Unwrapping the Onion: Comments

I have always published pretty much every comment. Seriously, the only ones I have ever deleted were the “Hi, you should come check out the lawn mowers we have for sale” type of comment, the ones that are completely unrelated to the material in the post. The other exception was commenters who were name-calling and/or swearing at other commenters. I don’t always respond to comments, particularly when it’s a controversial issue, but I have always published them.

I have a very diverse group of readers, and I expected that I would get diverse responses to this series. This is a topic that doesn’t get discussed that much in every day conversation, and most people don’t even know that much about it. I have many religious friends and readers through this blog, and I understand that many of those religions are not affirming of LGBTQ people. Even then, my assumption was that people would be able to express their concerns with charity and mutual respect, something I believe every person is capable of regardless of their religion or non-religion.

This has not proven to be the case. There is a loud anonymous(s) commenter(s) who has been very aggressive and abrasive, and I want to apologize to anyone who has been hurt or triggered by this person’s vitriolic commentary.

I want this to be a safe place for open and honest discussion, concerns and disagreement are always allowed, and have always been allowed. Honestly, no post I have written in the past has received such a massive amount of nasty comments before, my commenters have almost always been able to keep it together and respect each other’s differences.

I am going to urge all my commenters, particularly the more abusive ones (you know who you are) to keep it classy or I will start to exercise my right as blog administrator and delete any comments that make sweeping generalizations, personal attacks, or hate speech. I understand that people have strong feelings, but I think that everyone can choose their wording in a way that can be productive rather than incendiary.

To the rest of my readers, thank you for reading and for keeping your comments clean and respectful. To any new readers who have arrived because of this series, welcome. Many of you have identified yourselves as LGBTQ and I haven’t had too many Queer readers to my knowledge before this series, so it is nice to “meet” all of you. And I hope that my comment policy up until now hasn’t been too exhausting for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    I can only speak for myself, but I was actually more worried for you and your spouse, for having your parenting and love for each other questioned, than my own reactions. Hopefully you don't feel hurt yourself by these crude commenters.

    I would like to thank you for keeping as many comments as possible intact, even the critical ones. I find myself educated by the reasonable, tolerant people who rise up against the ignorant in many subjects, and this is no exception.

    As to your welcome, thank you very much. I'm adding you to my regular reads, and will continue to follow after this series is finished. You're a compelling writer, and your work interests me beyond the parts that I personally identify with. Keep it up!

  • Aubergine

    You're a good egg, Melissa.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02224561280478383821 Nancy

    I am a happily married heterosexual woman. I think it's important for you to know that there are many of us who whole-heartedly love and support you and all other LGBTQ folks. We are all in this world together. Let's fill it with love and acceptance. I especially identify with your writings/questions concerning religion, but truly enjoy everything you write. THANK-YOU for sharing your gift with us!

  • http://madam-eglentyne.tumblr.com/ Clytia

    Hi Melissa,
    I've been reading your blog for a fair while now, and have always found it very interesting, but this series in particular is fascinating. I am queer (bi), but have not been at all affected by the comments, since I tend to read blogs exclusively in my RSS Feed Reader, and not read comments (not add to them) unless I really feel the need.
    I just wanted to say thanks, I'm really enjoying reading your blog.

  • Nerdiah

    Is there any chance of you reconsidering that comment-moderation decision? It's your space and your call of course, but I think it's useful for us to be confronted with the "true face" of certain ideologies, to hold no illusions about where certain ideas can lead.

    You mentioned in a previous post (25 Aug 11) a Christian who admitted that they thought homosexuals were sick disgusting perverts, though they'd never say it to one's face. In that story they were looking for advice on how to disagree with them without letting their true colours show. So how do you know that those who are politely disagreeing aren't the same, just using pretty theological arguments to cover up their true feelings? Is it even possible to believe that it's an "abomination" without having some strong feelings about that?

    You want it to be a safe place for open and honest discussion, but limiting comments only to those who are smart enough to hide their ignorance and bigotry isn't going to achieve that. It won't be honest, and it won't be safe either, because the deadliest enemy is the one you think is your friend.

    At least if someone calls you a filthy #4&&0+ you know where you stand :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I also love to get critical comments and hear the responses from other perspectives. But screaming "BOOBS! VAGINA! MUTILATION!!!!!" is where I'm going to draw the line. Lol

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    If it's any consolation, Melissa, I am fairly sure that all the Anonymous nasty commenters falling all over themselves to agree with one another are actually just one person and her sock puppets. The styles are just a little too similar, and all the invocations of natural law were sloppy. :-P As I've been reading over this thread tonight, I've been thinking you have the patience of an angel to indulge her without warning for this long!

    Personally, I think that when somebody spends what has clearly been all evening in front of the computer, bullying you and flaming everyone who supports you, they're clearly not looking to have a discussion. They're using somebody else's blog as a platform for their hate. So brave.

    I hope that, despite this ugliness, you feel good about your decision to share this beautiful, personal story with your readers, which I'm sure was not made hastily. I want to re-iterate how much I admire your courage and introspection and how much it cheers me to think that, for all of the oppressive and abusive situations so many kids are trapped in in this world, there are still some being nurtured in homes such as yours. Your children are very lucky to have such parents and they will be a force of good in this world. Of this, I am sure. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Nerdiah- I agree, calling someone an abomination in a "nice" way, isn't any better. I publish pretty much everything, including comments that say stuff like "you are a disgusting person who is being controlled by satan". I will have a pretty lenient approach to moderation, and I hope to publish pretty much every comment even now. Believe me, I was not expecting this to be a safe place to be vulnerable, I am just putting our story out there and I have not been replying to disrespectful comments. I feel this particular commenter has had more than their share of the soapbox, because the comments were getting repetetive, increasingly angry and hostile. I hope they can tone it down a notch and continue the discussion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06233321050691782148 Michael Mock

    I'd like to politely disagree with Nerdiah – there's a point at which the comments, while possibly still revealing, are no longer productive. So while I'm in favor of lenient moderation, I do think that some moderation is critical to any sort of constructive discourse… not to mention your emotional sanity.

  • Nerdiah

    Yes, I see your point about not wanting the comment thread degenerating into a pointless flame-war, looking at it now, that person was totally hogging the thread. Kudos too to the others for taking that person with humour; for all the awfulness of what they were saying, I laughed a few times reading that thread.

    So I guess, in sum, you're doing great :-) No small achievement I think given the nature of the topic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13136739606859501801 Dave

    I think Melissa is totally right to start moderating a bit – the commenter has strayed way into troll territory, and I think most blog owners/moderators would start exercising some control at that point – it is only fair to the the people who play by the rules. The other thing for the rest of us is not to respond to the troll – nothing they love more than reactions to their comments – it's just like feeding a stray cat, once you do you'll never get rid of it :)

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Another bi reader here ^^ although in an heterosexual relationship.
    Simply, thanks for being awesome and it's great you are not taking the nasty comments to heart =)

  • Anonymous

    So, I think the internet ate my comment. That said, I think it can be boiled down to:

    1. does your spouse desire intimate attention from men, or from women? I only ask because so much of my "femininity" is connected to being desired by men, having relationships with men, etc (since I'm married, with my husband, but if he died or we divorced, I would seek out relationships with men). Since your spouse seems to identify as a woman, does your spouse desire relationships with men, or with women? And how do you negotiate all of that? (I ask as a woman who grew up in the homeschool movement…I've envied male privilege, but never male anatomy, so transexualism is a new world for me). I know you've said that you're ok with romantic/sexual relationships with women, but how does your spouse feel? Does she desire romantic relationships with men?

    2. I think you and your spouse are incredibly brave, and I wish you all the best. My questions above are not because of a judgmental attitude; rather, I really don't comprehend how a romantic/sexual relationship can exist when one partner changes genders. It's really (sort of) beyond my comprehension…and, again, I wish you nothing but the best; i just want to know/understand how a marriage/intimate relationship can survive such a shift.

    Anyway, thank you for writing, and again, I wish your family all the best.

    (oh, and I'm just anonymous because I'm freaked out about internet security at the moment…I'm not the same anonymous that's been harassing you)

    Lots of love to you and your family

  • http://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/ limey

    Hi Melissa,

    I've been a silent reader of your blog for a short while and your current series has gripped me.

    On a personal level, I don't identify with any of the issues you have faced, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate your honesty and admire how you and your husband have coped so far. Maybe I could even learn something from that.

    I think you have got the comment moderation level right. There is no need to let the insults through. If someone wants to make their point, they should do it in a reasoned and considered manner.

    I shall continue to read and I wish you well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    "Anonymous" may be sock puppets, but I have noticed that there is a bag of about 50 lines that the religious right uses and reuses and reuses when it comes to attacking homosexuality.

    When I was a teenager I had lots of opinions, and voiced them loudly, except none of those opinions were my own; I just parroted what my parents and others had said about any topic.

    It took me a while to understand how truly diverse and complex people are. And even longer for my opinions about the world to become complex and nuanced.

    The Actress Dot-Marie Jones is a wonderful and compassionate butch woman who is a body builder and arm wrestling champion. If you barred women (as in, anyone without a penis) from body building or arm wrestling that would not make her MORE "traditionally" feminine, it would mean she wouldn't be able to do things she loved and was good at. If she had been raised in a Quiverfull family like Melissa's, where gender ROLES were strictly enforced it wouldn't MAKE her feminine because she is who she is. Like Melissa's sister, it would only cause deep heartache and probably emotional abuse as her parents tried to force her into a box she didn't belong.

    There is a logical fallacy called the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, which is basically an overt attempt to retain an untrue assertion.

    It goes like this
    Person A: All Scotsmen like haggis!
    Person B: My uncle is a Scotsmen and he hates haggis.
    Person A: Well all TRUE Scotsmen like haggis!

    I live in Scotland, I know a few people who hate haggis and to say that makes them "less" Scottish is just ridiculous. Of course they are Scottish.

    It is much worse when you are talking about people being "less than" because they don't fit a simple generalization.

    Person A: All men are protectors and providers
    Person B: Well my uncle is really more of a nurturer
    Person A: All TRUE men are protectors and providers.

    But there are lots of people who really do think that being a nurturer instead of a protector makes a man LESS of a man, or not a TRUE man. And these untrue assertions cause deep emotional pain.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13978540582978450208 Charlotte

    If she doesn't want things questioned, she shouldn't make this story public.

    And I never once cried BOOBS! Mutilation! Vaginas! Quote me where I said that, please!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13978540582978450208 Charlotte

    I'm sorry, I should have been more direct, I have writing here as Kittengirl and I see there is another anonymous or two here and they aren't me, I just want to make sure you see there is a difference, as I have been signing my name with a nickname, but am coming clean here about who I am, since it seems that's a big deal to some. I have not been leaving comments without signing Kittengirl and I don't think my comments have been "vitriolic" and I haven't been yelling "boobs!" as you say.

    Still, I feel you are treading in dangerous water and I'm not afraid to say it.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    As others have mentioned, I read blogs in an RSS reader and only see the comments when and if I decide to comment myself. I can't say I'm surprised this particular series has brought out vitriol and inappropriate comments. Saddened, but not surprised.

    I always view any blog as something similar to the bloggers own space. I've never believed anyone should have to explain why the do or don't choose to allow comments. Nobody owes a commenter the space to express themselves.

    Good luck. Though I haven't really had anything to contribute, it's been a brave and intriguing series so far.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15454965172669677301 Bethany

    The fact that you publish those comments at ALL makes you a much braver woman than I. :) Actually, having had extensive and personal experience with fundamentalists and knowing the kind of controversy you're likely to draw, I'm amazed at how many positive and affirming comments you've gotten with this series!

  • Allison

    Is it really fair to call this an open forum? There are three opinions that are clearly being taught here.
    A. Being Transgender is normal and healthy
    B. The right way to treat gender dyshporia is to transition
    C. Transition can only affect the kids positively
    Anyone who has varied from any one of these three opinions has been shot down pretty harshly and rapidly (although not by you Melissa, more by other commenters). As soon as anyone hints at disagreeing with any of these three points their opinions are dismissed as ignorance and/or bigotry. There are actually many educated, well researched people who either disagree with you or have not reached conclusive opinions, including many NON religious people. One dissenting commenter here was compared to the Spanish inquisition. When another person expressed support, but hinted that they might believe living a transgender lifestyle is wrong, the blasting party was moved over to Libby Anne’s blog. Even now Libby Anne is encouraging “venting” (aka blasting” on her blog. I would not call this a safe place to disagree with any of points A, B, and C.

  • Anonymous

    Kelseigh, Melissa's archive is an amazing story, too. I'm going to have to go back and reread now I know what else was going on in your life.

    Melissa, I'm absolutely going to buy your book.

    Sarah

  • Anonymous

    Melissa – I have been following your blog through a blog reader, so I have not seen the comments. I want to say thank you for your vulnerability, on this and so many other issues. As a recovering evangelical I find comfort knowing that someone else is out there asking and searching just as I am. Peace be with you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03519675898483081005 Mrs. Searching

    You're doing the right thing.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org Becca

    I've been on the Internet more than 20 years, and I'm actually astonished by the balance of positive rational comments vs. hateful ranting on this series! I thought you must have been moderating heavily from the beginning! Wow.

    But I wouldn't blame you for blocking some of the comments like you have received recently. Let those views be represented a bit, sure, but you don't have to post every word now that they're repeating the same points over and over.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I don't believe I have ever called this an open forum. My blog is not a chat board or public soapbox, it is a place where I have sharaed my journey for some time and am now sharing a bit more of it. I have come from a place of strong disagree ment with all of these questions, to where I am at now. I am not claiming to be an expert, or have all the answers, I don't know or care what other commenters or bloggers are saying. I am telling my story. If hearing my story disturbs you so much, you are not obligated to read it. If you disagree or are not sure how you feel, you are free to leave a comment, just as people who have decided how they feel are also free to leave a comment or reply to yours.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Charlotte- As most of the "questioning" commenters were anonymous, I have no way of know who exactly was over-using caps and ranting about body parts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I've tried to explain about our marriage as I've written the series, so you can re-read to catch what you may have missed. And no, being transgender does not mean you are heterosexual and desire to be sexually active with the opposite sex, please check out part 4.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Charlotte, I may not reply to all comments, but I do read each one. Like I said I do not really moderate (I've deleted one comment so far) so the people who disagree with you will be published too. Since there have been many anonymous comments, I can not be sure who exactly was saying what.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    I don't really agree with you on this particular subject but I have been captivated by your story and impressed by your love for your spouse, and his for you. It's a great example of what marriage is about. :) But I don't understand why people have to be so rude even when they disagree somewhat.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    I don't really agree with you on this particular subject but I have been captivated by your story and impressed by your love for your spouse, and his for you. It's a great example of what marriage is about. :) But I don't understand why people have to be so rude even when they disagree somewhat.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    You seem awfully defensive there, Charlotte.

    I don't see where Melissa asks not to be questioned, but she definitely doesn't want to be abused. Although there are people who will mask the latter term by claiming the former, are you perhaps feeling a bit guilty on that score?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    Trans people generally have the same sort of variation of sexuality that anyone else does. They can be gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, etc. Who you want to date is considerably less important than who you want to be.

    In my own case, sexuality really had nothing at all to do with my desire for transition. It was all about feeling comfortable in my own skin, and how I fit into the world.

    Not that the effect of transition on your personal relationships isn't a concern, but that's an effect, not a cause.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    As a friend of Melissa, I've been posting about her series on my blog. When some commenters said they were annoyed by some of the comments on Melissa's blog, I said they could feel free to vent on my blog. I do not consider venting the same thing as "blasting" and I haven't seen anything of the sort either here or on my blog. But like Melissa said, our blogs are our spaces, not open forums.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    I think one reason for the "shooting down" you refer to is that many on the pro side have brought forward the results of research, studies, personal accounts of themselves and friends/family. Meanwhile, the "critical" side has largely brought invective, accusations of poor parenting choices and vague notions such as "natural law" being put forward as concrete rules. There's a big disparity, one which those of us who are trans* or have friends or loved ones who are have seen many, MANY times, usually from people who are genuinely ignorant and simply want us pushed back to the margins so they don't have to think about us.

    As Melissa pointed out in previous posts, the reality of our lives frequently does not match the caricatures put forward by many of the "critical", many of whom deny us our very identities, so you can perhaps understand the tendency to push back against such opinions.

  • Aubergine

    Anonymous, those are actually good questions. I've always been interested in women, and my wife has always been interested in men. As I was transitioning, then, we had a lot to think and worry about with respect to our relationship. What worked for us was that we talked A LOT about how we were doing and what we were thinking. I listened to my wife's needs and desires, and did my darnedest to satisfy them. In turn, my wife did a lot of thinking about what was really bugging her about it, so that she could explain it to me.

    So, in time we came to a balance where we could both be content and relax, and start to grow our love again. Communication is one of the big keys to surviving in a marriage.

    The other part of course is simple attraction. My wife, fortunately, still likes the way I look, and for my part I'm not very feminine by nature. So, things worked out for us.

  • Sal Bro

    Allison: "Dismissing" dissenting opinions in no way prevents those opinions from being expressed. Melissa says above that she has not been deleting posts. The only harm that comes from posting unpopular comments here is damage to your ego, which isn't really harm at all. So to claim that this is not a "safe" place for you is untrue.

    Actually, it's more than untrue–it belies the huge blind spot you have for actual concerns of safety. Trans women and their families have very real reasons to worry about safe places. You complain about your comment being "shot down"–i.e., disagreed with–on an internet blog. Trans women are literally shot down every day. Do you understand the difference? Do you see why it is uncharitable to complain about being given a platform for disagreement in someone else's personal space, when that person has risked a lot of actual safety by sharing her story?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Can we add an 'S' to LGBTQ? I'm straight and really feel like I belong in the community of human beings. Can I have in?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02614822971755761394 Rebecca

    You could also post an abbreviated comments policy on the side of your blog so that everyone can always see it. I have one on my blog: http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    It's actually posted under the page "Blog Facts".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Absolutely! It really is just that, the community of human beings. :) Just so you know, many people include the letter "A" for Affirming, to include friends and allies of LGBTQ persons in the community of people who are safe to be open with.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Sure. But that still doesn't capture the essence of simply belonging. I want the 'S' and THEN the 'A'. Then we can all be affirmed.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    Don't you think the acronym is getting a little long already? :-P

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    Given that straights run the whole world and are the beneficiaries of a enormous amount of privilege compared to those under the LGBTQ umbrella, I can see how there'd be some resistance to adding "S" to the acronym. Given that the members of that group have traditionally been marginalized by the enormous "S" group, there'd by nature be some feeling of an attempt to co-opt their identity.

    My personal preference, when straights are added, phrases it "and allies". Because let's face it, not all "S" are on our side, by a long shot.

  • Anna

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this latest series of yours. Issues of LGBTQIA are rarely discussed in Christian circles, and I must admit I cried when you mentioned your own realization of being bisexual. I am recently realizing that I am bisexual, and I'm not sure what that means for me as a Christian. Anyways, no matter what comments you get, remember that your story needs to be told and that you are impacting people positively. :)
    Best wishes for you and your spouse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Yep. We could shorten it up and just right it like this: PEEPS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    I understand, Kelseigh. Well said. I'm speaking from an idealistic point of view – one that will be a reality in due time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01858152577717538284 Alexandra

    I've always heard LGBTQA with A for Ally.

    My freshman roommate and I volunteered to live in the on campus "Rainbow House" dorm building because so many of the students who had been randomly assigned to it were horrified at the idea. I really appreciated the existence of the A! It made me feel welcome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Come to think of it, I think the "A" can also stand for "Asexual", another sexual orientation that can be misunderstood.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15824217102632813598 Tanit-Isis

    This series is amazing, and I'm so sorry (although not surprised) that you've received so much crap in the comments.

    My father concealed his homosexuality from everyone—including his wife—for almost sixty years of his life, and in the process built a wall between himself and the world that I don't know if we'll ever succeed in tearing down. For those who have questioned the "effect on the children"—I promise, I would much rather have had a gay father (even if it meant the end of my parents' marriage, ridicule at school, or anything else) who could play with us and paint our toenails, than the distant, emotionally unavailable workaholic my father was (and who it sounds like Melissa's spouse could have become). The closet hurts everyone, and that's as true for transgender situations as for closeted homosexuals.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    I've heard the idea of turning it into QUILTBAG because it's too long to remember otherwise.

    Q – Queer or Questioning
    U – Undecided
    I – Intersex
    L – Lesbian
    T – Transgender
    B – Bisexual
    A – Allies or Asexual
    G – Gay

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    So, if I'm part of a Quilt Bag, I want to be the crochet pins. Irritating peeps is my specialty.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    And then you've got the added wrinkle that some transsexuals (the loony Harry Benjamin Syndrome crowd as well as a number of actually reasonable TSes) don't like the term "transgender" because it conflates things like crossdressing and drag queens with a medical condition. Equally, you've got radfem lesbians who don't believe TG is a valid thing in the first place, and it's just a way for men to try to muscle into womyn's spaces.

    It's all very complicated.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    I'm not trying to hijack this thread at all but rad fems who dismiss trans persons are either bigots (who fight different bigots) or have no concept of intersectionality and, therefore, their opinions on subjugation and oppression are invalid to me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06233321050691782148 Michael Mock

    "I am recently realizing that I am bisexual, and I'm not sure what that means for me as a Christian."

    I'm not a Christian, but… well… The greatest commandment is to love God, right? And the second is to love your neighbor at yourself. Everything else – everything else – hangs on that.

    I don't see anything in there about getting everything exactly right, or being exactly who/how people think you're supposed to be. So at the very least, I'd say that it absolutely doesn't mean that you can't be a Christian any more.

  • Aubergine

    Hi Allison. If I could clarify from my perspective, I'd prefer to say that:

    1. Trans people exist, and it is not helpful to argue about whether they are "normal" or not. (Although I do think it is accurate to say that trans folks are within the broad range of human sexual and gender development.) The better question I think is how best to deal with gender dysphoria given the trans person's needs and his or her situation (family, money, other relevant factors.)

    2. Transition is _a_ way to treat gender dysphoria. The goal for treatment should be to help the dysphoric person find comfort in his or her skin. Not every person with gender dysphoria has the same needs. Some folks can do all right without transition; some can do fine with a partial transition; others need the whole shebang. The proper way to treat someone with gender dysphoria is to give the person the range of options and help him or her figure out what is going to help the most. Then the person can make the choices that are right for him or her.

    3. I did not see anyone argue that transition always affects kids positively. I did see people argue that it can be better than the alternative, which is that the kids would have a parent who was depressed, withdrawn, and effectively absent. I've seen people argue that getting the kids some therapy can be very useful. Folks here have also pointed out that kids fare a lot better when people outside the family do not attack the trans parent.

    Having a trans parent is a challenge for a kid, but it can be managed and ameliorated just as any other big change or challenge can be addressed by a caring parent.

  • http://greeneyed.livejournal.com/ greeneyed

    I randomly stumbbled upon your blog ages ago and have decided to revisit. Found your amazing story.

    The first post of yours I've read was about your abusive parents and I remember it being pretty dark. I'm glued to your current series and waiting anxiously for new posts as it illustrates your (and your spouse's) psychological journey. I guess, it's good to read about someone's healing process. I looket at your parenting posts as well and I'm amazed by your progress and how your bringing up initially affected your parenting choices.

    I delurked because I wanted to comment on the fundamental Catholicism vs. "natural order". I'm from a small VERY Catholic town (my flat was between 4 churches, there's still more of them than supermarkets or schools) and while I've met many ignorant bigots in my life, most of my friends and family are rational and while they do treat their religion seriously they aren't hatefull or prone to logic. To be honest, it was a very homophobic place BUT most people (yes, priests as well) accepted and understood transsexualism (but they've never heard of non-binary people or people who didn't transition medically). The "Catholic natural order" puzzles me, never heard of it. I was indoctrinated on every step of my life, went through confirmation exams and analysed The Bible, but the phrase is lost on me. As far as I know the official stance of the Church is to allow any medical and scientific procedures that increase our life quality. Oh and yes, Church does believe in evolution (though controlled by God of course) as most of the Bible is symbollic. Hm, the only thing that comes close to "natural order" is refusal to accept contraception. In high school we had something called "marriage preparation" and nope, nothing about women's and men's roles, just general relationship advice.

    So in sumarum, I believe you're dealing with someone who doesn't really get Catholicism or went a bit too far and interpretted things in a completely foreign way.

    Best of luck to both you and your spouse, you are both amazingly strong :) .

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "Anyone who has varied from any one of these three opinions has been shot down pretty harshly and rapidly (although not by you Melissa, more by other commenters). As soon as anyone hints at disagreeing with any of these three points their opinions are dismissed as ignorance and/or bigotry."

    That's just not true. A couple people have brought up actual concerns in a respectful and civil way that clearly indicates that they are actually willing to listen and keep an open mind, and they have been engaged accordingly. Unfortunately, those conversations have been all but drowned out by the yelling of trolls and, perhaps, by those of us who have maybe been feeding them too much. (I've never claimed to be good at walking away from an argument about something I have a strong moral position about, but perhaps I should try to get better at it…) These people are doing nothing but saying bigoted, cruel, belittling and willfully ignorant things while hiding behind the pretense of offering "criticism." They're not hear to listen or to learn, they're hear to pontificate and I don't see why they should have complete free reign on somebody else's blog to do it. As I've said, I think Melissa has been amazingly patient as it is.

    For the record, I have a big problem with the idea of "criticizing" who people are anyway. It's one thing to criticize people's politics or religion or philosophy, things people choose, and another to "criticize" their very identity. Can someone "criticize" my being female or someone else being Black? What does that even mean? I don't think it makes much sense to "disagree" with things about a person that they never agreed to–Melissa's spouse didn't agree to be trans, ze just is. When people claim to disagree with the mere fact of somebody being trans or being gay or whatever, what they're really saying is "You should be someone other than who you are because the kind of person you are is not as good as the kinds of people others are." Which is just plain bigotry. I don't have much patience with this attitude, even when it's expressed "politely," but when it's expressed in an abusive, harassing way, they're just making it easy for others to tell them to take a hike.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    Perhaps so, but there are a number of vocal and influential ones out there whose opinions other people think are valid, so it continues to be an issue.

  • Anonymous

    It's complicated… and courageous of you to share this. My question is does a man who identifies as a woman feel sexually attracted to men, or women? Cher recently gave an award of courage to her daughter Chaz, who is now transitioned to a man. I think he hasn't yet had 'bottom surgery' though. I think love is love, regardless. People can 'change' their gender, but can they change the gender they're attracted to? Just asking.

  • C

    I have a weak gender identity – if I'm surprised by a mirror, or a recording of my voice, it's an unpleasant shock to see how female I appear, but I don't feel more than slightly male, either.

    Under the gaze of a man who is attracted to me, I feel much more female (and I feel more male if I flirt actively with a woman). I find it really neat to be mistaken for a man, but I'm not so powerfully motivated by that that I bother to take even simple measures to make it happen more often.

    I have found other people like me, but from asking detailed questions, I gather that many people have a rather stronger and less situational sense of their own gender. Perhaps this is a source of non-understanding? It's tricky to understand what it means to have a very rigid gender identity, if one's own is slippery and situational.

  • Sapphire

    First, Chaz uses a male pronoun and should be referred to as Cher's son. As a general rule, you use the pronoun that matches how the person presents in order to be polite.

    This may be a repost as I think Blogger ate my previous attempt, but to answer your question, sexual preference and identity are two very different things. If you were a heterosexual born with female parts, and transitioned to male, you would be happier that your parts and your inner identity matched up, but most of the time there's no change in your partner choice. That is, even after transition you'd probably still go for men.

    One of my mother's great fears is that my spouse will upon transition suddenly go looking for one night stands with random men or orgies, but I have to say that the main thing holding back transition over the last 5 years has been his fear of losing me as he becomes she. I believe that most of my mom's notions come from media fearmongering, and certainly not personal experience. I think it's similar to how there's a popular perception of unmarried young pregnant women as loose, when the reality is a combination of luck and circumstance.

    My spouse has proceeded very cautiously since the initial drive to dress occurred. For the first year, she was hiding her activities and limiting herself to hotels while out on business trips. When I found out, I felt very betrayed that my husband was hiding a major part of his identity from me. After that, things got better because the communication opened up. Ever since, she has been very careful to talk to me about her needs before moving forward with this process.

  • Anonymous

    IF you add an S to LGBTQ then there is no longer any point in an acronym. Surely you would just use the term "people".

    Lucy

    • Pat Hayes

      Thanks, That is just what I was thinking while reading all this. PEOPLE, exactly. In the words of an old English saying, there’s nowt so queer as folk.

  • http://lettersfromcaro.blogspot.com/ Caroline

    I don't think the problem with certain rants is that they are rude, or even that they are aggressive–I haven't been reading comments, but I can imagine, and the problem with rants is that they're usually stupid. I mean, if someone says WHY they think you're an abomination, and presents some kind of a reasoned argument, that's not nice, and it's not friendly. That person's just plain wrong. But if they're talking rationally, maybe you can get through to them, and if not maybe what they say will be food for thought? Help you work out your own ideas further? But incoherent abuse is just pointless.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14423309373403650082 basketcase

    My other thought is that we need to find a way to find out how many of these posts are by ONE annonymous person… It gets really hard to tell whether its the same person or not!
    But thats my only comment in regard to moderation. Each to their own otherwise. I'm loving this series BTW.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14423309373403650082 basketcase

    No experience here personally, but I know I have heard that some identify in each of the possible ways – man transitioning to woman who has always been attracted to women, man transitioning to woman but has always been attracted to men etc etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00664669064795403538 yuenkay

    I don't think the gender you identify with has any relation to who you are attracted to. One's sexuality only "changes" in the sense that a straight woman after transition becomes a gay man. A lesbian woman after transition becomes a straight man. A bi woman after transition is a bi man.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00664669064795403538 yuenkay

    Melissa, is it an option to disallow anonymous no-profile comments? Nothing puts civility on the table faster than having names/profiles attached to words

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Gender and sexual orientation and two different things so even if someone changes their gender their sexual orientation doesn't usually vary with the change unless they were repressing it (for example if an anatomically born male person who likes girls but feels female transitions, she will be still attracted to girls and be a lesbian trans woman).

    That said there are people with fluid sexual orientation and gender that varies over time (but it's not like they decide who they like or feel attracted to, it's not something you rationally can change).

    Here it's a comic that tries to give a little explanation (it's oversimplified) : http://www.roostertailscomic.com/?p=994

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15478206293584940876 DCKitty

    Easy answer is that gender identity and sexual orientation are separate from one another. I am a pansexual transwoman. I don't care whether my partner's sex matches their gender identity or not, or whether they even identify with a gender.

    There are straight trans*persons, gay and lesbian trans*persons, bi and pansexual trans*person, and asexual trans*persons.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    It is an option, but I understand that some people who are not trolls would rather remain anonymous, I was one of them myself for a long time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    Sexuality is a pretty complex topic all on its own without adding gender identity and radical changes in hormones into the mix. I know that I personally have some degree of fluidity to my sexuality. I'm bi with a preference towards females, but the degree of preference one way or the other has changed a lot over the years, with the needle swinging back and forth all over. The core identity has remained the same, but the more superficial layers have been subject to change. I can't imagine I'm an isolated case.

    And, as I said, hormone changes really throw a wrench into the works. I know that in my own case, losing all that testosterone really took the edge off, so there's a lot less urgency about the subject. It's like I have a whole different perspective on the whole thing now, and I can't say that's a bad thing.

  • Anonymous

    I came across your blog from Jezebel…You and your wife are truly an inspirational example, and your story has gone a long way towards renewing my faith in love. Thank you for your courage.

  • Anonymous

    Jezebel.com led me here as well, and I nearly exploded from how wonderful you two are.

  • K

    C, I've never heard anyone ever express it that way, I just wanted to say thank you. You just made someone feel a little less alone in the world.

    Melissa, I came here from a Twitter recommendation. I haven't stopped reading all evening; after I finish reading this series, I will continue to read your blog for your wonderful writing. All my best wishes to you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    What an amazing story. Stay strong – there are a lot of people who support you and your wife for being yourselves. There's room for all of us in this world.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish more people had the strength and honesty that you do, and I hope this inspires others to recognize their own selves.

    I'm sorry for the negative comments you've received, but they are not worth anyone's time. It's incredible to me that there is still so much hate and fear directed towards those who stray from the ridiculous societal norms we are expected to uphold.

    I love reading your stories and your musings, and I wish you all the best in the future!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08791403451040847457 bookwench

    Since we're going with sewing metaphors, can I be the stitch witch? That stuff is awesome. It's saved my bacon so many times…. ;)

    I'd get stuck being the "B" again. I'm always stuck being the B… B cups, B average, B careful or you'll break the lam… dang it, where's the superglue…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08791403451040847457 bookwench

    I grew up christian, and one of the earliest and most profound influences on my thinking about my body was St. Francis of Assisi. He was the one with all the critters and the stigmata – the real hippie saint. His philosophy went something like, the body is meat, the soul is what matters, the body is just a thing the soul has to live in.

    Taking that to its logical extension – your body is what it is. From what I can figure, God (I refuse to call any deity a "him" or "her" – the idea of biological definitions like that applying to a spirit is too silly) doesn't care about the sack of organs you're schlepping around the planet. God cares what you *do* with it in the sense that you ought to make the world a better place with it. More joy, more love, more beauty, more care and patience and all those values. You never hear "Jesus blessed the blonde people and the brunette people but thought the redheads were evil" in the bible, right? It's all about love and inner journeys and stuff like that.

    Your inner journey is about seeing past the body to the person inside. Sexual attraction is just a part of being human and being close to someone. It's easy to say, but very, very difficult to do – how often do we judge someone by their body odor, their hairstyle, or their clothing?

  • Brittney

    I really enjoyed reading your story and your honesty. I am a Christian, who came to it after being raised agnostic so I don't have old ideas in me. But I know gay people that I am fully confident that God loves and has chosen them. I don't think it matters how they express their sexuality– they are saved just like I am even Im a broken person just like everyone else. They know God, they believe, but the Church has made them feel awful which makes me so sad. I don't know why they have that extra burden, or why anyone does over another, but its also true that no one escapes without something. Culture influences the battles chosen by Christians just like it influences everyone else.

    Your relationship and your love for each other through the hardships though is really inspiring, and a beautiful example of grace. I am really glad I read it tonight.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02248248476025627169 Alora

    I find Melissa to be strong & compelling.
    I find Charlotte to be hilarious… literally laughing out loud that she took it so personally when Melissa clearly said she was referencing anonymous hateful comments.

    Some people… My god great way to put a big red bulls eye on your own back Charlotte.

  • Anonymous

    I found you at "No longer quivering", I think the story is wonderful, and that your love for your husband is refreshing. Thank you for sharing this story with the world. Mary in NY (I had to stop reading the comments)

  • Riley

    Hi,

    As a transperson (female to male) with a Master's in Theology, I just want to say that I found your story incredibly moving and inspiring. I live in New York, where I've been out as trans for over a decade, and it can be easy to forget that not everyone has the perspective or the language that my communities and I have. Reading your honest exploration of your thought process and experiences brought me to tears, and I'm sure so much of your love and willingness to persevere with your relationship comes from your Christian beliefs and background. My liberal atheist mom and I were arguing this weekend about "homophobic" Christians, but she hasn't showed half the compassion or kindness you have to your spouse, despite being in a cultural situation where queer issues are hypothetically more accepted. Good luck to you, your partner, and your family, and know that there's a diverse trans community out here eager to welcome and support you, including plenty of religious and spiritual folks who have wrestled with these same issues in their own transition.

  • CharlieCheshire

    Hello, Melissa.

    I'm a teenaged lesbian who's struggled with her sexuality and her religion pretty much since birth. My family tries to be accepting, but my religious differences are something they can't accept – and my extended family wouldn't even need to hear about the religious differences. I've accepted that if they even hear tell of me holding hands with another girl, I'm going to be disowned. This is inevitable. However, it brings so much joy to me to see that you can reconcile some version of your original faith with who you are, and that you and your partner can sustain such a loving relationship despite what you've been through. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03985803090865983352 Anna

    bookwench, your comment has me wanting to steal your words for Facebook. Fantastic.

  • Mike

    Hi:
    Just landed here from an article I posted on my FB page. Haven’t been able to stop reading. This is really well written, and as a trans guy who was a lesbian and grew up evangelical, a lot of the words and context is accessible.
    You’re right to want to moderate. There’s discussing things, debating, and then there’s people who just can’t resist dragging their offline privilege onto the blog here. Some folks want the same right here they have in 98% of the rest of the world: “What do you mean it’s not an open forum? I need to be able to say nasty things about trans people, talk about how gross it is, and make sure you know it’s wrong for you to do this”.
    Hmm…no, I think you’ll really be okay. Your head won’t implode if you’re not allowed to say every mean and hateful thing that comes into your mind. Remember, you only have to do one thing if it really starts to bother you: get up from the computer and go outside. You have the entire world willing to let you talk about trans people in as much horrid, nasty language as you want to.
    So observe campfire rules here, would you?


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