From text to reality

My boyfriend came out to me as a trans man.

Mysteries began to unravel and gaps were filled.  His strained relationship with parents, delicate features, and cracking voice were suddenly explained.  He was born with an enlarged clitoris and a functioning vagina, uterus, and ovaries.  He had a bilateral mastectomy and started hormone replacement therapy, exasperated after several years of his mother’s pressures to embrace femininity.  He’s currently looking to undergo a hysterectomy and phalloplasty.

I responded calmly and with a warmness that would have surprised the old me of several years, months, or even weeks ago.  I mentally paged through our readings—feeling incredibly lucky that I happened upon this class, closely read Fausto-Sterling and Colapino, and became an ally during high school. Possessing hundreds of pages of enlightenment from this class and a wide-open heart, I felt well equipped to support him through every step of the transition.

Several hours passed before I objectively evaluated the situation.  I was blinded by compassion—forgetting that our relationship had been deteriorating for a while now.   A new college environment had taken its toll on our relationship.  It bombarded me with opportunities and destabilized my comfortable position.  I didn’t and still don’t know what to do.  I wanted to make up for his traumatic childhood—to return the unconditional love he gave me.  But that would require me to give up my own wants and happiness.  I thought about David Reimer’s death wrought by Jane’s abandonment.  Gender Talk hit a sore spot.  With whichever decision I’d make, there’d be an incredible amount of guilt.  I am repeatedly told to do what will bring me long-term happiness.  But when another person’s depends on you for love, support, and existential value, painful tradeoffs are inevitable. What is the right choice?

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