Saturday, December 29, 2012

When the "Other Woman" in Your Marriage Is ... Your Husband

"Sex Changes, A Memoir of Marriage, Gender and Moving On" by Christine Benvenuto   St. Martin's Press   294 pages   $25.99

Nutshell:  Benvenuta and her husband had been married 20+ years and had three children.  The citizens of their small town in New England (never identified) admired their "perfect" marriage.  And then one night, right after having had sex, he turns to her and says, "I'm thinking constantly of my gender," a prelude to informing her that he now wants to live the rest of his life as a woman.

To say that she reeled in shock is understatement.  The husband becomes a total narcissist, a sea change from being a funny, kind guy who was an excellent father to their children.  All of a sudden, his life was more important and "meaningful" than those of his children.  He began to wear women's underwear under his Dockers and flannel shirts.  He let his hair grow out.  He had his facial hair lasered off.

His therapist, a trans-gender specialist, encouraged him, praising him for his bravery.  His wife, though, was terrified that he would start wearing skirts and dresses in public, the last thing she wanted their kids to see.  They were puzzled enough by his preoccupation with self and his lack of interest in their daily doings.

She makes a point of the attitude of the citizens there by calling their village "The Valley of the Politically Correct."  This translates to:  everyone thought he was a hero, completely ignoring the fact that he was abandoning his wife and three children.  That apparently didn't matter.  They fell over themselves to prove that they were "politically correct" and supportive of him.  So much so, that many of them chided the wife for not being supportive!

They stayed "married" and lived in the family home for two, very long, secret-filled years before getting into a bitter custody battle over the children.

Based on the information given (and there was a lot more than I needed to know about trans-genders and their reasoning and causes of this condition) his father, a rigid, stern, cold man wanted his only son to grow up to be just like him.  The son, terrified of his father, decidedly did not want to be just like his old man.  But ... if he were a woman, he couldn't be!  Simplistic, I know. 

It's an interesting tale and Benvenuda tells it well. 

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