On a list, a woman whose husband now wants to dress like a woman asked for help from others like her.
I gave her the term SOFFA, the better to Google with, and directed her to Helen Boyd, who, being SOFFA*, probably has a handle on those resources.
Fine. But one CD wanted to explain why she should lighten up, why dressing up was OK, why she should be sexy and play along.
That post creeped me out. I felt the need to respond:
It’s nostalgic to hear old arguments I used to hear from people like The Prince again. “The Crossdresser And His Wife,” indeed.
I’m certainly not going to disagree that for many couples, gender play in the bedroom (or even outside of it) can be a fun part of their relationship. I know it can.
But gosh, when I heard those people talk about a wife’s obligation to participate, it made me cringe. And when those comments were bolstered by rationalizations about crossdressing, well, that just seemed twice odd.
Yes, men used to wear wigs and stockings, but that was what men wore when women wore panniers and corsets. CDs don’t want more freedom in dressing like men — silk, fur, leather, whatever — they want to dress as women, from clothes to padding and even names. Big difference. Yes, today women wear pants, but they wear women’s pants, and don’t put false penises into their shorts.
In my experience, a wife acting more feminine and sexier has never, ever stopped any husband’s desire to express their own transgender impulses. It may staunch the desire a bit, but in the end, the trans nature is the trans nature. To suggest that wives being sexier is at all a solution to the husband’s issues just seems offensive to me.
Suggesting that a husband engage, explore and express his feelings, usually with the help of a therapist, is a much better suggestion, at least from what I have seen. Men are used to having women process emotions, but they need to understand and own their own feelings to be able to make choices that balance the range of their desires, from the desire to be wild and sexy to the desire to be tame and embraced with a healthy family.
The only way a couple can create new possibilities and engage change in their relationship is if both partners come with maturity and openness. Some find new ways to be together, with just some gender play, or some changes, and others find that they have lost what brought them together in the first place.
It’s your trans nature, it’s your desires, it’s your feelings; you have responsibility to own them and help bring them into balance in your life and in your relationship. Sure, it takes two to tango, but the one who needs change brings a special responsibility to make the change gracious, fair and open.
I know this isn’t what The Prince said. In his world, the wife had more responsibilities to be the dutiful servant to the altar of manhood.
It’s just that’s not a world I have seen many happy people in, and not a world I can imagine living in. It doesn’t seem particularly fair and enjoyable for women.
A partner expressing trans doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship, that’s true.
But the only way I have seen it work is when the trans-partner takes responsibility for their own life, their own desires and their own choices.
* SOFFA == Significant Others, Family, Friends & Allies