Thursday, July 23, 2015

Reason #14 Why I Love Polyamory

I was touched & grateful that my sister invited
both of my life partners to her wedding. 
I miss blogging. I have outlines in my head for rousing blog posts titled, "What I Learned About BDSM From Dating a Sadist" and "All I Want for My Birthday is a Threesome." But I've struggled to carve out the time or muster the energy to write.

Over the span of 6 weeks, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and started chemo, my sister got married (I was the matron of honor), and my polycule bought and moved into a house. I'm still recovering. Through it all, I've been grateful to have two committed life partners instead of one.

During my sister's wedding weekend, my wife stayed with my dad to take care of him. Aside from suffering through chemo treatments, my dad had nerve damage from a tumor on his spine, and lost the ability to use his legs. My wife fed him, kept him company, drove up alone to the wedding two hours away, live-streamed the ceremony for Dad, and then drove my my mom back home to be with him. Meanwhile, my boyfriend drove me to the salon appointment, picked up 300 pounds of ice for the reception, found and assembled a last minute guest book, and helped me with brunch for the wedding party the next morning. I can't imagine what the weekend would have been like without my mighty team of 3. Yet one more reason why I value polyamory-- extra support for challenging times.

Having my wife and boyfriend under one roof has been heavenly so far, but there is still endless work before we can feel settled in our new home. So I would love to tell you about my sexual revelations, but I need to go do some laundry and unpack boxes.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reason #19 Why I Love Polyamory

Two words: hug sandwich.


This is one of my favorite photos. My wife took a selfie when my boyfriend and I were falling asleep. It warms my heart to see the love on her sweet face, and the way she both literally and figuratively embraces my relationship with my boyfriend. Plus, I think she looks extra cute here.

I adore my cuddly poly family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

R.I.P. Husband

"Your husband is gone and he's never coming back. There is a loss that needs to be grieved."

That's what my therapist told me in our last session.

About a month ago, hanging out with my wife on the couch, my eyes drifted to our wedding photo, and suddenly welled up with tears. I was hit with the realization that I no longer recognize the man in the photo. I still remember that man, but only vaguely, and he is not the same person who comforts me as I cry on the couch. Well, the same person, but not the man I married.

It's strange to feel a sense of loss when I can't articulate anything that is actually lost. I don't miss the man I married. I don't wish he was here instead of my wife. I don't miss my life before she came out as transgender and we opened up our marriage. I can't pinpoint one tangible thing that is gone. And yet there is a profound grief. Our relationship has changed forever; one chapter of my life is over. I like this new chapter far better, but that doesn't ease the pain.

I only grieved for a few weeks (read that blog post here) when Jay first came out as trans and started transitioning. My focus quickly shifted to the excitement of our polyamorous adventures, and I didn't feel any loss as our relationship evolved. Only now, experiencing the finality of her transition two years later, am I swept back into unexpected grief. I look at our wedding photo often and I sob almost every time.

Our 10 year wedding anniversary is coming up next year, and I want to schedule a shoot with the same photographer. If I get my way, I will wear the dress I wore when I said my vows a decade ago, and my wife will wear a wedding dress too. Then we can have a photo in the living room that represents our new life together, our transitioned marriage. Then when I look at our wedding photo I can see my wife, instead of some guy I used to know.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Wonderful Sexless Marriage

A blogger I follow was looking for people to interview for a piece on sexless polyamorous marriages. I sent her the following background as an email introduction. I wasn't planning on posting it here, but since I haven't had the energy to blog lately, it feels like a good time to share this piece of my story:

I met my spouse 14 years ago when I was 18 and she (he at the time) was 25. We never totally clicked sexually, but I didn't know that because I was so inexperienced. I had one boyfriend through most of high school and didn't get a chance to date before I met Jay (that's the pseudonym I use on my blog) my first year of college. We fell in love and developed a wonderfully solid happy life partnership. We never talked about the lack of sexual chemistry because the sex was satisfying enough, and everything else was so perfect, I don't think either of us wanted to rock the boat. 

When Jay got sober two years into our marriage, that's when the sex began to decline. Neither of us would have said that at the time, but it's a very clear milestone in hindsight. Without alcohol to numb her gender dysphoria, Jay had to start dealing with the feelings of being utterly uncomfortable in her own skin, but not yet knowing why. We never stopped having sex, but over time I was the one who usually initiated, I was the only one performing any foreplay, and she no longer wanted to french kiss me. I began to feel undesirable and ashamed of my body. 

When Jay finally identified the root of her life-long depression and came out as transgender, it was a great relief to both of us to put our sex life on hold. She could stop playing the role of husband and male, and I learned that the sexual rejection had nothing to do with my attractiveness as a woman. Since we cherish our marriage and desperately wanted to stay together, we quickly figured out that polyamory would be a good solution. As she transitioned, she could explore her new female body with men and women (she's bisexual/pansexual), and I could make up for lost time and get to know myself sexually for the first time with different men.

The door is always open for us to have a sexual relationship again, but it's not something that feels right to either of us right now. I'm straight. I believe that sexuality is a spectrum, so I was hoping I'd uncover some small part of me that could be attracted to women, but so far I seem pretty hard-wired for men. For my wife, having sex with a straight girl, especially one with a lot of sexual baggage from our marriage, would be miserable given her gender dysphoria. For me, healing from my feelings of sexual rejection, and finding myself unattracted to her femininity, playing together sounds painful. But we're both open to the possibility that could change one day, especially as she gets closer to completing transition. 

People who don't understand polyamory say things like, "Why wouldn't you just divorce Jay and be friends?" or "Aren't you basically just roommates if you aren't having sex?" But that's such a narrow view of marriage. Our relationship has always foremost been about being a team, a family, life adventure buddies. We still sleep together every night, cuddle and kiss, share our finances, and provide each other with a safe foundation in life. Roommates and friends don't have that level of intimacy. Sex is the one thing that's easy to find outside the relationship; the rest takes years and years to develop. Even if we were monogamously married with an amazing sex life, chances are when we're old and ailing (hopefully in our 90's!); it wouldn't be about the sex at the end of our days; it would be about the companionship. And we're in it for the long haul. 

Not our most flattering photo but it sure captures how much we laugh together.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reason #78 Why I Love Polyamory


It's about the food. Well, sort of.

I like to joke with my wife that while she doesn't give me orgasms (we don't have a sexual relationship right now), she gives me countless foodgasms. And for a girl like me with tons of dietary restrictions, those are even harder to come by (pardon the pun). A professional chef, Jay cooks me meals every week that make me moan with delight and gratitude. Sometimes she asks for my input:

"What do you want for dinner tonight?"
"I don't know, something with seafood."
"More specific please."
"OK, I feel like pasta with white wine garlic sauce and parsley, fresh mussels, tomatoes, mushrooms and broccolini."
"Done."

Other times she surprises me: "Wake up sweetie! I made you a big stack of gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pancakes."

Other times she cooks to order: "I got eggs and a bunch of vegetables. I'll make you and Bradley omelets however you want."

Jay cooks with love and humor, and has been taking care of me in the kitchen for fourteen years.


Bradley and I have had some exciting meals in the year and a half we've been dating. We've taken a ski lift to a restaurant on top of a hill, and eaten brunch in city hot spots after sex parties. No matter how good the food is, I rarely remember what I ate. What sticks in mind is the feeling of staring into each other's eyes, madly in love. We giddily rehash the previous night's sexcapades, or talk about the quirks that we adore in each other. During most of our meals we wind up marveling at our inexplicable connection, how lucky we are to have found this deep romance, how we want to grow old together.

Mack is my newest amor and he fits in my life with warmth and ease. We go to yoga classes and hiking together, and we talk about fitness and food. Sometimes he comes to my work for a quick bite on my lunch break. Sometimes we walk a mile to a restaurant. Sometimes we go grocery shopping together and he cooks for me at home. When we have time, we have wildly hot sex. Mack relaxes me and gives me perspective to slow down. With his inspiration I overhauled my breakfast routine, and I think of him every morning when I drink my super-healthy vegetable and protein packed smoothies.

Some of my favorite meals have been with multiple lovers. Potlucks that bring together all our polyamorous partners and friends. Dinner and game night with my triad and Mack's triad (his wife and her girlfriend). Or just a few days ago when I spent the afternoon with Mack and the evening with Bradley, and the three of us had dinner in between. I get giggly when I sit between two lovers, tickled at being in close proximity with multiple people I care about intimately.

I am a well-fed poly girl, and each of my relationships nurtures my soul in a different way.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lie to Love- The World's Worst Relationship Advice

Typically when I read an article that's utter bullshit, especially when most of the comments agree, I just groan in disgust and move on. However, Lie to Love: 20 White Lies You Always Tell In Healthy Relationships on Elite Daily inspired me to write a blog post deconstructing why it's the most dreadful advice I've ever read. I would dismiss the piece as absurd, except it exaggerates a number of monogamous dating conventions that are widely accepted. Here are some of the lies we always tell out of love, according to the author:

He's the biggest you've ever had
He may not be the biggest, but right here, right now, he is. He's the only guy you're with, so he's the only one you're comparing him to. 

The assumption here is that comparing your lovers is inevitable, but it's not. It's a choice. If you're having this conversation, either you've initiated a penis size competition, or he is insecurely asking how he measures up. Either way, you don't have to go there. When I have jealous episodes, my boyfriend refuses to tell me how I compare to other women he dates. Even if it would temporarily alleviate my insecurity, he is smart enough to know it's a bad idea. Today I might have the bigger boobs, but one day that won't be true, and then he'll be stuck having to lie, say something painful, or hurt me with his new avoidance of answering the question. Better to set the standard that we don't make comparisons, and instead focus on communicating our love and what we genuinely desire about each other.

How you really wanted to spend the weekend
If he spent all Saturday pretending he actually enjoyed the mall, then you'd spend all Sunday pretending you give a sh*t about football.

My spouse and I never understood the need for couples to merge all their interests and spend 100% of their free time together. We are unique individuals who can still enjoy separate friendships and hobbies. Why not skip the pretending all together-- you go to the mall while he is watching the game, and then meet up later for date night? You'll both be happier.

How long it takes you to get ready
He doesn't need to know you spent an hour on your hair and, unfortunately, you did not wake up like that. If beauty is an illusion, let yours keep up the smoke and mirrors. 

If this article was titled "20 Things We Do To Protect Ourselves When We First Start Dating Someone New," I wouldn't have a problem with this one. We all put up screens to varying degrees, concealing our imperfections and bodily functions, until we establish enough trust to be seen in all our natural messy glory. However, given the title is about love and healthy relationships, this lie isn't sustainable. What happens if you move in together and your partner can see exactly what you look like when you wake up and how long you take to get ready? Do you really want to create a giant illusion to bust if things progress? One of my favorite moments in new relationships is when I'm finally comfortable for my partner to see me without my makeup on, first thing in the morning. It is wonderful to feel that vulnerable, to discover that my partner finds me beautiful without the facade

How intense your last relationship was
Whether you were engaged, living together or just had amazing sex, none of that needs to be known. You have an ex and everything about them is just white noise.

Past relationships are part of your story. They are experiences that helped shape who you are today, how you think about love, and what you're looking for in a partner. They give your life context. Why would you hide that?

The platonic date he/she doesn't need to know about
Whether it was a work dinner with a hot client or coffee with a coworker, sometimes the best thing you can say is absolutely nothing...if it really was just nothing.

If you have to lie about this, then I would speculate that either a.) Your platonic date meant more to you than you're willing to admit. Or b.) Your significant other can't handle knowing that you spend time with members of the opposite sex, in any context, ever. Either way, something dysfunctional is going on there. Healthy relationships are built on trust and honesty.

How often you think about him/her
Just all day. Every second of every minute. Every minute of every hour. And every time you hear something that reminds you of him/her- which is almost everything.

Someone thinking about me 24/7? Creepy. I prefer my partners to think about many other things throughout the day, and then share them with me, so I can appreciate their intellect and bond with them over stimulating conversation. I guess if your goal is to develop a superficial relationship with someone who treats you like a sex doll, pretending to be physically perfect with no thoughts outside your relationship is decent advice.

How much you actually love him/her back
You try and play it cool, but inside you're dying to tell him/her how much you think, talk and dream about him/her. Your partner is your reason for being and the light of your life- but for now, you'll just say, "I love you too."

When I was monogamous, I kept my cards close to my chest and revealed my feelings slowly, because that's how people play the dating game. You don't want to find out you're more in love than your partner-- to scare them away with the intensity of your feelings, or risk rejection. Now my partners and I readily share our feelings early in relationships. And you know what happens? You build intimacy faster.

I've done the white lying and can assure you that it's not the key to a healthy relationship, at least not a deep meaningful one. In my experience, the key is to fearlessly be myself, communicate honestly, and share my life openly with my partners. By doing that I've not only developed functional life-long loving relationships, but I've also found self-acceptance and happiness.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

8 Awesome Things About Finding Out Your Husband Is A Woman

I wrote a post for T-Central, a wonderful site where most of my readers come from, and where I've found many of my favorite trans bloggers. Read it here!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Human Sexuality Classes for Empathy

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I took a human sexuality course in college because I was a curious, horny teenager. One of the lessons happened to be on transgender people. The professor invited MTF and FTM guest speakers to tell their stories and answer questions. One of them walked us through an exercise:

Close your eyes.
Imagine you wake up in the morning as the opposite gender. You are still the exact same person with the same personality, but if you're a man- you now have a woman's body, and if you're a woman- you now have a man's body. 
Look down at your body and touch your skin. Your chest, your waist, your genitals, your legs. How scary and confusing to have this body that should belong to someone else. 
Look in the mirror. The reflection staring back doesn't match.
Go outside, to work or school. Everyone addresses you as the wrong gender. You know your true gender but nobody else can see it. 
You go to sleep praying you will be in the right body when you wake up tomorrow. But the next day starts all over again the same. 
Open your eyes.
This is what it's like being transgender.

Eleven years later when my spouse came out as trans, I was immediately empathetic. I understood why she needed to transition and supported her without hesitation. Not because I'm some saintly wife or magically compassionate person. But because I was educated. I signed up for a college elective for the titillation factor, and it wound up giving me the knowledge I needed to be a supportive spouse over a decade later. 

Can you imagine a world in which all students studied human sexuality? Or better yet, an empathy curriculum that explores privilege across gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability... Not a surface level sensitivity training where you learn how to respect diversity, but rather a deep dive into the histories and stories of minority groups, where you connect with real people and put yourself in their shoes. If only this were a core requirement of secondary school education. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas for Two & Family Trans-Education


Jay and I were supposed to spend Christmas with Bradley's family across the country; we'd been looking forward to it for the past six months. We marveled at how wonderful it would be to spend the holiday together as a polycule, how lucky we were that Bradley's family would welcome me and my wife into their home.

It seemed to good to be true.
Because it was.

Last month we found out that Bradley's mom forgot to tell her husband that she had invited Jay as well as myself. Her husband had concerns about Jay's transgender "lifestyle choice," and made it clear that I was the only one who was welcome to join Bradley for Christmas.

Bradley was livid and wanted to back out of his family Christmas all together if Jay couldn't come. Jay was understanding and encouraged me to go without her. I was deflated but couldn't let Bradley miss his family trip, and there was no way I'd leave Jay alone with her unsupportive family for Christmas. So we split up our polycule for the holidays. Bradley flew home, and I stayed with Jay (my family doesn't celebrate Christmas). Jay was feeling too under the weather (physically but more emotionally) to go to her parents as usual, so we had a celebration for two. I surprised her with a mini Christmas tree and stockings filled with her favorite treats, and she cooked delectable feasts. We had a lovely holiday snuggling and watching movies.

Bradley, the ever amazing partner and advocate, is on a mission to educate his family and gain acceptance for Jay. In preparation for in-person conversations over Christmas vacation, he sent the essay below to his extended family a few weeks ago:


Things to Know

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who love me unconditionally. This has been supremely important over the past year as my life and lifestyle have changed dramatically. The importance of this support is impossible to quantify.


Unfortunately, I have confused the unconditional love expressed by my family for the understanding and acceptance of those closest to me. This has led to significant confusion and fear — something which I was regrettably unaware of until recently. Such situations are best addressed by informing and educating those who do not understand so that they can know that they have nothing to fear. This is why I wrote this essay.


Last year, Jay was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is an officially recognized medical disorder (Described in ICD-10 CM and DSM-5) where a person experiences chronic severe discontent with the sex they were assigned at birth. It is estimated that gender dysphoria affects around 0.5% of the general population. The condition is life threatening — around half of those diagnosed with gender dysphoria have admitted to attempting to commit suicide at some point in their lives (compared to 1.6% of the general population). Gender dysphoria has nothing to do with which gender someone is attracted to, only the gender that they identify as.


The current (and only) medically-recognized treatment for persons diagnosed with gender dysphoria is to support the individual in physically modifying their body to better match their psychological gender identity. This process is called transition.


Typical procedures associated with transition include Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS), and, for individuals transitioning from male to female, Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). Because gender dysphoria is a formally recognized medical disorder, many of the procedures associated with transition are often covered by medical insurance.


In addition to the medical procedures above, transition includes taking steps to outwardly present as the gender that they identify as. For a male-to-female, this could mean wearing women's clothing (including possibly a bra), feminine hair styling, and/or use of makeup. The decision of when to “present” as their identified gender is complicated and based on many factors, but often happens several months after HRT.


It might seem that SRS would be the ultimate goal of transition, however it is only a means to an end. The ultimate goal for someone in transition is to be able to always “pass” as the gender that they identify as. While SRS is an important milestone for many in transition, it is not a requirement and should not be overemphasized. In daily life you don’t use someone’s genitalia to identify if they are male or female — you simply decide based on whether they “look” male or “look” female, based on a variety of factors including clothing, hair, bone structure, etc. In other words, if you are never going to be around an individual when they aren’t wearing clothes, you shouldn’t be concerned with what is between their legs. Period.


Transition is an incredibly painful and awkward experience, often taking several years. During this period of time, their presented gender may be perceived by others ambiguously. Simple tasks like using a public bathroom can suddenly become complicated dilemmas with significant consequences(“Which restroom should I use?”). General lack of education about gender dysphoria and transition confuses many people in the general population, leading to taunting, ridicule, and even violent attacks.


People who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria are referred to as “transgender”, or “trans” for short. Take care to not confuse being transgender with "transvestism". Transvestism is the practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the other sex. Transvestism is not associated with gender dysphoria.


It is important to recognize that being transgender, and the associated process of transition, is not a “lifestyle choice”. People who are transgender were born that way and had no choice in the matter. In the same way that no one chooses to have type-1 diabetes and take insulin shots for the rest of their lives, no one chooses to be transgender.


Jay is currently in transition from her assigned sex at birth (male) to the gender she has always identified as (female). She is presenting full-time as female and, to my eyes, passing beautifully. She has been receiving HRT for over a year now and is preparing for SRS and FFS. Jay is not changing her first name because the name is already conveniently gender-neutral. She prefers that others use feminine pronouns to refer to her.


Please try to always use the appropriate gender pronouns (She, her, etc.) when referring to Jay. This is really only difficult if you knew Jay before she started presenting as female or you have been around someone using male pronouns when referring to Jay. Using the appropriate pronouns is important even when not in her presence — doing this helps other people remember to use the correct pronouns. If you notice you used the wrong gender of pronoun, simply correct yourself and move on. If someone corrects you, know that they are trying to help you. Making an honest effort to use the correct pronouns is the most important part, not how infrequently you use the wrong pronoun. If you make an honest effort it will eventually become effortless. Don’t worry, she won’t ever be going back to using male pronouns, so you only have to go through this once.


So, to summarize:


  • Gender Dysphoria is an officially recognized medical condition characterized as one having a gender identity that differs from their assigned sex at birth. Think “a woman trapped in the body of a man”, or “a man trapped in the body of a woman”. (It isn’t always this clear cut, but you get the idea)
  • Gender dysphoria has nothing to do with which gender someone is attracted to, only the gender that someone identifies as.
  • A person who has gender dysphoria is commonly referred to as “transgender” or “trans”. This is the “T” in LGBT.
  • Do not confuse transgender with transvestism. Transvestism is NOT associated with gender dysphoria.
  • The officially sanctioned treatment for someone who is transgender is to support them in physically modifying their body to better match their psychological gender identity. This process is called “transition”, and helps to relieve the extreme emotional distress caused by the condition.
  • Getting treatment for gender dysphoria can be a life or death matter: About half of those diagnosed have admitted to having attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
  • Violence and discrimination against transgender persons — especially those in transition — is rampant, due to misinformation and lack of education.
  • Being transgender is not a lifestyle choice, they are born that way.
  • One of the best ways to show someone who is in transition that you care is to to always use their preferred gender when using pronouns(he/she, her/him, etc). Try to do this even when that person is not present, to help others use the correct pronouns.


Additional resources that I highly recommend:




In closing, if after reading this you have any questions at all, I implore you to ask. I will be more than happy to address any questions you might have. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll look it up for you.


Thank you. 
Bradley
P.S. Attached is a recent photo of Jay.


Bradley has a loving family; they are good, kindhearted people. But education takes time. I am optimistic that they will eventually come around, and will wait patiently for the year when we can all be together at Christmas.