Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taking Off the Costume for Halloween

Jay had a brilliant idea for a Halloween costume: makeup and girl clothes on half of her body, stubbly face and guy clothes on the other half, and a "this is the costume" sign pointing to the male side. She didn't have time to pull it together, but I love the sentiment.

Halloween can be complicated for a trans woman in the middle of transition. Jay worried that if she dressed up in a full woman's costume, people might mistake her femininity for part of the costume. Ick. She decided to keep it simple with a pair of bunny ears, pretty makeup, and a cleavage baring lace top (bold considering she usually goes out in androgynous attire). I thought her minimal costume choice perfectly communicated, "hey, I'm just a normal woman, celebrating with a little bunny flair for Halloween." I'm so proud of my cute wifey!

Jay said this was her first Halloween not dressed up as a man. It reminded me of a quote from the TV series Transparent. A daughter asks her newly out trans father if he (she) is going to dress up like a woman all the time now. The father's reply:

"My whole life I have been dressing up as a man. This is me."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Getting Naked With 30 People Improved My Body Image

I've never been naked around other women. I'm the girl who changes in the corner of the locker room, stealthily replacing my regular bra with a sports bra without removing my shirt. Eyes averted, I tear off my jeans and jam my legs into yoga pants, as though I'm racing against a stopwatch to set a record for the shortest time to dress. God forbid anyone sees my cellulite. Or my less than flat abs. Or that gravity has made my boobs look like they belong to a thirty year old rather than a teenager.

Since my boyfriend and I started frequenting sex parties last spring, I've gotten comfortable with nudity in a very specific context: we go to the venue, we take off our clothes, we have sex, we get dressed again. People look around, but everyone is pretty preoccupied with their own play. When I do notice someone checking us out, I tend to think, "that's hot, they're watching me orgasm" over "I hope my ass doesn't look too big from that angle." In other words, I'm too turned on to care.

When Bradley and I went to a play party at our friends' house last month, it was the first time I'd ever socialized naked. Everyone took off their clothes to jump in the pool, and nobody put them on again for the rest of the night. So we were telling jokes in the hot tub naked, introducing ourselves and shaking hands naked, snacking on chips around the kitchen table naked, dancing in the hallway naked... People of all ages, shapes and sizes, just hanging out with our stuff hanging out.

And it felt so... natural. And healthy.

On the drive back home, I shared my epiphany with Bradley:

"I only just now realized that women's bodies tend to be proportional. Skinny women usually have small boobs. And women with huge boobs usually have extra fat in other places on their body."

"Um, yeah."

"Well I hadn't thought about that because all the naked women I've seen in my entire life are from watching porn. And you know I watch way too much porn."

This whole time I've been struggling with body image issues, it hadn't occurred to me that I'd seen very few real naked female bodies, so my expectations were warped. A single nude party helped ground me in reality and made me feel more comfortable in my skin.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Help Make It Happen for Trans Documentary "who we become"


Who we become follows a group of trans people who form a makeshift family, bonded by the search for community. I must see this film and just contributed to the Indiegogo campaign to help make it happen. Join me?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

7 Things About Me That Have Nothing To Do With My Transgender Wife or Polyamory


I am proud to announce that I am the recipient of a blogger chain mail prestigious blogger award. Thank you to Ashley of Fjarilar och Zebror (a blog I can't pronounce but love to read) for nominating me!

I'm supposed to write 7 things about myself, so I thought I'd share some random facts that deviate from my usual topics of transgender marriage and polyamory:

1. My body is unmodified.
No piercings. No tattoos. No split tongue to look like a lizard. I think earrings are beautiful on other women, but can't rationalize punching holes in my body parts just to hang decorative adornments.

2. I am a popcorn addict.
I don't mean "addict" in a lightheartedly exaggerated Ohmygod I love popcorn so much I'm like totally addicted kind of way. I mean "addict" in a once I start eating I physically can't stop, double-hand shoveling popcorn into my face even after my stomach hurts, polishing off solo enough popcorn for 20 people, eating stale popcorn out of the sofa cushions kind of way.

3. I keep tap shoes in the trunk of my car.
They've been there for over 10 years.
I don't tap dance.
But you never know when you're going to need a pair.

4. I am prone to hypochondriac dramatics.

These are actual recent conversations:

Bradley: It looks like a pimple. It doesn't look anything like herpes.
Me: It looks like a pimple but what if it's herpes?
Bradley: It's not herpes.
Me: Did you see my eyes? They are all red and gooey. I probably gave myself herpes in the eye. I am going to go blind!
Bradley: You're not going to go blind.
Me: I'm going to die of eye herpes!
Bradley: That's not a thing.

Me: When I go to the doctor next week I'm going to ask about ovarian cancer. I have all the symptoms-- fatigue, bloating, frequent urination.
Jay: You're bloated because you've been eating like shit lately.
Me: Oh yeah. That's true.
Jay: And if those are the symptoms, then you've had cancer since I met you. Thirteen years ago.
Me: I probably have had cancer since I met you and now it's progressed really far and I'm going to die!
Jay: You need to STOP diagnosing yourself online.
Ten minutes later...
Me: Ugh, my shoulders are so tense, I have a headache.
Jay: It's probably the cancer.

5. I've never tried drugs.
Not even marijuana. No judgment, I just can't fathom consuming anything that might make me more paranoid than I already am (see above), or give me the munchies worse than I already have (see #2).

6. My cat verbally abuses me.
"Feed me, bitch!"
"Meatball! That is so rude. I am feeding you right now."
"Just kidding mom, I love you."
"Yay! Come sit on my lap. Oh please oh please, I need a lap kitty today."
"No way. You wreak of desperation. It's pathetic!"

Like all names in this blog, Meatball is a pseudonym. To protect his privacy.

7. I write blog posts while driving.
No, not with a computer on my lap in the car. I write blog posts in my head while I'm driving and then type them out when I get home. If I haven't blogged in a while, there's a good chance I haven't had to commute as far for work.

Now is the part where I nominate 5 other bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award. I'm pretty sure this chain mail is going to die here (no pressure y'all if you actually see this) but here goes:

A Place In My Heart

Him and Me and Her and Them

Poly Nirvana

Rachel Leibrock

Thoughts that need to be...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Personal Pronoun Problems

My mom mailed my wife this birthday card, with the envelope addressed to "Ms. Jay." She couldn't have found a more perfect greeting, down to the word "transparent."

Jay's mom in contrast called with birthday wishes:
"It's the birthday man!"
"Mom!? Did you really just say that?"
"Ugh humph. Whatever."

Utter dismissal. On Jay's birthday.

"Why don't you start calling your mom a man and using male pronouns? Show her how it feels to have her gender identity denied," I suggested.

Jay came out to her parents about a year and a half ago. She gave them simple, brief articles to read and videos to watch. They looked at nothing.

Each time Jay talked to her parents they asked about genital surgery. Each time she reminded them that surgery was still years away; they should be asking about pronoun preference instead.

Six months ago Jay told her parents she was ready to switch to female pronouns. Her mom said she'd have to "process it."

They obviously still have not made the switch.

Why is it so hard for people to use requested pronouns? This is a real question for my blog readers out there. Please explain to me the psychology behind being an a-hole about pronouns, because I can't understand. It's such a simple request, often the only thing a trans person asks for in terms of support. It requires almost no effort to change "he" to "she." Granted, it's easy to slip up, especially when the subject isn't presenting traditional gender cues (my wife still passes as a man most of the time). But I'm not talking about the well-intentioned mistakes, the slips of the tongue. My wife doesn't care if people mess up 50 times, as long as they're trying. It's the people who blatantly resist acknowledging her gender identity who are infuriating.

I have been running into my own challenges with pronouns lately. I refuse to call Jay my "husband" or use male pronouns anymore. It feels inauthentic. Wrong. A lie. However, there are still people she's not yet out to-- coworkers or acquaintances at parties for instance. Sometimes she wants to socialize as her androgynous self and not assert her gender identity, not correct people when they label her erroneously, not have to explain her life story. I respect that and want to support her. But I can't bring myself to say "he." So I find myself dancing around pronouns entirely. I repeat her name a lot, or awkwardly answer questions without a noun at all:
"What does your husband do?"
"Oh, uh works in tech."

I look forward to the day when Jay is out completely and I can say to the world, "Yeah, that's my wife. She is awesome. I've nicknamed her Princess Kitty Boom Boom Gumdrop Lollipop*."

*True story. She even has a theme song.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Transition Progress- Hormones & Hairstyling


My wife has been on HRT for about 14 months. I want to share these before and after photos, because I'm super proud of her progress.
 
And I think her new haircut is adorable.
 
And goshdarnit I love this woman. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hell Yes, Feminism! BlogHer'14 Round-Up


I used to think I wasn't a feminist because I remove all my body hair and like men to take care of my car maintenance. Then Caitlin Moran's comedic and brilliant How to Be a Woman set me straight:

"Put your hand in your pants. a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist."

When I started following feminist bloggers, I realized these women write about issues that I care deeply about-- reproductive rights, global violence against women, rape culture, sexism in the media, and a wide variety of social justice topics beyond the scope of "women's issues." These self-proclaimed feminists use their voices to shed light on inequalities, to tell stories, to make the world better. Hell yes, I'm a feminist.

Before I attended BlogHer'14 during the last weekend of July, I was planning to post The Bloggess: Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism with the simple preface "love, love, love this." I decided to wait until after the conference, since one of the keynotes was The Bloggess herself, Jenny Lawson.

BlogHer'14 was a blogging conference, but it felt as much like a women's empowerment and support network. Welcoming. Inspiring. A celebration of diverse perspectives and personal growth. I'm not one for writing recaps, but I do want to share a round-up of my favorite takeaways:

Inspiration from Keynotes

"Self pity is for suckers." - Shannnon Des Roches Rosa, Squidalicious

Jenny Lawson's traveling red dress is a metaphor, a photography project, and a moving blog post to read.

Tig Notaro turned the lowest point in her life (a break-up, her mother's death, and her own cancer diagnosis) into a Grammy nominated live stand-up comedy routine.

Renegade Mothering's We Don't Start with Needles in our Arms is a powerful perspective on alcoholism. It sucked the breath out of me to hear it read live.

Always #LikeAGirl- A social media keynote speaker mentioned this viral campaign; I don't know how I'd missed it previously

Words of Wisdom from Arianna Huffington (who knew she was so funny?!):
  • "Sleep your way to the top." Literally, get more sleep every night.
  • Stop glamourizing being busy.
  • Giving is essential to being a complete human being.
  • Make personal connections with people you take for granted, like the barista at the coffee shop.
  • "Jimmy Choo only makes uncomfortable shoes made by men who hate women."

I admit this video made me cry. Too many (maybe all?) women resonate with this in some way: I'm enough

The closing keynote was a fantastic panel, "The Intersection of Race, Gender, Feminism":
  • We all have a responsibility to amplify voices. Don't speak for minorities. Listen and share what they have to say.
  • Recognize your privilege.
  • Being an ally or a feminist is a daily practice. What are you doing today?

Amazing Women I Met

Connecting with other bloggers was one of the best parts of the conference. When I told people what I write about, I was surprised how many responded with a story about their genderqueer friend, or their transgender lover, or their gender creative child. I didn't expect to find so much community at the event.

Below is a list of bloggers I admire as both talented writers and beautiful people. I've included links to a couple of my favorite posts, so you can check out why I adore them so much.

Baddest Mother Ever

Dreaming With Your Feet

Finding Ninee

Rachel Leibrock

Workshop Learnings

The break-outs I attended offered lots of useful advice, and there are 3 things I resolve to start doing to improve my blog:

1. Add images.
I understand that adding images would make my blog more visually appealing, but I struggle with the authenticity of adding stock photography to my posts, just for the sake of having a visual pop. So here's a compromise-- I'll commit to taking 10 minutes to search for something relevant for every post that I write. If I find something that resonates, you can enjoy my prettier blog. If I don't, you're stuck with my plain writing.

I hope it's kosher that I pulled the BlogHer conference logo from the website; see how much I still have to learn!

2. Get on Twitter.
Technically the advice was to get on every single social media channel on the planet, but I'm starting with Twitter. I've been feeling for a while that I could use another platform to share out the amazing things I find online but don't have the time or motivation to write about. Tweet me @TransfiniteLove.

3. Work on headlines.
Until I attended a headline-writing workshop, it hadn't occurred to me to expend the effort to write compelling blog post titles. I've gone back and updated a few of my older post titles, and will make this more of a priority going forward.

The last couple of weeks have been full of emotional adventure. My boyfriend suggested that I not blog about the acutely personal sordid details here, but rather give myself some time and distance before publishing. I will probably save these stories for my memoir, which at this rate is looking like a combination of humor, self-help and erotica. If I were to write my blog headlines for the last two weeks, they would be:

50 Shades of Awkward- My Hilariously Epic Fail at BDSM
 
7 Easy Steps to Overcome Jealousy & Stop Crying All Day**
 
How Merely Planning to F*ck a Woman Dramatically Improved My Sex Life
 
**Nope, just kidding. I don't have the expertise to write that yet. I'm a wreck.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What's in a name? (a lot for a trans girl)

I'm changing my spouse's pseudonym to Jay going forward. It's the name she originally requested for this blog, but I insisted on designating her distinct boy and girl pseudonyms (Jake and Jasmine) to mirror her real-life boy and girl names. When I launched this blog she was either presenting in guy-mode or girl-mode, and I thought I'd be writing about those differing experiences. At that time, she'd also picked out her female name, with plans to legally change it further along in transition.

But she's not changing her name after all. And she's no longer presenting as one or the other gender. She's simply herself. Both genders, or neither.

After seeing other trans people use transition to reinvent themselves, Jay decided that's not the path for her. She is not trying to kill off Jake to create some new woman Jasmine. Rather, she's the same person (a person she likes!) who is simply trying to make her outward appearance match her inward identity. So in a rebellious act of self-love, she is keeping her birth name. Fortunately, it's a name that although typically given to males, is occasionally given to females as well (think Jordan for instance).

So from here on out, I'll be writing about my wife Jay. She is fierce.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Polyamory Made Me Baby Crazy

Tick. Tick. Tick.

That would be the sound of my biological clock. It finally started. I was doubting whether my maternal drive would ever kick in.

When I first learned about puberty, I distinctly remember thinking, You're telling me that I'm going to spend a quarter of my adult life bleeding out of my vagina and suffering from menstrual cramps? But becoming a woman is "beautiful" and something to be proud of? Does anyone else think this deal SUCKS?

As I grew up, the idea of having children appealed to me, but the idea of actually birthing them repulsed and horrified me. Pregnancy... ewww. An alien life form stretching my body to irreparable sagginess. Childbirth... agonizing and dangerous. People recite that the odds of death from childbirth are extremely low, to which I retort that somebody has to be that statistical anomaly. Breastfeeding... my oh my, ouch! I don't even like my partners sucking on my nipples, so a baby feeding off me for hours sounds like hell.

When Jake and I decided to try starting a family (or more accurately stopped trying so hard NOT to start a family), I embraced potential motherhood with a mix of resignation and dread. We both worked long hours to scrape by with a modest lifestyle. With our salaries, there was no way we could afford professional childcare and no way one of us could be a stay-at-home parent. I envisioned living off of rice and beans, no more hobbies, barely seeing each other as we rotated through work and childcare, exhausted and run ragged, any semblance of our lives essentially over.

But having kids is what you do when you're a hetero-normative couple that's been married for 7 years. So Jake and I were going to just "make it work" because we knew we wanted a family eventually, didn't know what else we were doing with our lives, couldn't think of any real excuses for waiting, and figured we weren't getting any younger. Let's just do it and hope we're happy about it when it happens. Babies are cute at least. Not an inspiring way to bring new life into the world.

Given my attitudes toward pregnancy, it should be no surprise that when Jake came as transgender, I immediately went back on birth control with a great sense of relief. It was an easy decision not to freeze Jake's sperm. If I didn't have a real urge by thirty and she didn't care about having biological kids, then why spend thousands of dollars (which we didn't exactly have anyways) on sperm banking. We were both enamored with the idea of taking the next 5-10 years to explore our new life together and later adopt children who needed a good home.

But then Bradley joined our family and the notion of polyamorous baby-making crossed our minds. Jake said one day, "You know I wouldn't mind if you and Bradley want to have kids together," and it all clicked. With our little poly family, there would be three incomes instead of two. There would be three parents sharing childcare responsibilities. Suddenly having kids seemed desirable, a dream to aspire to rather than an obligation to settle for. People who don't understand polyamory think such an arrangement sounds impossible, that it could never work long-term. For us, it's utterly practical and feels so darn right.

Nowadays I stare at babies in the supermarket and long to pick them up and kiss their soft little faces. I find myself wandering into the baby section of clothing stores and running my fingers over tiny shoes. When I watch Bradley sleep, I imagine a toddler who looks like him snoozing soundly after a bedtime story. When we hang out on the couch, I think about how nice it would be to have a squishy baby to cuddle between the three of us. I fantasize about Jake strumming lullabies on the guitar, Bradley telling stories with his funny voices, and me dancing around with a bundle of love in my arms.

I have a terrifying fear that I will be unable to have kids or unable to have healthy kids, as karmic retribution for a life of complaining about my child-producing capabilities. Like the world will say, "you want this now, after so many years of female ingratitude, screw you!" I'm also still afraid that my life is too good to be true, that this happiness is unsustainable. Not due to human limitations, but simply the universe determining that no single person should have everlasting joy; something must be taken away. I don't take for granted that I can create whatever I want, so I preface all my baby talk with "If I'm so lucky one day..."

Although I've got baby fever bad (BABIES!! BABIES EVERYWHERE!), it's still far too early for planning. My boyfriend is just starting his divorce, my wife is in the middle of changing genders, and the three of us don't even live together yet. We've all got more transitioning to do this next year. Yet I've never had such a clear vision for my life or wanted anything with as much certainty as a I do a family with Jake and Bradley. So in the meantime I'll keep compulsively googling images of "babies with puppies" and "babies in animal hoodies," live each day with gratitude, and hold tight to this crazy little poly baby dream.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Comic Art on Gender, Etc.

Comic artist The Robinhead has some beautiful insights about life and human nature:

Alien Contact- A Comic on Gender Roles
Part of me wishes she didn't make the human such a stereotypical male dude, since even the best people are programmed to put everyone in gender boxes (not just d-bags). But she makes an awesome point.

A Cheesy Comic on Happiness and Expectations
I resonate with "epic partnerships between people who are each happy in their own personal way- joining their cosmic rainbows together and embarking on life journeys as adventure buddies." Yeah, that's my marriage in a nutshell.

I'm also a fan of Kimchi Cuddles, "a webcomic spreading awareness of polyamory + LGBTQ relationships in the most hilarious way possible." This is one of my favorites:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Wifey!

My wife and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last weekend. The dinner conversation went something like this:

"You know, this past year you've changed genders, we've transitioned from a monogamous to polyamorous lifestyle, we don't have sex with each other anymore, and we've both dated other people. But nothing's really changed."

"Nothing that matters."

"Nope! We're still each other's loving, cuddly, safe foundation in life."

"I know so many people who are still looking for what we have. The partnership, the forever-love. My friends who know how we are together, how we're a team, admire our relationship."

"Cheers! To 8 years of marital bliss and 13 years of having each other's backs."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pop Quiz

I've been neglecting my blog because:

a.) I've been working crazy long hours the past month. It's event season at work, and that includes planning my company's Pride sponsorship (because I work somewhere fabulous).

b.) I'm hopelessly crushed out on a sweet sadist I started seeing at the beginning of June. He's gently introducing me to kink, and I'm utterly addicted to him and can't focus on much else.

c.) I've been too busy enjoying my newly expansive sex life to sit down in front of the computer. I've been booking up all my evenings with loving and playful engagements.

d.) All of the above.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reason #3 Why I Love Polyamory

When I feel like snuggling on the couch, laughing about and agonizing over our latest crushes, I hang out with my wife Jake.

When I feel like a Broadway musical and an orgasm, I get together with my playmate Giovanni.

When I feel like being aggressively pinned against a wall and submitting to orders, I see my new love interest Edward.

When I feel like a casual meal and make-out session*, I meet up with my friend Mack.

When I feel like romantic, loving, almost spiritual sex (in private or at a party), I spend the evening with my boyfriend Bradley.

Polyamory gives me the freedom to explore a wide range of relationship dynamics, as well as different facets of my sexuality.

*Handjobs. Lying on the grass at a park. Climaxing while looking up at the stars. Not just for teenagers anymore.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Round-Up of Awesomeness- May Edition

My favorite finds from the Interwebs this month:

TRANSGENDER AWARENESS


Laverne Cox on Time Magazine Cover
This is groundbreaking for transgender awareness. After being snubbed for Time's 100 Most Influential People list despite being one of the top voted candidates in the poll, Cox is on the June 9th cover, The Transgender Tipping Point

Ryland's Transition Story
An accepting family helps their young daughter become their son in this poignant video. Watch when you feel like having a good cry.

Agender Portraits
Young people who identify as neither male nor female

Upworthy Trans Spoken Word
Her mom wanted her to wear a dress to prom. Here's what she wanted to say but couldn't.

WOMEN SPEAK OUT


#YesAllWomen
A national conversation about misogyny erupted online after Elliot Rodger's killing spree in Santa Barbara. Within a few days over a million people posted tweets with the #YesAllWomen hashtag: Not all men harass women, but all women have been harassed by men.
Not all men are rapists, but all women are afraid of getting raped.
"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." (Margaret Atwood)
Men showed their unity with #AllMenCan
#YesAllWhiteWomen drew attention to the intersection of race and gender. When feminists site statistics about domestic violence and the wage gap, we should acknowledge that these are WAY worse for women of color.

Let's Talk About S-E-X to Kids
What if we admitted to children that sex is primarily about pleasure?

The Lizzie Project
At seventeen, Lizzie Velasquez found a YouTube video of herself entitled "The Ugliest Woman in the World," with four million views and comments urging her to kill herself. She has since become a motivational speaker and author. Her Kickstarter campaign The Lizzie Project successfully funded this month.

Re-Writing Stupid Sexist Headlines
The Vegenda hosts a contest to re-write sexist headlines

POLYAMORY


Were Christians Right About Gay Marriage All Along?
The Daily Beast on the Potential Rise of Non-Monogamy

Progressive Christian Debates Polyamory
John Shore started an inclusive dialogue about polyamory on his blog post Dancing cheek to cheek to cheek, and a number of polyamorists left comments defending the lifestyle. My dream is that one day we can stop debating monogamy versus polyamory all together, and everyone can just accept any loving, consenting relationship arrangements that make people happy.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Boy Fail

This story made my day:

The Woman Within: Are You Calling Me a Lady?

For trans people, there is nothing more validating than having a stranger address you by your real gender when you're not even presenting as such. There have been a couple times when my wife has gone out in guy-mode-- no make-up, masculine clothes (did I mention she's 6 feet tall?), and still been called "ma'am." This affirms the progress she's made with her transition. She no longer needs to dress hyper-feminine and try so hard to pass. She is simply acknowledged as a woman because she is one.

On second thought, after reading the above blog, there is something even more validating: when people who deny your true gender seem downright mentally unstable.

I heard a trans guy talk about how his mom insists on calling him by his female birth name. Given that he completely passes as a dude and everyone else uses his male name, his mom sounds ridiculous and crazy.

When Jake's mom said, "You'll always be my little guy," my sassy wife retorted, "Good luck with that when I show up with boobs and long hair."

Whenever someone in our trans circle of friends has a boy fail (everyone is about a year into transition), the whole group reads about in a text message or talks about it over dinner. The story usually has a tone of mortification due to an awkward social interaction, or just the shock of being publicly identified when trying to hide. Although we empathize with the discomfort, the reaction is always the same:

Congratulations!

Congratulations that your hormone therapy and agonizing hair removal treatments have paid off.

Congratulations that after tremendous anxiety about whether you will ever pass as a woman, you can longer pass as a man.

Congratulations that after a lifetime of repressing your gender identity, now people see the real you (whether you want them to or not).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thank You, Laverne Cox*

My wife says it's only her responsibility to educate one person a day.

By telling her story and explaining what it means to be transgender, my wife humanizes the trans experience and helps ignorant people become more understanding. Educating people is a self-serving necessity to gain the most basic respect and courtesy that cisgender people take for granted. It's also a noble endeavor to make the world a teeny tiny bit more trans-accepting, one person at a time.

And it gets exhausting.

I am grateful to trans celebrities like Laverne Cox who use their spotlight to spread positive awareness to millions more people than we can reach in our daily lives. I had the great pleasure of hearing Cox speak live at a university this month. Her presentation was part advocacy speech, part spoken-word memoir, and all fabulously dramatic and empowering. She said (I hope I'm quoting her accurately) that she strives to "amplify the voices of those who don't have a platform."

And for that-- thank you.

*My wifey, the ever-irreverent jokester, wanted me to title this blog post "Trans Girls Have the Best Cox."

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I love my mom!

Thank you for having the courage to share your blog with me.  I am happy for you that you are getting your sexual desires met, and doing it in a safe way.  You just didn't know what you were missing!  Great sex is mind blowing and a fantastic part of life!
Love,
Mom


That's the email my mother sent after I told her about my sex party adventures and forwarded a link to my blog. No matter how determined I am to NOT tell her something, whenever we get together, the intimate details of my life spill uncontrollably out of my mouth. I can't keep anything from that woman!

My mom is the single most kind and compassionate human being I've ever met. Her eyes well up with tears when she reads the daily newspaper. She has a keen ability to put herself in other's shoes and feel for their struggles. She passed on to me her capacity for empathy, and so I credit her with the ease at which I accepted my spouse's gender change.

I expected that my mom would be supportive when Jake came out as transgender, but I never dreamed that she would embrace my whole unconventional lifestyle. She says, "You guys are living outside the norm of what people are comfortable with, but you're still good people, you're not hurting anyone." She frequently checks in for updates on pronoun preferences, posts transgender articles to her Facebook page, and welcomed Bradley to the family when she met him.

My life changes the past year have shocked my mom; shaken her to the core and flipped her perspective upside down. Yet when she asks me questions about my choices, they are from a place of curiosity and a genuine desire to understand me, never from a place of judgment. There have been multiple occasions where she's looked like a deer in the headlights and said, "I'm going to need some time to adjust to this," but then she comes right back with the same unconditional love. I am floored by her open-mindedness.

My mom is also spunky and a truckload of fun:

"Hey mom, I'm coming by to grab some packages."
"What are they?"
"Um just some stuff from Amazon."
"Oh...?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"Of course!"
"Lingerie for me... And doctor's scrubs for Bradley." (I start giggling devilishly)
"Oh my! You two are having some fun."
"Yeah, we're too goofy to improvise role playing, so I'm going to write a script."
"Can I borrow it when you're done?"

Happy Mothers Day, Mom! I adore you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's my birthday and I'll blog if I want to

Every birthday it's my highest priority to craft the ultimate day of relaxation-- dance class, massage, a good book, dinner with family, some kind of special dessert... It has to be perfect; no stress, no fuss. This is MY one day each year, and it's got to be the pinnacle of happiness.

For my 32nd birthday last week (coincidentally this is my 32nd blog post!), I didn't care about carving out a singularly flawless day. I didn't cry over having to miss my dance class and massage due to sinus problems. I didn't mind that I spent most of the day doing chores and running errands. I wasn't particular about the menu for my "Friendship is Magic" My Little Pony themed party (don't judge, I love kids stuff). I didn't feel a desperate need to make this one day special, because everyday is already enchanted.

I was recently explaining to a friend why this is the happiest I've been in my whole life:

"I was happy before Jake came out as trans, because we've always had an awesome marriage- we're great partners and best friends. Now on top of that happiness, I have this extra layer of fun and excitement from being madly in love with someone new. But it hasn't taken away anything from what I had before; all that deep love and stability is still there. I've just added another level of happiness to my happy foundation. And on top of that, we have the most loving and accepting group of trans and poly friends who have become our second family. It's like all these layers of love and joy that I couldn't even imagine were possible, and I'm blissed out all the time."

I don't need any presents this year because my whole life is a gift.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Same Love

Beautiful photos, beautiful story: lesbian wedding photos get love on Tumblr

And more photos of the adorable brides: the "blooper reel"

In the spirit of celebrating marriage equality, here's my all-time favorite music video. I've watched it at least twenty times (and that was BEFORE I even knew I was part of the LGBTQ community).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Unleashing My Inner Slut

WARNING: This post is about my sex life. If you're a relative or otherwise find the topic TMI, you'll want to skip this one.

This week I hit three thrilling milestones in my sexual liberation:

1. I had sex with two men in the same day (but alas, not at the same time, that is next on my bucket list).
Since Jake and I put our sex life on pause when she started transitioning, this is actually the first time in my life I've had two simultaneous sexual relationships. I finally had my poly cherry popped so to speak. Scandalous? Hardly. My partners all know and like each other, and are informed about exactly what I'm up to everyday.

2. I had my first orgasm that didn't involve my own hands.

3. I went to my first sex party.
I had heard the term "sex positive community," but I still didn't expect everyone to be so warm, joyful and friendly (in a non sleazy way). I was shocked at how utterly comfortable I felt stripping down and having sex inches away from strangers. I didn't get off on the novelty or the voyeurism/exhibitionist aspects as I expected; just the amazing orgasmic energy in the room. Bradley and I only played with each other as planned due to our safety rules.

I'm not going to write about these things in any greater detail, because it's not that kind of blog. But let's just say I F*ING LOVE MY NEW LIFE!

And I regret giving my mom this URL.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stop saying "whatever makes you happy"

People often say to my spouse about her transition, "Whatever makes you happy." Some say it with a dismissive passive-aggressive tone. Others say it with a warmhearted caring tone. We wish they wouldn't say it at all.

Changing genders isn't about the pursuit of happiness; it's about survival.

Finding a better job makes you happy. Getting a new wardrobe makes you happy. Adopting a pet makes you happy... These are lifestyle choices.

Gender change is a medical necessity to endure life. If it weren't, suicide rates among trans people wouldn't be so high, and transition wouldn't include medical treatments covered by insurance.

You wouldn't tell a cancer patient that you support her decision to undergo chemo because "whatever makes you happy." The end-result may be a happier life free from cancer, but the treatment is miserable. Likewise, transition is a long and painful process to free the patient from gender dysphoria. Nobody makes the decision lightly.

"Whatever makes you happy" demonstrates a lack of understanding about the gravity of the transgender condition and the challenges of transition. Please don't say it. There are better ways to show your support.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is wholesome (screw homophobia)

Honey Maid created a beautiful commercial celebrating the diversity of families:


Naturally, a bunch of conservatives wrote angry letters, criticizing that the ad is disgusting and normalizes sin.

Rather than pander to bigoted consumers, Honey Maid created a work of art from the hate mail, lovingly saying f-you to homophobia:

 
Genius advertising. I need to buy some graham crackers now.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

New Blog Name & URL- Transfinite Love

trans-fi-nite
(adjective)
1. going beyond or surpassing the finite
My love for my trans wife is transfinite.
People who practice polyamory believe that love is transfinite rather than a scarce resource.

I am renaming my blog Transfinite Love- transfinitelove.blogspot.com. If you follow me in your blog feed (thank you so much!!), please update the URL. I'll be switching over in the next couple weeks.

I am terrible at naming things; I could never be a copywriter who expeditiously creates clever brand names. When I launched this blog, I was impatient to start writing, and I plopped in the best name I could think up. I've since decided that "Joyful Girl" doesn't adequately reflect the content on here, so I'm changing it while my blog is still relatively unestablished.

I googled "transfinite love" and the first search result is a video of a math geek performing a love poem to his wife at a poetry slam. That sealed the deal:

Monday, March 31, 2014

STD Talk Is Sexy

Before I became polyamorous, my biggest fear about opening our marriage was compromising our sexual health. I couldn't fathom how I could be a "slut" and sleep around with other slutty people, without putting myself in grave danger of contracting STDs. I had no idea that safer sex is built into the culture of polyamory, so dating poly people surprisingly feels far safer than dating conventionally.

In my experience with monogamous relationships, there is a subtle sense of shame around discussing STDs. People avoid the conversation all-together unless they need to address a particular concern. When we first opened our marriage, I asked some single monogamous men about STD testing and safer sex practices, and they all gave me a similarly uncomfortable vague reply:

"I've been tested before. It doesn't feel as good with condoms, but we can use them if you want."

Wow. Charming. Way to inspire confidence that you're responsible and won't get me sick. No thankyouverymuch.

In contrast, I've asked the same question to numerous poly men, and they've all responded with specific details about their last test date and results, their recent and current partners, their safer sex practices, and a relieved, "I'm so glad you have the same concerns and want to talk about this."

As a result I've developed a strong mistrust of monogamous people who aren't accustomed to having open conversations about safer sex. I feel much safer dating poly people who have the same values and vocabulary around discussing sexual health. I feel even safer if a potential partner has a wife (consenting of course!) at home who he is trying to protect. Safest yet if we all meet each other, so we know the real people we are putting at risk if we don't adhere to our safety agreements.

There is no way to make sex 100% safe. The best you can do is determine your personal acceptable level of risk and practice safer sex to minimize that risk. Some people in open relationships use barriers for all sexual activity but have sex with strangers. Others are less strict about barriers for certain activities but carefully vet all potential partners. There is no single right way to practice safer sex (aside from being totally honest and transparent with all parties). The key is defining safety rules that feel right for you and your poly family, and finding partners with compatible rules.

This is the safety agreement that Jake, Bradley and I drafted:

We only have sex with people who:
  • We know, trust, and have vetted
  • Have a clean, uncompromised STD test from the last 6 months
  • Practice safer sex (with fluid bonding exceptions) and vetting with all partners
  • Don't have STDs or prostitutes in their network
We use barriers:
  • Always for intercourse
  • Unprotected oral sex is OK if the group is comfortable with the partner based on their sexual history, current network, and safer sex practices.

If you think that talking about STDs is unsexy, let me assure you otherwise. It's a turn-on to know that someone has a high level of concern for our mutual health and is mature enough to have the conversation. By the time I get naked with someone, we have reviewed test results, exchanged sexual histories, and agreed upon safer sex rules. So when we get into the bedroom there are no worries about risks or awkward in-the-moment negotiations about safety. Instead, the focus can be all about the pleasure. What could be sexier than that?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy-Inspiring Trans Girl Video

If you haven't seen the Barbara Walters interview with 11-year old Jazz, you must check it out! It's inspiring to see supportive parents raising a happy and well-adjusted trans kid:

2020: Transgender at 11

If only all families were so accepting, trans people could avoid childhoods filled with shame and gender dysphoria, and the wreckage that comes from transitioning later in life. I hope these types of high-profile media stories help raise awareness and open minds.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

There Is Nothing Funny About Transition

I thought this blog was going to be funny.

My last personal blog was a humorous reflection on mundane and absurd everyday life experiences. Since I approach my spouse's transition with a sense of joy, I expected this blog would have a similar lighthearted and comical tone, but with more interesting subject matter. I could joke about how my biggest concern when Jake came out as trans was whether we would get to vacation in Thailand for her SRS surgery. I could ponder the ways in which I should have known she was trans (her love of shoes! introducing me to Ani DiFranco!), and the ways in which hormones have changed her (deteriorating parallel parking skills). I would tell our story with love and humor.

But there is nothing funny about transition.

Anything mildly funny I have to share just plays off sexist gender stereotypes. Lord knows there is enough of that BS out there already;  I'm not going to make it my contribution to the dialogue. Anything real I have to share is riddled with pain because transition is fucking hard. It is heart-wrenching to watch the person I love dearest suffer everyday because the world is an unfriendly place to be a trans girl.

This is a typical week for my sweet wife Jake (all these things actually happened over the course of a week; I've just consolidated the timeline):

Monday- Jake's boss, who has known about the transition for months, exclaims out of nowhere, "It's going to take some time to wrap my head around your transition. I just can't picture you as a woman because you have such a guy's body. Except you have breasts!". She then proceeds to grab Jake's boobs. A stunned Jake replies, "Um, you know those are real."

Tuesday- Before Jake can address yesterday's sexual harassment, her boss lets her go via email due to "budgetary constraints." Jake spends hours on the phone trying to navigate my health insurance. The local endocrinologist's office tells her they don't have any doctors who "deal with those issues," and refers her to a hospital 50 miles away. She finds out that my insurance only covers a quarter of her current hormone therapy.

Wednesday- Jake goes to a comedy club with a friend. Jake dresses in guy-mode, because she doesn't know if there will be gender neutral bathrooms, if the comedians will mock her, or if drunk people will beat the shit out of her if she expresses her true gender. Jake is repeatedly called "sir" throughout the evening, and a fellow patron sharing her table says "oh excuse me, I have to shake hands with all the ladies first." Nothing offensive, just the persistent daily reinforcement that she's still perceived as a man.

Thursday- Jake goes on a friendly lunch date with a man who bolts as soon as they're done eating, seemingly out of disappointment that Jake isn't feminine enough. Jake gets ignored by several online dating prospects. A guy I recently started dating proactively sends Jake a rejection email to apologize for flirting because he doesn't want to lead Jake on. Well-intentioned but clumsy, he writes that he's "sadly straight" so it wouldn't go anywhere. Each tiny stinging rejection reminds Jake how far she has to go before she can date as a woman.

Friday- During dinner, my dad asks right in front of Jake, "Why don't you just divorce Jake and marry Bradley if you think you want to start a family together one day?"

Jake tells a lot of jokes. She says it's easier to keep herself laughing; the alternative would be crying. I on the other hand have been brewing with anger and these questions rattling around my brain:

Why does being polite mean publicly gendering everyone in verbal and written communication (sir, ma'am, mr., ms.) and where does that leave people who don't fit neatly into the gender binary?

Why do we care so much about gender anyways? What is the benefit of separating our species into two distinct genders, when it serves little practical application for the majority and causes immense suffering for a minority?

Why is gender the most important thing to know about a human before it's born? Why dictate how their room will look, what they will wear, and who they will be, before they even develop a conscious relationship with the world?

Why are there stringent moral judgments around relationship structures? Why can't people just respect any loving consensual relationship between decent human beings who bring happiness and support to each other's lives?

Why do I need to accept other people's intolerance because I'm living on the fringe? Why shouldn't I expect more from people? Why can't the world just be better? How can I make it better?

How can I help Jake endure when the depression runs so deep, the path to womanhood is so long, the world is so unwelcoming, and the best intentioned people are so hurtful?

Where is the funny in this?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Pervocracy on Sex Positivity

Here's a great read from The Pervocracy (not new, but new to me):

What I Mean When I Say I'm Sex-Positive

The blog's "Cosmocking" series (mocking of Cosmo magazine) is also worth checking out. Snarky and hilarious.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Passed with Flying Colors

I spent last week on a wonderful ski trip with Bradley and 20+ members of his family. I passed three crucial tests:

1. I missed my spouse.
This sounds like a no-brainer and I knew that I would miss Jake. It was the longest we'd been a part in over a decade. However, Jake wanted confirmation that I actually still need zir* and that Bradley and I wouldn't default into a happy-hetero-normative-monogamish-twosome given the chance. I missed Jake worse every day (we wound up talking for two hours/day by the end of the week!), and Bradley missed zir too.

2. My boyfriend and I can spend a week together without driving each other crazy. 
Bradley and I were practically joined at the hip for eight days, but we didn't get on each other's nerves one bit. Not even during a fifteen hour travel day following zero hours of sleep. We spent a lot of time gazing googley eyed and dreamily at each other while professing our love. Sappy but true.

3. I get along with my boyfriend's family.
I adore Bradley's whole huge boisterous family. I was grateful that they warmly welcomed me, even though I'm a (gasp!) married woman. Bradley had given everyone the scoop on Jake's transition and our poly lifestyle, so I could show up and be myself without worrying about hiding anything. Bradley was the one who brought up Jake in almost every conversation.

It's official: This triad is solid!

*I am experimenting with gender neutral pronouns, because I don't know what to call my spouse anymore and ze hasn't expressed a preference. It was simple when Jake was either presenting as a man or a woman, but now ze is almost perfectly between genders: a woman hormonally, wearing guy-ish clothes, with androgynous hair and makeup. Ze prefers going by Jake, unless ze is super femmed out or hanging out with a specific group of trans friends who know her as Jasmine. It would be easy enough to stick with "him, my husband" when using the name Jake, but that just feels wrong now. She is my wife.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Round-Up of Awesomeness- February Edition

Stuff from the Interwebs that made me smile this month:

Janet Rocks the Colbert Report
I love Colbert and I can't wait to read Janet Mock's memoir, Redefining Realness. Her Colbert Report interview was delightful.

Sex at Dawn TED Talk
If you like the premise of Sex at Dawn but have trouble slogging through the book, this 14-minute Christopher Ryan TED Talk is for you.

Beyond Women Laughing Alone with Salad
Whether you're a Sheryl Sandberg fan or critic, you gotta appreciate that LeanIn.org is partnering with Getty Images to create a collection of stock photography that better represents women.

Trans-Friendly Bathroom App
The ability to pee safely is one of the many cisgender privileges that I took for granted before my spouse came out as transgender. Refuge Restrooms is a new bathroom finder app.

And Baby Makes 4
B.C. has a new law allowing three or more parents on a birth certificate. This poly news blog has the story, along with a compilation of recent similar legislation in the U.S.

Ethically Slutty Videos
The Ethical Slut changed. my. life. I'm looking forward to watching the new web-series with my polycule.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Out

From Left to Right: Me, My Husband Jake/Wife Jasmine in "Girl Mode", My Boyfriend Bradley
  
I am posting a photo of my happy little poly family, to celebrate the relief of coming out to almost all the key people in our lives. There are still a few folks left to tell, but Bradley and I have met each other's immediate families, and the three of us have even been to a work-related function together. We're pretty darn out now.
 
It feels liberating to live openly and authentically, with no shame for our alternative lifestyle. When we're in public, we don't hold back our affections or hush our voices when talking about poly or trans issues (we're lucky to live in a safely liberal area). This is our life, and we're going to live it.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

BlogHer Here I Come!

I registered for my first blogging conference, BlogHer '14, which happens to be in my neck of the woods this year. Let me know if you're attending, so we can meet up in person! Early bird pricing ends Feb 28.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

But I Support You

My blog feed has been buzzing with commentary on Piers Morgan's insulting interview with trans author and advocate Janet Mock. Trans*forming Family posted a great roundup of the interviews and reactions, along with links to blog posts about how to be a true ally (not just say you're one): "On being a cisgender ally to the transgender community".

I've witnessed during Jake/Jasmine's transition that those who proclaim the most that they're supportive are actually the least supportive. If you're a genuine ally, you don't say it, you show it. If you find yourself repeatedly saying you're supportive, then perhaps your actions don't reflect your good intentions and you should ask:

  • What have I done to show my support, beyond just stating it?

  • Have I been declaring my support as a defense for behavior that my trans connection has labeled offensive or hurtful?

  • Do I know what my trans connection wants for support? Have I asked? If so, have I followed through on what they requested?

  • Have I been thinking about my trans connection's feelings and putting myself in their shoes, or have I been focusing on how I feel about their transition?

  • If I stop saying that I'm supportive, how will my trans connection know that I'm an ally?

Jasmine's supportive family members declared their support only once- when Jasmine first came out. Since then, they have demonstrated their support in simple ways such as asking for updates on name and pronoun preferences, engaging her respectfully in discussion about transition, forwarding her links to news and resources about trans issues, and generally treating her like a normal and accepted part of the family.

The family members who keep repeating "I support you" or worse- "But I support you," have refused to educate themselves in any way, make passive aggressive comments to negate Jasmine's progress, alternate between completely avoiding discussing transition and inquiring about genital surgery, and generally keep her at an awkward distance as they wallow in obvious denial and self-pity.

I asked Jasmine the last time I declared my support for her transition, and neither of us could remember. Sure, I say things like "Ohmygod your cooking is so orgasmically good; reason #250 why I'm never going to leave you!!" but I no longer make any overarching statements about how I'll stand by her side through transition. I don't need to. She knows because I bought her a necklace with "Jasmine" engraved for our wedding anniversary. She knows because I tell her she's beautiful, and I mean it. She knows because I'm proud to take her out and show her off when she's presenting as a woman. She knows because she can talk to me about everything she's feeling, and I listen and care. She knows because I read trans books and blogs and share what I've learned. She knows because I'm still here, treating her like the same precious spouse she's always been.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Non-Monogamy is Still Hard; Here's a Song About It

Since I'm new to poly, every milestone (the first time a partner falls in love with someone else, has sex with someone else, etc.) is a big adjustment for me. Intellectually I feel awesome, emotionally I feel shitty.

Left Brain: I am thrilled that you finally found a connection like the one I've been enjoying for the last 6 months. It's been so hard to see you lonely, I've been wanting this for you for a long time, and I couldn't be happier.

Right Brain: Nooooooo! WTF!!! %&#*!!!

Left Brain: High five! I want to celebrate with you and show my support. I want to throw a party.

Right Brain: I want to throw a tantrum.

Left Brain: I understand what this new connection means to you, and feel secure in our relationship.

Right Brain: Blah blah (rejection), blah blah (irrational insecurity), blah blah (animosity to new person), blah blah (crazy crazy).

I wish my left brain could knock out my right brain in this battle, but I've learned that I can't just intellectualize away my emotions. The best I can do is give my right brain time to feel, take a step back and try to get to the core of what's bothering me, talk about it, heal and move on.

The video below is a perfect representation of what I've been struggling with. Admission: This blog post is partially an excuse to introduce you to Bo Burnham, who I recently discovered. If you haven't seen his brilliant musical comedy, check out his hour special "what".

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Reason #107 Why I Love Polyamory

The sweet thrill of a kiss at the end of a good first date

The giddy post-kiss high as I walk back to my car

The instant urge to text an update to my partners to share my excitement

The overwhelming desire to go home and hold my partners tight, and shower them with affection

The liberation of knowing that even though I'm married, I can experience this beautiful first-kiss cycle over and over again


Conventional monogamous wisdom would have us believe that being excited about someone new automatically means being less excited about someone old. I've found the exact opposite to be true.

Titillating newness has the downside of uncertainly. After first meeting someone, everything is still unknown, from interest on either side to compatibility to what type of relationship might evolve (or not) from the connection. In sharp contrast, my existing relationships are comfortably stable and secure. I know that we love each other unconditionally, can count on each other, and have a future together if we just keep treating each other well a day at a time. In other words, making out with hot new guys makes me appreciate my existing relationships even more.

Poly gives me the best of both worlds- the intoxicating pleasure of new possibilities, and an ever-deepening gratitude for the established loves of my life.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crime After Crime


Last weekend I went to a screening of Crime After Crime, followed by a Q&A with one of the lawyers featured in the film. The movie was incredible-- riveting, heartbreaking and enraging. It's an absolute must-see to understand the failings of our judicial system for incarcerated victims of domestic violence.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Gender Change is Easy; Non-Monogamy is Hard

For the record, I don't actually think that gender change is easy. Gender change is one of the hardest things a person can do emotionally, physically, socially, financially... However, as the partner I've found it far easier to adjust to my spouse's transness than to a non-monogamous lifestyle.

My grieving period after Jake came out as trans felt like it lasted about three weeks. If we were still monogamous, I can almost guarantee that I would be still grieving now (8 months later). Polyamory strips away the layers of internal conflict that come from relying on a trans wife to meet all my romantic and sexual needs. With those aside, I am free to love Jake unconditionally. I don't care what gender she is, so long as she's the same hilarious, irreverent, philosophical, intelligent, loving, cuddly person at her core. All the rest of the stuff---body, mannerisms, voice---seem superficial and inconsequential so far.

Instead of grieving the loss of my husband with each transition milestone, I celebrate the wife that she is becoming. I can be her biggest cheerleader without all the reservations about what this means for our marriage, what this means for my sexual identity, and oh-my-god will I never have sex with a man again. Polyamory makes the gender transition easy.

Non-monogamy on the other hand is difficult:

It's not difficult in an angst-ridden daily struggle kind of way. Most days I am overflowing with love and gratitude. I frequently find myself bursting into spontaneous happy dances, giggling in bed, and commuting to work with a giant grin on my face.

It's not difficult in a test-our-relationship kind of way either. I've seen other poly couples experience a lot of pain and strife when they first open their relationship. There is something about polyamory being the singular solution to us staying happily married that makes it easier to adapt.

Non-monogamy is simply difficult because it's different. Any big life change, no matter how awesome, requires a period of adjustment.

These are a few rules I've developed to cope with the change:

1. Give myself permission to feel. Occasionally I get jealous, insecure, sad, lonely or scared. So much so that I have a little cry about it. Then I start crying harder out of self-loathing for having these feelings, which I think are irrational and not aligned with what I want to feel. Then I feel guilty for crying so hard, because I think it sends the wrong message to my partners about how I support their poly happiness. So pretty soon I'm bawling because I hate myself for hating myself for crying.

I have to stop beating myself up for having feelings. I am human. Specifically a human who has been conditioned for 30+ years to believe that you should only be in love with or physically intimate with one person at a time. That is a lot of monogamous mindfuck to overcome. It's not going to happen overnight, no matter how much I embrace my new lifestyle, or how perfectly it's been working out so far.

2. Own my emotions. Giving myself permission to feel is not a license to lash out or use my emotions to manipulate others' behavior. Since crying can often be interpreted that way, I am explicit with my partners:

"I am only crying because this is still a big adjustment and I just need to have a good cry about it. I do NOT want to you to [skip your date, not spend the night, stop seeing the cis* girl, etc.]. That would only make me more upset for infringing on your happiness. All I want is for you to have a good time and for me to adjust to it. I am really happy for you even though it doesn't look like it right now because I can't stop fucking crying."

3. Ask for what I need. Sometimes it's reassurance that my partner will still want me even if he finds someone else amazing (I know this already, but it's sure nice to hear). Sometimes it's a small adjustment in behavior such as checking with me before confirming date plans so we can carve out enough us-time during the week. Sometimes it's nothing other than permission to cry guilt-free. Sometimes it's nothing at all.

---

Why live this way if it's so challenging?

Well, it's not a fraction as challenging as trying to live monogamously with a spouse whose gender conflicts with my strong sexual orientation. And it's certainly not as challenging as getting a divorce when we feel like we're each other's safe foundation in life.

Plus, the benefits are tremendous-- an abundance of love, sexual adventure, personal growth, an ever-expanding extended family...

And endless possibilities.


* "Cis" or cisgender is the label for someone who was born as their current gender, i.e. I am a cis female. It was a bigger adjustment for me to see Jake with another cis woman than it was for me to see him with a man or even a trans woman.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reason #32 Why I Love Polyamory

When my boyfriend is home sick and I'm traveling for work, my husband brings him chicken soup, tea and other get-well supplies.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Petition for Trans Bullying Victim

16-year old transgender student, Jewelyes Gutierrez, is facing a misdemeanor battery charge after being involved in a fight with three girls last November. Regardless of who started the fight, these are the facts as I understand them:

1. Jewelyes was persistently bullied at school leading up to this incident.
2. The fight, which happened at the high school, was 3 against 1.
3. She is the only one of the four girls charged with a crime.

Other than discrimination, I can't fathom why the DA would prosecute, rather than leave the disciplinary action to the school system (which will hopefully improve its anti-bullying programs). Even the school officials are dumbfounded.

You can sign a petition for the charges to be dropped:
http://www.change.org/petitions/drop-charges-against-transgender-teen-defending-herself

In other news, CeCe McDonald was released from prison today, after serving time for killing a man in self-defense during a violent transphobic attack. HRC posted an update here.

I am horrified by the continuing trend of violence against trans women and the prosecution of those who defend themselves. I used to feel secure walking in public with my husband-- what a luxury to have a big, strong man to protect me. Now I fear for her safety.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

No Escalators Here

Jake, Bradley and I were chatting last night about how much easier it is to live in the present while dating polyamorously. We can let each relationship unfold as it will, without worrying about where it's going. We can dream about a future together without stressing over whether it will come true. We can just be together, a day at a time, enjoying our life. We can just be.

In monogamy, it's almost impossible to avoid future-tripping (trying to foresee the outcome of relationships), because dating is a hunt to find "the one." You only get to pick one person to spend the rest of your life with, and that person must fulfill your every need and desire. You don't want to waste precious time with people you suspect aren't going to make the cut, no matter how much you love them. Even if you enjoy their company today, you worry about questions like:
  • Will they make you happy in ten years?
  • Do they satisfy all your needs for a life partner?
  • Could you have sex with them forever without getting bored?
  • Do your dreams match up enough?
  • Could you see them being the parent of your child?
These are important questions to ask if you're trying to whittle down your romantic and sexual prospects to one single life-long person, but can add a layer of pressure and constant future-analysis to a relationship, often creating agony.

This blog post, Riding the relationship escalator (or not), has been the single best analogy to help me understand the difference between dating monogamously and polyamorously. I reference "the escalator" frequently in conversation with Jake and Bradley, and with poly friends. I highly recommend reading the article (to everyone, not just poly people!). It offers great insights into the socially acceptable default relationship model that I took for granted until last year.

I frequently have people either try to put me on the escalator (if they're monogamous) or accuse me of being on the escalator (if they're polyamorous):

Q: "So are you and Bradley getting 'serious'? You spend a lot of time together and you're meeting his family soon!"
A: "Well, I'm not sure what 'serious' would be in the context of this relationship. I mean I'm married already so... I would say our relationship is seriously awesome and I'm seriously in love."

Q: "It seems like you've been off the market since you started dating Bradley. How is that polyamorous?"
A: "Our poly lifestyle gives us the freedom to see other people, but that doesn't mean we have to exercise it all the time."

Q: "So you're saying 'I love you' and calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend. It sure sounds like you're getting on that escalator."
A: "We talked about what those words meant before we started using them to clarify expectations. For us, 'I love you' is just an expression of feeling in the moment, not some kind of commitment about our future together. 'Boyfriend/girlfriend' is just the most accurate way to describe our relationship and the amount of time we spend together; it doesn't mean we've taken a symbolic next step in our relationship."

Q: "What if you and Bradley fall in love and want to spend your life together and start a family?"
A: "We could totally do that. With Jake."

Q: "But don't you think you might eventually want to go back to a normal life-- get re-married, have kids? You and Jake could still be friends."
A: "Not in a million years. Why would I do that when my marriage is so amazing and I can have them both? Just to be more socially acceptable? I love my new life. This is the happiest I've ever been."

No more escalators for me.