Need help for a friend about confronting her m2f girlfriend about being trans

Need help for a friend about confronting her m2f girlfriend about being trans

Peggi Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's list. So if you have an answer please let me know!

Now, My friend Abby has been dating Jen for 8 months now, and things have been going great. They talk about everything from ex's to favorite places to visit, share everything and they just decided to move in together. Now, here is where things get a little hairy.

Jen is, as I mentioned in the topic, a m2f transgender woman. She has gone through her hormones, had the surgery and breast implants, and if one were to look at her or talk to her, they'd never guess. In fact, until recently, Abby had no clue either. The bad part is - Jen never told Abby. Abby found out, because she realized they had a mutual friend, and after looking through some facebook photos saw some of Jen, while she was going through hormones and such.

Now, Abby has no problem with dating a trans woman. The problem is, she feels that Jen should've talked to her. I've told her that I think that it really shouldn't matter, because Jen IS a woman, she just had the wrong parts to go with it, and maybe that part of her life is something she wants to forget.

Abby, on the other hand, says that she feels Jen should've talked to her about this, because Abby has told her EVERYTHING from her past including past sexual abuse from a family member, and a ton of other really deep stuff!

In a way, I agree with Abby. Jen probably should've at least brought it up. Jen also knows Abby has a few trans friends and Abby is also bisexual, so none of it should make her feel like Abby would judge her. We don't know why Jen hasn't said anything, but they're about to start a life together.

Do you think that Abby should confront Jen about her past, at least so that she feels like Jen isn't keep other things from her? Or, should she try to let it go?

If she should confront her, how should she go about it?

My reason for wanting help on this, is because this is a VERY touchy subject, I'd really like some ideas from an outside mind. I don't want anyone getting hurt, but I do think my friend deserves to at least hear it. I've been in the same situation, and was hurt not by knowing I was dating someone who was trans but by the fact that he waited to tell me for so long and I remember how that hurt.
04/22/2012
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maccaj maccaj
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's ...
I think "confront" is the wrong word here; the implication is that there's something wrong with Jen's past, or that she's lying, neither of which are true.

I think it would be appropriate for Abby to say something like, "You know, I understand why you didn't disclose your trans status to me, because that's your choice to make, but it hurt to find out from someone other than you. I'm sure it hurts you to be outed in that way, too. I'm working on understanding why some people choose to be stealth, and I'm trying to remember that your choice to not disclose to me was your right, and not a reflection on how much you trust me. Right now, it feels like you didn't trust me enough to tell me about this part of your life, but I'm working on understanding things from your point of view."

The catch is, in order for Abby to say any of this, she should believe it, first. She's the one who needs to do some work here, imo - and then she can talk to Jen about it.
04/22/2012
GONE! GONE!
Well, I know some people find it really important to live stealth 100% of the time and if they've been through surgery and all that I don't see why they should have to disclose it, since it's no longer an issue. The only way I can see it being an issue in a situation like that is if that person is in a relationship where literally everything is being disclosed including all past medical procedures, because that is literally all it is anymore apparently. If I were Abby, I would bring up some of my own past medical issues and nonchalantly ask Jen if she's ever had any. If she brings it up then, there is no problem. If she doesn't, well, I would bring up the topic of trans* people another day and see how she responds. It's a sensitive issue and I hope everyone gets through it okay.
04/22/2012
K101 K101
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's ...
Well, if they are about to start a life together, I'd say that's one hell of a big secret to not have told. I understand the secret's out, but I would feel somewhat betrayed. I'd wonder: are there underlying problems that I don't know about and that's why she didn't come forward? Is she ashamed? It'd be a hard thing to just brush off since it was such a big transition in life. We tend not to be able to forget such big happenings in our lives. If I am starting a life with someone, it's important to have everything in the open. Past or not. I mean some past things aren't relevant such as what animal you had as a kid or how many cavities you had. However, a lot of things should be laid out on the table before getting deep in. That's because big things in your life, pas or not, will come out in some way, even if it's just a small thing. It's much better to have it out there.

If It were me, I'd feel like I needed to know because that is a big secret to keep! SOME people would be upset about that and no longer want to be with the person, not that that's the case here, but it's important to be honest. I'd feel like I was duping someone if I got with them and stayed with them and didn't tell them I was once a certain gender. People need to know that, especially if it's something they won't tolerate in a relationship. In those cases, it'd be one heck of a nasty breakup, another reason it should be told up front.

I'd have to discuss it. Sure it's HER body, her past, but when you join a partner for the long haul, you're not just one person anymore! Very big things need to be thought about.

I mean if my partner of nearly 6 years didn't tell me he used to be female until a few months or even weeks into it, I'd feel SOOO overwhelmed and have ALOT of questions.
04/22/2012
Peggi Peggi
@maccaj: Well, in a way Abby feels as though she was lied to. They've discussed even the most personal of issues, and promised to always be open, talk about their pasts, etc. The part that hurts her is that she gave Jen information about HERSELF that was incredibly painful to talk about, which she tells only the people closest to her. These are things that took her 12 years to even tell me! She feels like if she disclosed these things to Jen, Jen should've disclosed things like that to her. She feels very betrayed. But I do like the way that you worded that, and I agree that might be the best way to go about it.

@Gold Lion: Ah yes, I do know quite a few people who would just rather leave that part of their life behind them. Which I can understand. It's like...if I were born with a giant tumor growing out of my face and had it removed and now I look fine, I don't want to go around advertising that I used to have a problem with my body not looking the way it should and having to fix it. And that's how I feel about people who have to go through all of that, is that there is just something they were born with that's wrong and they just need to fix it so they can look normal, the way they SHOULD look. That would be an excellent way to bring it up, but they've already discussed things like that
04/22/2012
Peggi Peggi
Quote:
Originally posted by K101
Well, if they are about to start a life together, I'd say that's one hell of a big secret to not have told. I understand the secret's out, but I would feel somewhat betrayed. I'd wonder: are there underlying problems that I don't ...
I fully agree, and I'd feel very betrayed as well if my partner didn't tell me something that important about his or herself. I wouldn't mind the truth behind it, but I'd be hurt by the fact that I wasn't told sooner. Especially to have to find out through someone else? That really just isn't the way it should've gone down.

Personally, I felt Jen should've said something to her when they first became serious, because like you said, these things come out one way or another. Just like in this instance. And now it could cost Jen the relationship if Abby feels she can't trust her after this.

I feel that every bit of your past is something you should disclose to your partner. I'd never keep anything from mine, regardless of whether I was hurt or embarrassed. No, I probably wouldn't say something right away in a case like this, but I'd certainly not wait until we were already in a long-term relationship and discussing living together.
04/22/2012
maccaj maccaj
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
@maccaj: Well, in a way Abby feels as though she was lied to. They've discussed even the most personal of issues, and promised to always be open, talk about their pasts, etc. The part that hurts her is that she gave Jen information about ...
I can understand why Abby feels lied to and betrayed, and she has a right to feel that way; it's a huge secret to have kept. The thing is though, if she has any hope of the discussion being productive and calm, she's going to have to talk to Jen about it from *Jen's* perspective - Jen is the one who got outed, even though it was accidental, so Jen is also going to be feeling betrayed (not by Abby, just in general) and vulnerable... even more vulnerable than Abby feels right now. Whereas Abby is thinking "why didn't she trust me?" and "what else don't I know about?" Jen is going to be thinking "Oh my God, who else knows? Am I safe? Can I get that mutual friend to take those pics down? Are they locked at all? Has anyone from work seen them? Am I about to get jumped by a 'friend' of a 'friend' of a 'friend' of a 'friend' who's already stumbled on those pics?"... Jen has some monumental concerns about those pics that are going to, *in those first moments*, trump the fact that Abby feels lied to, because Jen's first concern has to be her safety (and her gainful employment, etc), and the fact that Abby found them means they could be found by others.

Abby needs to really understand that before she says anything to Jen, and needs to know that part of the conversation is going to involve giving Jen a whole lot of emotional support *even if she, Abby, is still upset at Jen*.

Jen's the one who has the most to lose here. That's not to minimize Abby's hurt, it's just that talking to Jen about it is going to bring up some concerns for Jen that reach far beyond the relationship itself.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for both of them.
04/22/2012
Peggi Peggi
Quote:
Originally posted by maccaj
I can understand why Abby feels lied to and betrayed, and she has a right to feel that way; it's a huge secret to have kept. The thing is though, if she has any hope of the discussion being productive and calm, she's going to have to talk to ...
That's a very good thing to point out. I will have to mention this to her (or, better yet, just let her read these posts) because that's a very good point and if she isn't prepared for Jen's reaction, it might end up escalating into a really big fight.
04/22/2012
Ivnas Ivnas
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's ...
So I stumbled across this completely by accident (I didn't even mean to be on this site at all originally, LOL), but as someone who has a LOT of experience with trans issues, I thought I'd share my opinion.

Maccaj is 100% correct in their previous post above. As much as Abby feels betrayed by being lied to (more on that in a bit), it's Jen's well-being that is now being compromised. Even if Jen might not literally be tracked down and physically hurt, transphobia is rampant in most countries with very few laws to protect trans people from discrimination. And even if THAT doesn't happen, she's now been outed forcefully. Someone I know very well has been there. It's awkward and slightly humiliating at best, and is really fucking painful at worst.

Abby needs to pause and reflect on why exactly she feels lied to. You mentioned that she feels it's uneven for Abby to have told Jen the painful parts of her past and not vice versa, and yes, that IS true. But the thing is, fair or not, the trans person is almost always more of a victim in cases like this. Whatever has happened in Abby's past, she's probably always at LEAST had the security that people were interpreting her gender properly, something Jen has lacked for much of her life. And, as much as I wish gender meant nothing to most people, the fact is that it does -- and being constantly perceived as the wrong gender in a gender essentialist culture is incredibly wearing on someone. It's a pretty unique form of emotional pain that's difficult to explain to cissexual people, and even if Abby IS sure she's fine with dating a trans person (which is awesome, by the way), she may not fully understand. Anyway, can you really blame Jen for wanting to put that sort of trauma in the past? I guarantee you that if I were a trans person who had transitioned and was going stealth, I would be hesitant to tell even a close romantic partner if they didn't already know. You (Peggi) were right up above when you compared being trans to being born with a giant tumor on your face. The sad part of that is that no one expects someone who had a tumor to "own up" and "tell the truth"*, but with trans people other people think it's suddenly everyone's right to know. (*In quotes because it is incredibly unfair in the case of trans people specifically, who generally transition so they CAN openly tell the truth.) I'm not saying that Abby is actually being unfair here -- as Jen's serious long-term romantic partner, she DOES deserve to know most of Jen's secrets. I'm just trying to explain why feeling like you have to disclose your trans status is so frightening (and feels so unfair) to many trans people. And even if they've talked about trans issues in the past and Jen knows Abby is fine with trans people (you didn't mention either way, BUT...), sometimes people who thought they were okay with trans people IN THEORY actually aren't okay with finding out their partner is trans. I don't know why since that kind of thing makes no difference to me, but it happens. A lot.

On that note, Abby also needs to make sure she actually doesn't have any problems with Jen being trans. Right NOW, before it's too late. Does Abby actually feel that Jen is "really a man" now? I'm sure that rationally she knows Jen is female, but people are indoctrinated with a lot of subtle culture assumptions, and HAD A PENIS AND TESTICLES AT SOME POINT = MALE is one of the big ones. Trust me, even if you KNOW a particular societal "truth" makes no sense, it can be hard to fully get over it. It's not really Abby's fault, it's just something she should be aware of before talking to Jen.

Oh god, that's long. XD Anyway, Abby needs to do a bit of self-reflecting and be ready to understand Jen's part in this BEFORE instigating this conversation. I'm not saying Abby should never bring it up, because now that she knows it's going to bother her until she does talk to Jen about it (at least, if Abby is anything like me, haha; I'm terrible at trying to ignore things). But she does need to be prepared to be very patient and understanding, more empathetic than you'd usually have to be in this sort of situation since transness is generally so poorly understood.
04/22/2012
eroticmutt eroticmutt
She has no business calling her girlfriend out on it. That's like saying that someone "had better" have told their partner if they were born with ambiguous genitalia!

Plenty of people are born "intersex" and have the condition corrected and then erase that unfortunate health condition from their daily life and don't bring it up to everyone they know. Just like people who were ill as children. You can't say someone "owed it to you" to inform you they had leukemia as a child, or another disorder.

People need to mind their own business. It's stuff like this that makes people feel like they can't tell their partner even if they want to.
04/22/2012
maccaj maccaj
Quote:
Originally posted by eroticmutt
She has no business calling her girlfriend out on it. That's like saying that someone "had better" have told their partner if they were born with ambiguous genitalia!

Plenty of people are born "intersex" and have the ...
I agree that no one "owes" it to anyone to disclose, but the bigger issue in this particular situation is that the cat's out of the bag! Whether it's "fair" for Abby to feel betrayed or not (and I agree, it's not, for the reasons you stated), she feels that way; emotions are rarely logical.

I have both visible and invisible disabilities, and I'm "stealth" about some of them (I'm not at a point where I can be stealth in transition yet, but when I get there, I may well choose to be). And believe it or not, being "stealth" about one's other medical history and disabilities - even the ones that affect one's partner not one iota - *does* cause an inordinate number of people to feel betrayed/misled/" owed" the "truth" about their partner's non-relevant medical history. It's frustrating, and they're wrong, but being incorrect about how much information they're entitled to doesn't make them *feel* any differently about it.

When this kind of thing happens, while the discussion about a partner's right to not disclose is valuable in helping the other partner understand what's going on, just telling them to "mind their own business" doesn't *fix* the situation, nor does it change the hurt partner's attitude.

I'm not one of those folks who thinks the burden is on the minority partner to be in 24/7 "let me educate you" mode; that's exhausting. But the situation described in the original post is one where the hurt partner has only a few practical choices:

a) walk away, still feeling hurt/betrayed, and none the wiser for it
b) confront the non-disclosing partner with "how could you do this to me?" privileged language, thus angering the non-disclosing partner and causing much deeper hurt to both parties,
c) say nothing and simmer, eventually leading to b, probably at the worst possible moment, or
d) Try to understand the reasons for non-disclosure from the non-disclosing partner's perspective, and, if for no other reason than it's the decent thing to do, calmly alert the non-disclosing partner to the fact that she's been outed, and allow her to work through the consequences and emotional turmoil of that without having to worry about the hurt partner's feelings in the immediate term; with the understanding that they'll get to that when the non-disclosing partner has dealt with the most pressing implications of the outing.

Really, this kind of accidental outing situation is unfair to *everyone* emotionally, but it's the risk you take by being stealth, and for most people who choose to be stealth, the risk is worth the reward of privacy and not feeling like a 24/7 self-narrating zoo exhibit.
04/22/2012
Ivnas Ivnas
Quote:
Originally posted by eroticmutt
She has no business calling her girlfriend out on it. That's like saying that someone "had better" have told their partner if they were born with ambiguous genitalia!

Plenty of people are born "intersex" and have the ...
I agree that being accidentally outed is unfair and that Jen isn't under any obligation to tell Abby her "real gender" (since her real gender is female, which is how she's already presenting, so it's not like she's lied). However, the real issue here seems to be that Abby has shared painful parts of her past with Jen, and while I COMPLETELY understand and respect Jen's decision to not disclose being trans with Abby (yet?)...it IS still a bit unfair to Abby.

I mean, shit. Sexual abuse? It's not like Abby told Jen she stubbed her toe once and wants Jen to reciprocate with something that's much more painful, Abby was (as far as I can infer) RAPED. I know it's not exactly the same as being trans (and a victim of dysphoria and discrimination), but being a rape victim is pretty fucking horrible too.

For fairness's sake, I can see how Abby feels like their relationship is a bit uneven at the moment. From the viewpoint of someone who is very well aware of why people choose to go stealth, I can also see why Jen hasn't said anything before now. So...while I don't know a RIGHT answer for all this -- if there even is one -- I don't think it's as easy as just saying "ABBY NEVER DESERVES TO KNOW EVER EVER EVER" and dismissing her feelings entirely.
04/23/2012
Chirple Chirple
I think the biggest hurt here might be that one partner, at least, now feels the relationship has uneven exposure and therefore uneven commitment.

Why do we share painful parts of ourselves with others ? What do we get out of it ? I don't think we should expect them to expose themselves back. I don't think it's unfair that Jen didn't share something with Abby did. That's not what sharing yourself is about - it's not an eye for an eye.

People heal in different ways. It doesn't make someone lesser that they don't feel comfortable or ready to talk about something painful in their past - no matter how much they love or trust someone else. I'm glad that there is a push in society for it to be more accepted for people to talk about past pain, but it's not the right choice for everyone when it comes to what is best for their own emotional healing.

Telling someone more or less doesn't mean you love them more or less.

I think we get the idea that love is where two people are so close that they become as one, sharing everything - and that sharing more means loving more and being more committed. I don't think that is necessarily true. There are situations and reasons and feelings that don't align with what some might think of as fairy-tale love while still being a successful and beneficial and good and rewarding partnership.

However, it's also important for both parties to agree on the situation they're in and their comforts. If a kind of sharing is necessary for one and the other is not comfortable, then it might be best to re-evaluate things.
04/24/2012
MasonM MasonM
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's ...
I actually saw an article today about reasons why transgenders shouldn't disclose their status and reasons why they wouldn't want to do so.

I'm not going to link it here, but I will say that it's a very personal decision to reveal something like that. Should she have told someone that she was becoming sexually involved with? Yes. Does that mean that she needs to be 'confronted' about it? No.

Confrontation is a very aggressive thing.

I second the idea that there should be a discussion, but feel that it needs to be done in a gentle and understanding manner.
04/24/2012
Chirple Chirple
Quote:
Originally posted by MasonM
I actually saw an article today about reasons why transgenders shouldn't disclose their status and reasons why they wouldn't want to do so.

I'm not going to link it here, but I will say that it's a very personal decision to ...
I don't see why transsexuals should have to disclose their history to sexual partners.

It's not an STD, their partner can't catch it - and they won't magically "turn gay/straight" because their partner "used to be a man". I'm sure you didn't mean that, but that's the reason society at large pressures transsexuals to disclose - because they're "tricking" people.

I don't think it's necessary. If you're in a physical state where you may be putting yourself at risk of violence for not disclosing - sure, it may be best to do so (or find another partner). If you need something a cisgender person wouldn't to obtain sexual gratification, it might help you to disclose, but that's not essential and effects only the trans partner.

Not the case here, but transsexuals, just like other people - are sometimes "sexually involved" with people who they wouldn't disclose large painful segments of their past with. Not all sex is serious-partner sex.
04/25/2012
smc3115 smc3115
Quote:
Originally posted by Peggi
Ok, so I have a friend, lets call her Abby. She is dating a girl who we will just call Jen. Now, my friend Abby asked me a question and I am unable to answer, and don't want to post this on Facebook, because they are BOTH on my friend's ...
I can see both sides of the coin on this issue. I am an individual with a trans history. Most people in my life do not know I am actually ftm. It isn't something I enjoy talking about, but it comes up when I am single because I haven't had bottom surgery. When I end up getting bottom surgery I wouldn't see the point of telling a partner about that part of my history. My thought process would be: thank golly I never have to think about my assigned birth again. Side note: I have been stealth for around 10 years. It isn't that I am ashamed of the issue. I don't identify with the gender I was assigned at birth and never did. I felt like I was just fixing a medical issue when I started treatment.

On the other side I can see how a partner in a long term relationship would be confused by the lack of disclosure. At only 8 months I am sure there is many things one doesn't know about who they are dating. I mean you are still getting to know a person at that point. There are still plenty of skeletons in the closet. It seems like an important mile stone in one's life to go through the transitioning process, but I wouldn't give anyone flak for not disclosing that to me. I imagine if I haven't dealt with the issue personally, I may be perplexed on how someone I thought I knew so well wouldn't disclose that information, but since I have been through that process I don't see it as an issue.

If you confront the person, you are just pointing out that there is something different about them; different can easily turn to wrong in someone's head. Why should she need to disclose this information? If she had a vitamin B deficiency and needed to take a pill every once and awhile would that be an issue to the relationship? 8 months is only a blink of an eye in a lifetime. I would treat the situation like a deer in the woods, let them come to you, don't scare her away by bringing up a subject she clearly isn't comfortable talking about. There is a reason she hasn't talked about it in 8 months time. Either be comfortable knowing that information about her past or not be. I may mention some genderqueer events in the community and see if that sparks anything or find a mtf coffee table book and see if I can casually promote conversation, but in the grand scheme of things her history is her history. She will either disclose or not and if you confront her you may scare her off.
04/28/2012
butts butts
I think it was a bad choice for Jen to not at least mention it to Abby if they intended on a serious relationship, but, it isn't a big deal and Abby seems fine with it, she just has to trust that Jen isn't keeping anything else from her. It sounds like Jen was just more comfortable being stealth, which I understand is very important for some trans people. If Jen is an overall honest person, I think Abby should look past it, being stealth isn't that uncommon, and I'm sure Jen intended to tell her eventually, she might've been waiting until the relationship got physical, which is very understandable.
04/29/2012
Peggi Peggi
I think it's just a sad situation to be in! But I am hoping that they will work this out, and for whatever reason Jen didn't trust Abby when she was trusting others (she said she was worried that Abby wouldn't love her if she knew she was born with a physical defect like this), she was talking about this with RECENT friends, which is something neither of us (Abby or I) knew until they had a discussion about it.

Thank you all so much for your advice and comments - prior to Abby talking to Jen I had her read everything and take some time to think about how she would do this, but right now they're postponing moving in with one another because of trust issues.
04/29/2012
Total posts: 18
Unique posters: 10