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A Reader Asks...

My name is Bob and this is the first letter of this kind that I have written. I hope you don't mind, and have patience with my attempts to articulate my thoughts. I've followed your story and transition during the past year or so through your Subversion articles on AOL.

Now my questions. Hormones and perhaps your predisposition have changed the way you feel emotionally about men. Do you still feel the same way you did in 1992? Do you still feel aroused by women? How much of your "male" senses remain e.g. do you still look at some things from Dave's viewpoint?

Melanie Replies...

Hormones have such a gradual effect (spanning many years) that it is hard to determine which changes in attitude come from the biochemistry and which simply come from life experience. For example, since I am still living with my family, they quite naturally look to me for the same kind of leadership of the household I had supplied previously. As a result, my entire mindset is much more geared to being the head of the household rather than a participant. Often, I do not get to enjoy the role I have chosen for myself since I effectively still fulfill the husband's position.

Certainly, Mary and I are no longer romantically involved, yet it is a strange mix of friendship and something closer. We still snuggle together and in many ways act like a married couple, though we do not sleep in the same room, and neither of us desires an intimate relationship with the other.

There are positive and negative aspects to dating men. On the plus side, there is an intangible, wonderful, feeling I get when with a man. Part of it is protection when in his arms. Part is the relief of not having to be the person in charge all the time. (But would I still enjoy that if I didn't have that role every day at home?)

Sexually, I find I am no longer attracted physically to women at all. Not that I couldn't be, mind you, if some gorgeous babe were to come on to me, but just that I never think of women in that way anymore on my own. (All right, well maybe once in a blue moon, but in fact I'll bet you that just about any woman alive, whether she admits it or not, finds herself briefly aroused by an attractive woman from time to time.) I don't experience that often, nor in any degree of intensity or for any duration to speak of.

As for men (from a physical standpoint) I don't find them sexually attractive at all - until one of them holds my hand or gives me a hug. Suddenly, I find myself getting turned on as if by magic. That never happens with jerks, but only comes to life when I have become aware that the man in question has compassion, intelligence, and wit. Put those three together and I find him interesting. Have him be interested in me and get around to making physical contact of any kind and that ignites the spark.

I'll tell you what - I never could understand this in my former life when women told it to me, but here it is - what attracts me physically to a man is not his looks or how many muscles he has but idiot things like suspenders, blue jeans, neatly trimmed beards, even round frame glasses like John Lennon. I look for how well he is dressed - not how expensively, but how tastefully, appropriately. That can be as casual as a T-shirt and jeans, but if they are clean and neat, in short (as corney as it sounds) if he is well groomed, that is a plus.

Then, a non-show-off confidence indicative of a quiet strength, well that sets the stage. It doesn't mean that he can't ever be out of his element, petty, confused, or worried - as long as he deals with it in humor without taking himself too seriously, and if he unintentionally steps on my feelings, he is man enough to apology (after struggling with himself for a while because he is convinced it is my fault). It doesn't matter whose fault it is, as long as he looks after my feelings.

I've come to think that men are looking for physcial profits and emotional security, whereas women are looking for emotional profits and physical security.

Another Question...

Now a question which bothers me in all Transgendered relationships with spouses or SO's. I realize this question is very personal, and will understand if you don't want to answer. But you have been intimate with both men and women after your surgery. You had ( up to Chapter 33) come to realize how much you needed a man in your life. You wanted to be held, to experience the dating game, to do all those things you had not done before. You don't want to give up your family -- the're great but not fulfilling enough. You apparently havve achieved some sort of new relationship with Mary. You have had the sex thing and now want to get on.

(Very well paraphrased!)

This is your story and you have told it from your perspective. But what about Mary? What is her life now? Does she date, have intimate relationships with men, want a man to hold to have his arms around her. Want all these things , even if still loving you?

After all, she has not changed. She has has the same female needs, desires and longings that you now enjoy. Does she have the same freedom in relationships that you have? It seems that she, and others in her situation, still living with their spouse, have lost something-- perhaps more than what you have gained. I guess that I just worry about her and others like her, and find it hard to understand the emotional rollercoaster that she went through.

Melanie Replies...

Well, I often wonder about that myself, but Mary is a very private person with her emotions (much more like a man in that respect). So, I can only surmise what she might be feeling from the little clues I can pick up.

I think of the two (emotional profit and physical security) she is VASTLY more concerned with physical security. Naturally, like all women, she would like both. But also like all women, when it comes down to it, diamonds are a girl's best friend. It's not that you want to be rich - having a huge surplus is not the issue. Even a small, one room apartment will do, as long as the woman is sure she can keep it.

That is the real key, both for Mary and women in general: to know that what you have won't be taken away. That is why Mary gets so emotionally raw whenever our finances are a bit shakey. When we have enough in the bank to feel secure, she often comes to me without ever having had a conversation with me about money and says, "I don't know why, but I really feel content." Well, I know why - it's the security.

Now, beyond that, of course she would like a man to hold her and take care of her. I imagine that my knowing that is a big part of what keeps me here. I can't bring myself to leave her with nothing in that area. At least I can hold her when she is sad, take charge with strength when she is afraid or depressed, and give her father-like guidance when she is lost.

Of course, those are just the things I am looking for myself, not the things I want to be providing. But, with all her loyalty, well that means a lot to me. So, I'm willing to do what I can, even if it comes at an emotional cost to me.

Would she be better off if I left? Am I just a tranquilizer for her real needs? Would she find a good man if I gave her the space to grow into? Who knows! And would I be able to let the unpleasant attitudes I must adopt for her fade away if I was gone? Would I be able to have a stronger relationship with a man or would I remain alone in an apartment? Who knows!

I stay out of love and fear. She desires me to stay out of love and fear. Love of each other, fear of the alternatives. We have each overcome so much in our lives, I wonder if either of us will ever have the strength to risk it all, yet again, for something that might be better but could just as easily be worse?

I'll let you know in thirty or forty years....

This letter is long enough. I hope I haven't offended. This was not my intent. Please respond.




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