StraightsTalk

The Legal Lesbian

Confusion seems to be the word of the year… or, make that the decade. The political scene is confusing to say the least. We have a democratic candidate who has never been a democrat, and a republican candidate vociferously bashing the republican party.

The cultural scene is confusing also. Every day people come out as gay or bi or trans. Or, in some cases, they refuse to identify with any gender. They identify as whatever they feel like at any given time. Our language hasn’t even had time to catch up yet. Using gendered pronouns (“he,” “she”) is frowned upon. Using “it” is decidedly insulting, and “they” is decidedly confusing. There’s that word again: “confusing.” Once upon a time “Ms” was a radical title and now it is considered passé at best and politically incorrect at worst. A new , non-gendered, title has come along: “Mx,” pronounced “mix”) but so far it hasn’t exactly caught on.

In spite of all this confusion, I was, until lately, still pretty sure of my own identity and preferences. I’m a straight woman who is attracted to males, exclusively. And I have no issue being, or being called “female.”

When my spouse transitioned to being a woman, it had no effect on my own preferences. As I explained at the time, I could not just change those preferences and become a lesbian. If I could have, perhaps our lives would have been easier. Yes, I still love my spouse, but no, I am not attracted any longer, and try as I might, this does not change. For some people attraction is “fluid,” but for me, it is quite “static.”

As part of transitioning, my spouse had a legal name change, to a woman’s name. I knew this was happening but I didn’t care much. It’s her choice. As her friend, I was happy for her to finally be able to be the person she knew she always was.

Then one day a small package arrived addressed to both of us. I opened it and discovered that my spouse had ordered new checks. And there on the check were both our names. Mine was the same, of course, but my spouse’s new, female, name stared back at me. For the first time I saw our names linked and realized that I was now effectively, married to a woman!

Was I now legally a “lesbian?”

Well, of course not. Nothing had changed. Not really. I don’t write out paper checks much anymore. But the first time I needed to, I hesitated. I considered who was receiving the check. I considered what they would think. I considered if I cared. And I did. I didn’t want to be considered a lesbian any more than a gay person wants to be thought of as straight, or a trans woman wants to be thought of as male.
And yet, as long as my spouse and I remain legally married, the checks must remain as they are.

And so I propose a new category to add to the rainbow: ”Legal Lesbian.”

Wear it proud!

What’s In A Name?

Being involved in a support group for the spouses of gay and trans individuals, I have heard dozens of stories about being married to a gay person without knowing it. In the case of gay men, I’ve heard many a spouse say that their husband said “he didn’t know he was gay.” In some cases, even after being found out, they still insist they are not “gay.”

It’s impossible to know where the truth is, especially second hand. But what puzzled me was how a man can claim not to be gay when he is having sex with other men and no longer having sex with his wife (or any other women for that matter). Some of the wives say they believe their spouse when he says he didn’t know he was gay. I guess we can quibble over the meaning of the word “know,” but I think men feel their attractions very early on. (And I believe there is a difference between males and females when it comes to this.)

A therapist once told me that the litmus test for knowing if you are a homosexual is who/what you fantasized about when you masturbated. Most males start masturbating when puberty starts. By the time they are dating, and marrying, even if they are virgins, they have been having sexual fantasies for many, many years. And, for gay men, those fantasies have been of men. I am pretty sure they know this about themselves. Most men know what turns them on…and what doesn’t.

If a man says he never considered himself “gay” even though he always fantasized about other men, I believe it. I believe it is possible that the word “gay” denotes a different kind of person than he is. Maybe he pictures drag queens marching in a parade, or effeminate men with lifted pinkies. He cannot relate to these men. But whatever the word “gay” means to him, he knows he gets off on other men. So, when a gay man marries a woman, it really doesn’t matter if he relates to the word “gay.” What matters is that he has withheld from his fiancée the vital fact that he is attracted to men. Call it what you will, his attraction to men is something he is required to tell his fiancé.

A person who knows that they are really the opposite sex from their physical body also owes it to their fiancé to tell them. They may not know there is a word for this feeling, (transsexual), but what they do know is that they have felt this their entire lives and they are completely sure of this feeling. If they present as male when they know they are really female (or vice versa) then they owe it to their fiancé to disclose this fact.

So when I hear gay or trans people say, as an excuse for why they deceived their spouse, that they didn’t know they were gay/trans, I have to wonder why they didn’t just tell their loved one what they felt. Because by the time we get married we know what we feel about sex and the people we are attracted to and our own gender.

Which leads to the question of what we should tell our potential mates. And do we have the right to withhold information because we think it won’t ever matter?

Should you tell your fiancé if…

you are a diabetic
you are a cancer survivor
you were ever raped or molested
you are a recovering alcoholic who has not had a drink in ten years
you have an auto-immune disease that is in remission
you were ever in a mental hospital
you are/are not a virgin
you fantasize about killing people
you cannot get aroused without being hit
you were once in jail

I would say absolutely yes to all of the above. What would you say?

Flood Of Support…

AFTER BRONX COUNCILMAN JAMES VACCA REVEALS ON TWITTER HE IS GAY

A straight spouse (Kristin Kalbli) wrote this op-ed piece in response to this NY Times Article. It is posted here with her permission.

“While it is undoubtedly a good thing for Councilman Vacca to be out of the closet, there is one often overlooked story here: that of the straight spouse. I know. I am one. My ex husband is gay (and now out, after 2 failed marriages).

Amid the congratulations and public support Mr. Vacca is already receiving, the collateral damage, his wife, will not get the spotlight, or public support. She receives no mention in this article; it is merely noted that councilman Vacca is “getting a divorce.” She’s not even a person in this story.

Hopefully, if this experience is as traumatic for her as I know it to be from personal experience, and from many others whose stories I share, she will receive lots of support, although that support will likely be privately and discretely shared away from the op-eds of the NYT.

I am a straight spouse. While many LGBT spouses handle the coming out process with as much integrity as possible, and deserve support and congratulations, many do not. Many spent years lying to straight spouses, covering up the truth, in ways large and small, so as not to be discovered, severely damaging their straight spouse’s sense of reality, sanity, and often, their sense of self in the process. Lying and denial on this scale, and in a relationship this intimate, takes enormous effort, and therefore the sense of betrayal is proportionally enormous. Especially if there were reasons for the straight spouse to suspect, and if confrontations were met with more denial and deception. It is crazy-making. You doubt everything: your sanity, your goodness as a person, even the very air in your home doesn’t seem to be made of oxygen.

And especially when the lack of physical intimacy in the marriage is laid at the straight spouse’s doorstep, as it often is to throw the sent off the trail. (That trail leads to a whole ‘nother world of trauma, self doubt and personal betrayal on the most intimate of human levels).

While the reasons for the gay spouse’s hiding and deception are complex and nuanced, and often understandable, they are NOT always noble. And sometimes, they are downright unconscionable. They just are. I promise you.

I am not making that claim of Councilman Vacca. I know none of the private details. However, we have to stop seeing only the side of the story that indiscriminately celebrates a gay spouse when he/she finally has the courage to come out. Before that, there was a husband or wife who may or may not have been traumatized, cruelly sexually rejected, gaslighted or used as a prop in a play of the gay spouse’s construction.

I promise you, it is beyond devastating to find out you, as a person, were merely a prop, a bit of set dressing, a trompe l’oeil, a “beard.” It is beyond enraging to learn, as we eventually do, that someone you loved and trusted felt your life could be sacrificed for their illusion, a mere currency they exchanged to buy and build a decoy life. That a choice was taken away from you each successive year you were kept in the dark and deceived.

Gay columnist and sex advice podcaster Dan Savage is famously unsympathetic to closeted people, stating about one closet case in one advice column: “He is being dishonest, and his chickenshit closet-case games require you to be dishonest, too.” This is what many straight spouses experience, only without their knowledge or permission.

This is not about demonizing closeted gay people. (Many straight spouses stay quiet about their pain and trauma precisely because we don’t want to hurt or offend our LGBT loved ones and friends, and we don’t want to seem “too angry,” or too unsympathetic to the gay spouse’s coming out journey).

This is an acknowledgment that wherever homophobia permeates a society, forcing people into a closet so deep and so dark that they themselves cannot bare to leave it, and will conscript unconsenting others to maintain it, no one, not even straight spouses, are left unscathed. There is real, and lasting trauma. Let us acknowledge it.”

Collateral Damage

Several years ago when I learned that an acquaintance of mine was divorcing her husband because he turned out to be gay, it never occurred to me how horrible this must have been for her. It turned out he had told her he was “bi” and that he loved her and was monogamous. How would she ever have known that he was really gay? When they were middle aged he came out and she was left alone with a poorly paying job. She was beyond furious. At the time I really didn’t “get it.” I recall thinking, “The man is gay! What should he do? Spend his whole life pretending he isn’t?” I understood how scared she felt about her future, but I didn’t understand her anger.

Looking back, I understand why I felt that way. Marriages end for all kinds of reasons, right? That’s the breaks.

If my acquaintance had told me her husband had cheated on her, I would have been entirely sympathetic. So why was I so unsympathetic about him being gay? Both of these would lead to the same result for her: deceit, pain, and divorce. And I sometimes get similar responses from people who learn of my situation. My spouse has to “express” his/her real self. Whatever the cost to me. Whatever the consequences. I should not blame him/her. But the truth is, I can and I do. And so do the spouses of other gay and trans individuals.

Yes, marriages do break up for all kinds of reasons. People change. People cheat. But in most cases there is a chance it can be worked out, no matter how remote. The two people involved could decide to put in the effort to heal the relationship. But when someone is gay or trans, no amount of effort by either spouse, will “heal” that. We all know better, don’t we, than to think someone can change their sexual orientation or gender identity. When someone comes out as gay or trans, (or is found out) we straight spouses call that “D-Day”: discovery day. In that moment the relationship comes to a sudden stop. Therapy often follows but “healing” will never involve the gay/trans spouse not being gay/trans. There is no hope. There is no path to a loving romantic/sexual relationship. There is only loss.

I’ve given quite a bit of thought to the difference between victims of spousal infidelity and the situation of straight spouses. I would never minimize anyone’s pain. Deceit is deceit. It is devastating. But straight spouses often feel like we are treated as “collateral damage:” that our hurt is “incidental” to something that had to happen. And if it was inevitable, why get so worked up over it? Get over it. Move on.

But I am not collateral damage. Nor are the thousands of future straight-spouses-to-be, who right now have no clue that their mate will “inevitably” be lost to them.

Loving The “Right” Way

When you love someone, is it possible to answer the question “Why do you love them?” Since we tend to believe that love just happens to us, that we can’t control who we fall in love with, it would seem we shouldn’t be able to actually define the “why.”  But often people can and do answer the question with something like: “Because I like the way s/he treats me.”

I’ve always been dubious about this answer.   It’s nice to be treated well by someone else.  But if that someone is a criminal?  If that person treats others poorly?  If that person treats themselves poorly?  If that person is an ignorant fool?

Are we really seeing the person we love?

I am the spouse of a trans gender person and we are separating after many years of marriage. Throughout this process the one question I never found myself asking was why my mate needed to “come out.” I have felt betrayed, lost, scared, angry, alone, lonely, and confused, but never for a moment doubtful that s/he needed to do this. I ask myself why.  And I know the answer:

because I feel this way about myself: it’s not enough to be loved. I want to be loved for the “right” reasons. I want to be loved for who I am, not in spite of it.  Not for a fake persona I have adopted.   When we are loved for the wrong reasons it doesn’t feel quite right. If someone “loves” me because I am good to them, it implies that love will disappear if I am not always good to them. 

I’ve always found it interesting that the word “respect” comes from the Latin : respectus, which is a verb that means to look back at, to regard. To respect someone means to see them: not to see how they treat us.   And I want to be seen. Being seen for who we are and being loved for it is one of life’s rare gifts.

“Late Fragment”   by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Bruce Jenner & Me & a Grey Flannel Vest

 

Last year when Bruce Jenner’s image was splashed all over every visual medium,  I was in the middle of my own experience with my spouse, who was also transitioning.  The Kardashian show was not something I ever watched.  To be honest, I always felt like they could never keep up with me  When Bruce came out I was initially confused.  Was it possible that this inane show about some pretty rich girls was created while no one knew where the real story was?  Apparently, yes.  Was it possible that it was a coincidence?  Again, apparently, yes.  Real life often is more amazing than “reality” TV.

I don’t watch much “entertainment TV” or read “People,” etc. except when I am in a doctor’s office or getting a pedicure. And I was too overwhelmed with my own life to pay much attention.  But it was impossible not to be aware that something was going on with Bruce Jenner.  When I did pay attention I thought it was all mean rumor.  A former Olympic athlete who dresses less than macho being made fun of.  What else is new?  I have to say I was very surprised when it tuned out that he really was trans.  And he really was transitioning.  In front of the whole world.

Needless to say, my spouse was not public about what he was feeling and doing. Even I had to guess.  How Jenner had the guts to do this at all amazes me.  I don’t buy the idea that he did for the publicity. The fact is that he is a celeb and the publicity was sure to happen.  The only way he could have avoided the publicity was not to do it at all.  (Was that really an option?  See below.) I don’t buy the idea that he did it for the money, either.  As far as I know, he had/has plenty.

When Bruce finally appeared on the cover of “Vanity Fair,” I heard all kinds of downright stupid comments:

1  “So he just woke up one morning and decided he wanted to be a woman. What bullshit.”

This was said by someone with a gay sibling. When I asked him if he thought his brother “just woke up one morning” and decided to be gay, he said no.  Well, at least he got that far.  But for some reason this was entirely different.  Why?  He couldn’t say.

I’m no expert on transsexuality but I know that identity is not something that forms “overnight!” I did not wake up “one morning” and decide I was a woman.  I started out as a girl.  I felt like a girl. I hit puberty and eventually felt like a woman.  Like Jenner, my spouse did not wake up one morning and decide he wanted to be woman.  My spouse work up every morning figuring out how not to be a woman.   Do I wish I had known my spouse felt like this before I married him?  You bet.  But that’s another issue, entirely.

2  “So now everyone can just say they are whatever they want to be! What if I say I am a dog!”

At first I didn’t think this even deserved a response. But it was said with so much rancor that it made me wonder why this person had such a strong reaction.  A person who thinks they are a dog is mentally ill.  Ditto if they think they are Napoleon or Jesus Christ.  But then I wondered, what is the difference?

Again, it points to the idea of “identity.” And again, I’m no expert.  Here is how I think about it: a human being at a very young age (three or five or seven) might say, often adamantly, that  they are a girl or boy even if they are biologically not.  They are not looking for publicity or attention or money.  They are just being themselves.  They might play act being a dog but they don’t really believe it.  (My own son dressed as a cat, on and off, until he was four.  He wore a leotard with a black sock pinned to his butt and whiskers painted on his face.  But he knew he was a human being. )

My spouse knew at a very young age that he was “different.” Unfortunately back then there was nothing/no one he could compare himself to.  No language to describe what he felt.  And no one he could tell.  There was only confusion, shame, and secrecy.

I still don’t understand why the person who said this felt so strongly. Did they feel threatened?  Was their sense of their own reality at stake?

3  “Jenner didn’t have to do this. Doesn’t he realize how ridiculous he looks?”

I cannot answer for why Jenner felt s/he “had” to do this. I don’t share those feelings.  But I have a spouse who does share those feelings. And I have read and heard enough stories of others who also share those feelings.  No, no one has to transition.  Not like they have to eat and breathe.  But for those of us who are not trans, let me offer a comparison: a black person who can pass as white and doesn’t.   If you ask them why they choose to be who they really are, what do you think their answer would be?

A silly comparison, but one I experienced:

When I “transitioned” my career many years ago from writer to programmer, I felt very much an outsider. I was a “humanities” person in a technical position.  I was a female in a very male profession.  And, I was a working class “schlep” who counted her pennies.  I got a gig at a white-shoe law firm and was associating with people very different from me.  All gentile.  All ivy league.  I went out and bought grey flannel slacks, a white tailored shirt, and a blazer. I wanted to appear more “professional” and even a little masculine. (My black spandex mini skirt was not appropriate.)   I even jokingly called myself “Chip” to create a fictional  (male) persona who would not be intimidated. (Hey, I’m a writer!)

Over time, as I became more comfortable with this new world, these new people, I was able to be more myself: a female New York Jew who talked too much and found most things comical.  And soon enough people accepted me as such.  Whew.  What a relief. (I still  did not wear the spandex mini skirt, in case you were wondering.)

What I neglected to mention, because it’s embarrassing looking back, is that I also bought a grey flannel vest to match those grey flannel pants. Thankfully I had the good sense never to wear it.  I realized it was a little “too much.”  But it cost a small fortune and so I kept it.  A few years ago I almost tossed it, but decided not to.  Instead, I stitched a patch of a silly cartoon character on it and wore it.  I was able to throw away that fictional self because it had served its purpose.  I could look back and smile.

Now imagine you have thrown away your real self your entire life.  You’re past sixty years old.  It’s now or never.

As for whether Jenner realized he looked “ridiculous,” well, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps I looked ridiculous in my grey flannel slacks and crisp white shirt.  (And how much more ridiculous if I had actually worn that vest!)

Male-ness & Female-ness & Trans-ness

In therapy with my trans spouse all kinds of questions arose that were so fundamental they were almost impossible to answer.

For example: “If sex is not a big part of your lives anymore what’s the difference what gender your spouse is?” I found myself at a loss for words.  All I could do was point out to the therapist, who was gay, that I was pretty sure if he and his partner weren’t having sex for whatever reason, he would not welcome his partner turning into a female any more than I did!  He would still want to live with a male!  He got it.  I also had to explain that the possibility of sex had now disappeared because I could not imagine making love with a woman.

And then he asked me, “Would you consider having your sexual needs met outside the relationship?” to which I just laughed.    I didn’t know one woman among my many women friends who would consider an arrangement like this.  Why not?  Because at our age sex has become less important, in general.  Because this thing called “intimacy” is equally or even more important to many of us than sex. Because we don’t want to be married to a female, period. And yet, I could understand how a gay male might consider that a viable option.

I wasn’t being asked to defend myself but it felt like that at times and it didn’t feel fair to me. Why should I have to explain/defend  my way of wanting a man, any more than my mate should have to defend him/her self for what s/he felt and wanted. Once we started deconstructing the relationship it became increasingly ridiculous.  And frustrating; because I am a writer and writers can always find the right words.  In this case, it all seemed ineffable.  I can only describe what it all feels like.

When I was a teenager I wrote the question in my journal, “What is the difference between being female and being feminine?” This came after a male friend said to me, “Your problem is that you aren’t a girl, you’re a person.” At sixteen I was devastated.  I wanted to be “a girl.”  I didn’t fantasize about marriage, weddings, dresses, cakes, or honeymoons. If Kleinfeld existed, it existed in another universe (called Manhattan).  What I did fantasize about was having a boyfriend.

It was “intimacy” that intrigued me the most.  I wasn’t sure what intimacy meant, but it wasn’t sexual intimacy.  (That came much, much later.)   So why did the intimacy fantasy always involve a male, considering I didn’t have a sex drive?  I couldn’t tell you.  Just the same I had crushes on males and wanted one of my own.  (Maybe that is the definition of a “sex drive” at that age.  Who knows?)  I mean, before I had a sex drive I had a drive towards males.  At age nine I had a raging crush on Napoleon Solo from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” for example.

So what does it mean to want to be in a relationship with a male if it is not about sex?  And isn’t this really the same question the therapist had asked?

I can’t verbalize why someone who looks like one gender but “appears” like the other gender is so mind bending. I can only say I believe our sexuality and gender are very deeply experienced.  They inform almost every aspect of our being.  Several dozen human languages even have gendered nouns.  (And the same noun may not have the same gender in different languages!)

Who is this person I loved and married and lived with for thirty years? Can the body change and not the personality?  Could I get used to looking at this new physical individual without feeling sadness and loss for the male person I was attracted to?  Would I ever again want to touch and be touched by this person? I knew my husband didn’t exactly look like Napoleon Solo when we met and married, but he sure as hell didn’t look like Agent 99 (“Get Smart”) either! 

You probably haven’t heard the term “secondary sex characteristics” since high school hygiene, or sex ed. But the truth is, they are very important when it comes to attraction.  I can remember many years ago walking past a shop on Madison Avenue in New York City that sold shaving paraphernalia.  The door was open and I got a whiff of after shave.  It stopped me dead.  I lingered.  Looked in the window at all the male “stuff,”  and realized that this was a little bit of a turn on.  But why?   Because it was a very masculine environment and I could feel it.  I know straight men who say that a very feminine environment can turn them on as well.  Any hint of the opposite sex can trigger this.

Of course, after-shave, the scent of a cigar, and traditional male clothing are not secondary sex characteristics. I mention them to make the point that it is not only the naked body, the genitals, that attract us to the opposite sex.  Secondary sex characteristics like facial/body hair, muscles, voice are important. In my case my mate was developing female secondary sex characteristics.   And it points to the answer to the question of why I want to live with a man whether we have sex or not: having “maleness” in my life makes me feel good. No explanations or apologizes are offered here.  It is not about political correctness. And it is no more or less acceptable or ridiculous than a biological male wanting to be, or considering themselves to be female.

“Coming Out” as Straight

It’s not trendy right now to be straight.  Nor should it be.  Being straight or gay, trans or cis, should not be a matter of trend setting.  But in the last year or so being gay (and trans in particular) has become so.  It’s ridiculous.

Sexual orientation and sexual identity are just part and parcel of who we are.  I am no more  “proud” to be straight  than I am of having curly hair.  I was born that way.  It’s what I do with what I was born with that makes me feel proud  (or not).  On that note, I believe that most straight spouses of gay/trans people are behaving as best we can considering  our circumstances.  And here’s why:

1. Our mates deceived us about their sexuality/identity.  Often intentionally.
2. Our (gay) mates were never sexually attracted to us and so we were doubly deceived.
3. We love(ed) them and must somehow figure out how to stop loving them, or to love them differently, at the same time that we may hate and resent them.
4. Once they come out, our mates are often mean, adversarial, and unsympathetic to us.
5. We have to unexpectedly rebuild our lives (sometimes late in life) often leading to loneliness and financial straits.
6. The current cultural climate applauds our mates for “being true” to themselves but we are often ignored, mocked (for not knowing), and even criticized for not being more supportive.

So, for the straight spouses of gay and trans mates, “coming out” means being able to be true to ourselves:
1. It means feeling free to express our pain, our shock, our loss.
2. It means feeling free to be critical of our mates  and demanding their consideration even though they are (still) part of a minority who have been oppressed, and are still fighting for their rights.
3. It means insisting that our families, friends, and colleagues understand that when a society oppresses one group of people,  those people are not the only people effected.
4. It means we need to accept our own feelings and not to be critical of ourselves for not cheering on our mates as they come out.

They have their struggle.  We have ours.  It’s hard to read that.  It’s hard to live it.  But we have no choice.

We didn’t sign up for this.  We’re doing the best we can.

I’m Not Allowed To Love Him Anymore

“The hardest thing about this is that I’m not allowed to love him anymore.”

These are the words of a woman married forty years to a gay man.  She had no idea. She found out he was gay at the same time she found out that he is having, and has had, affairs with men. The hurts are many. She enumerates them:

•  So he never really loved me…not like I loved him.
•  Every time we made love he was thinking of a man.
•  How could he have lived with me all these years and lied to me like that?
• Why didn’t he tell me the truth when we were younger so I could have found someone new?   Now I’m an old woman.
• I always felt so unattractive and inadequate because he never seemed to want to touch me.
• Some of my friends think I should be “understanding” and try to remain friends with him.
• Someone  accused me of being homophobic.
• He is acting like a petulant child and can’t seem to see what this is doing to me.
• And worst of all, I still love him and don’t know how to stop.  It’s so painful and counterproductive to feel like this but it’s not like a faucet I can just turn off.  I feel like such a fool for feeling like this.

If I could be fooled like this, maybe nothing in my life is what I think it is.  Sometimes I think I am having a breakdown.

When straight spouses of gay or trans partners find out the truth, whether their partner tells them, or they find out, reality itself starts to feel “unreal.” This is something that isn’t talked about as much as all the other, more immediate and painful concerns (where to live, how to separate, what/when to tell the kids). But when the dust settles, many straight spouses find themselves anxious and insecure in many aspects of their lives.

Any time we are deceived by someone close to us, especially someone we love and share a life with, we can’t help but question ourselves. “Was I blind?” “Did I not see it because I didn’t want to?”  Spouses of mates who cheat ask these questions also.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ask the questions. Being honest with ourselves is important.  But blaming ourselves is another story.  I’ve said it before, “When someone is determined to deceive us, we will be deceived.”  It’s important to repeat this and know where the blame/responsibility is.

Do we need to be smarter and more aware going forward?  Yes, we do.  We need to accept that people are not perfect.  They do things that can hurt us whether they intend to or not.  It’s our responsibility to have the courage to ask the difficult questions when we suspect something isn’t right (in any relationship) and not shrink from the truth no matter how painful we suspect it might be.

It’s our responsibility to own our lives and hearts and to safeguard them.

We need to remain open, but not the way a wound is open.

“Transparent TV Show” : Transparently Ridiculous

 

I’m just going to state it right up top: the show is just a lurid excuse to show a man in drag and attractive young people  naked.

If the main character weren’t wearing a dress, we wouldn’t bother watching him/her at all.

Not to mention that “drama” (or in this case “dramedy”)  usually means something is actually at stake for the character. Oh sure, Moira’s psychological well being is “at stake,” I guess. But let’s see. What else might be at stake for a man who comes out at trans?

1. Maybe he will lose his love relationship with his spouse/mate?
Oh, that’s right. He has no mate.

2. Maybe he will lose the right to see his kids?
Oh, that’s right, his kids are all grown up.

3. Maybe he will lose his job and end up impoverished?
Oh, that’s right, he’s already retired and has plenty of dough.

I’m not even complaining about the lack of likable characters. We’re all sophisticated consumers of story now and we’re used to modern anti-heroes who are unlikable but are compelling. The problem is that the protagonist is not compelling. Not when s/he is Mort, not when s/he is Moira.  Nor are the kids. Nor is the ex wife.  If any of these folks could hold my interest maybe I would keep watching.  But as far as I am concerned, the most interesting thing about all of them is that their ex or their parent, is trans.  And that just isn’t enough.

The first rule of story telling, across all genres, is to be interesting.

Putting a man in a dress is not, in and of itself, compelling or entertaining. It’s a cheap shot. And it’s as old as…. Uncle Miltie.

Jill Soloway’s man in a dress is just that and only that : a man in a dress.
A lame excuse to create a TV show. Which is why they had to have pretty young things having sex and staring at themselves naked.

After episode two I turned it off.

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