I reject the idea that there are two sides to every story. The truth in many circumstances is hard to fathom, and can vary between individual witnesses, but when it comes to the transgender and transsexual folk - there's generally only one side. Let's take Jennifer Gale; a transwoman who died sleeping in the cold - because the Salvation Army wouldn't let her in unless she registered as a man. (It's one reason I absolutely refuse to donate to those bigoted bastards.) Is there another side to that story? Not really, not unless you support the bigoted and hate-filled ideas that Miz-Knows-Absolutely-Fuck-All frequently espouses.
So when it comes to Christine Benvenuto, it's easy to suppose there might be a "his" version, and a "her" version of events. Besides the simple fact that Ms Benvenuto's book was noticed and Joy Lavin's comes across as an effort to gloss over the difficult bits. (To be brutally honest, Ms Benvenuto is definitely the better writer.) Now, I know from the experience of my brother that when a divorce goes off the rails, the bitterness and anger are palpable. I've also encountered the subterfuge of some transsexual individuals. They promise not to up their estrogen or progesterone tablets - and do. They promise not spend more than "x" dollars on skirts, blouses and lingerie - and spend far more. The promise to not disappoint with more broken, or never meant to be kept promises. It goes on, the undermining of trust, a trust that has already been marred.
And then there's Ms Benvenuto's telling about "Tracey", who is now Ms Ladin. Are there two sides to this sorry tale of happiness destroyed? Joy Ladin has her happiness, but what was the cost?
I couldn't put my wife through that. There are plenty who have catcalled me on this, and I have little doubt that if I permitted anonymous commentary, there'd be plenty who still would. I simply couldn't put my wife through that. I love her. I know that's not exactly the right thing to say for some, but they have their lives and I have mine. And frankly I don't give a flying fuck if they approve, disapprove or want to screech their sorry little miseries, as they have so often done. I've been to the brink; I've been there more than once. I negotiated a compromise with myself, a place to start. Unlike Joy Lavin, I'd never tell my wife that it's a sex change or death - because it isn't. I could never do that to her, never blackmail her so. I love her, respect her too much to play that evil little game.
Marriage is a contract, an emotional contract. When I promised to stay by her side, through hell or high water, good times and bad - I meant it. That promise meant something to me, it means something to me. It's important to me. My love for her, her love for me - it's important to me. If keeping that love means forgoing the dream of mine since I was a child? Fine. I can live with that. It might be hard at times, but the alternative is not an alternative - it's a way out, not a solution. And believe me - I fucking know. (Actually, I don't give a toss if you believe me or not.) I've learned to live with it. It hasn't been easy, I'd never say it was easy - but when I think of her, my life is wonderful. Like everyone else, we've had some hard shit tossed in our direction over the twenty-plus years we've been married; we've got through it together. Both of us have made mistakes - me way more than her - but we've survived.
It's all about what's important to you, as an individual. No one can criticize your decisions, because they don't have your life. Oh, they'll try - and they'll try to do so on the front page of the nearest checkout line tabloid. Or blog comment; those trolls don't care, either way is fine by them. As long as they can let you know how miserable they are, they'll seek a way to communicate their sad little thoughts. For some, it really is a sex change or death; the misery is too much. For others, it isn't. But when it comes to the destruction of a marriage, to the happiness of one person over another's, to the little things that convey so much? Then no - there's only one side to the story. Personally speaking, I'd hate to be on the side of destruction.