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Tolerated, Accepted or Supported?

SupportWhen announcing a huge ass decision such as undergoing gender transition, many people around you will declare in loud voices that they totally support you. Many of them, as you will come to discover, are filthy disgusting liars, which honestly, is kind of what they think of you. The topic for today is the difference between being supported, being accepted, and being tolerated. As I’m sure you have guessed by now, they are not at all the same thing. They are, however, better than being disparaged, abhorred, or killed, so we are really talking positives here, as thin as some of them may seem.

Many of the people who come out to say they support you in fact only tolerate you. There are two types of tolerance really – by choice, or enforced. Enforced tolerance is the kind you may expect to see at work. Because they are without options that won’t land them in the HR office hearing about what a huge dick they are being, they continue working with you, though may be visibly unhappy about it. This type also can apply to family. If the acknowledged head of the family is favorable to your transition, almost everyone else feels the need to toe the line, siblings often being the exception. By the way, I’ve noticed that negative reactions from siblings are very common and always wondered why. Either way, they stand to win, and you if you have siblings, you know good and damn well that there is a hierarchy there. If you were the golden child, your siblings should be ecstatic about your fall from grace and be bending backwards to assist you. If you were the black sheep, this only cements their standing. This should be really good news for them regardless.

The other kind of tolerance is by choice and generally occurs when they have no skin in the game. Your transition doesn’t really affect them in any appreciable way and they don’t have any strong prejudices about it. These are people who aren’t going to decline social engagements because they hear you are going to be there, but they also aren’t going to invite you to anything either. This will apply to the vast majority of people who know you. It is wise to understand who these people are, because they are certainly the ones who don’t want to hear the gory details of your electrolysis, breast growth, or GRS, especially if male. One might be tempted to amp up the tragic nature of transition, but this is a big mistake. Chances are, they view what you are doing is a lifestyle decision and any whining can quickly turn tolerance into scorn.

Better than being tolerated is being accepted. Generally this applies to friends, family, and other individuals who do actually have skin in the game. At some point they had to make a decision as whether the personal feeling they have about this is a deal breaker in the relationship. They can either walk away or come to the decision that they can accept what is going on here, even if they feel you were a deceitful scumbag for most of your life. The biggest mistake people tend to make in regards to people who accept them is that they are willing to help you. Most of the time, they are not. They can understand that you needed to do something here, but they certainly aren’t very excited to be a part of it. It is also worthwhile to note that people who accept you probably also resent you at the same time. They still like you as you, but are less than thrilled to lose a poker buddy, romantic partner, or heir to the family name.

The rarest class is those who support you. Often times, these are folks with a lot of skin in the game of you and are willing to put their money where their mouth is and step in and help. These folks are willing hear your stories, may come to your support meetings, or even help facilitate aspects of your transition. If you are smart, you will do whatever is necessary to keep such people in your life because they are pure gold in terms of helping you to feel all right about yourself. Transition is a horribly selfish process and many of us suffer from more than a little guilt about the perceived wake of destruction left in your path to happiness. There is a good chance that supporters were caught in that wave and probably have some feelings about it as their lives were irrevocably changed and in some cases temporarily ruined. Accepting that responsibility is a good idea because as crappy as it feels sometimes, they payback is well worth it.

Transition is a high risk venture, and everyone who doesn’t oppose you should be appreciated whether they stand on the sidelines, decide you are the world’s greatest asshole but their asshole, or are willing to travel hundreds of miles just to drive you from the hospital to a GRS recovery location. It may not be all you were hoping for, but be grateful for what and who you have.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

17 responses »

  1. enjoyed reading this article and all the comments a lot. as a 57yo transwoman i often feel tolerated at work, mostly because of the HR issues, although over the years i’ve earned some respect for doing my work well, etc. tricky part for me is, i’m sometimes not the only TG at this company so i get to view someone’s wlse’s presentation from the outside looking in, same as everyone else. raises questions about what, exactly, as a transwoman do i really expect from others? i watch some of the genetic females go thru rough times at the company too — how far does this respect thing supposed to stretch exactly? i often wonder, as long as no one is coming at me with a knife or hurling insulting phrases at me,is that perhaps enough? almost everyone, i’ve noticed, is willing to grant me the space and freedom to live my own life and make my own choices — should i ask for, demand or expect more? i don’t feel excluded or left out from the social side of things — just not everybody’s first choice of who to sit with in the compnay cafeteria, for instance, but so what?
    oh well, enough ranting — enjoyed the article a lot, thanks!

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  2. ラッシュガード メンズ 長袖

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  3. Fantastic blog and great comments. One of the issues I’ve seen is that people at large concentrate on the sexuality or genitalia of people who change – and although it’s a part of the change it’s not the main issue. If you didn’t like the smell of lillies as a man you’re unlikely to like them as a woman. The person that is you is still you.
    One question I do have is – when you changed did you become not just more womanly looking but womanly in life? Did you feel more motherly towards children or did you eat less ‘manly’ foods? Did you change not because of your appearance but actually changed because you’re now a woman?

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    • Thank you! As for your question – it’s complicated. I’m not sure I so much changed as gave in to my already present inclinations that I had been suppressing due to being in denial and evasion mode when I was still closeted. I was always ‘motherly’ although before my transition, people would have just called it ‘fatherly’ I suppose. I have been told, however, that I have grown a lot chattier in places people had grown accustomed to my taciturn silence, such as in long car rides. The truth is that when it comes to tastes, behaviors, and other personality traits, the overlap between ‘male’ and ‘female’ is nearly 100% – very little is mutually exclusive to one gender.:-)

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    • If you don’t mind my ‘chiming-in…’

      I stopped censoring those things about me that were very natural, but would have seemed odd to see in someone presenting as a man. These included attitudes and behaviors that our culture deems to be more appropriate for women. These things were always in my personality and self expression, but they were *muted*, and so were seen was “quirky,” and “pleasantly peculiar” (at least in my adult years).

      I never created a macho persona, I simply “turned-down” my innate femininity to “acceptable” levels (ie levels that kept me from be beaten, thrown out of work, and other forms of rejection – many of which I have experienced because I’ve always ‘vibed’ female). So, I presented as a man who was deeply feminine, but not effeminate. I can see now that the reality was that I was a woman “driving” a (largely) male body in (seemingly) masculine ways to survive as a child and “get by” as an adult…

      …Finally, enough was enough, but I did not pop-open the lid of my “pressure cooker” all at once, and suddenly become Brettany. Instead it was a gradual releasing of pressure by removing masculine gender cues and replacing them with feminine ones – each instance making me feel more as I knew myself to be inside. Over several years, as my body, self expression and peoples’ perceptions changed, I was able to do more and more to bring myself closer to congruence: these things all working together synergistically. For example, my gentle, nurturing ways, and my taking-up of knitting were (at a certain point) both appropriate to my overall form and expression – I was no longer an automatic threat to women and children because I was a man. Though I was simply trying to be myself, eventually, people were seeing me as a woman, and when I realized this, I relaxed, knowing I was close to home – I then affirmed this by changing my name and legal gender.

      So, I never changed from man to woman. I was a woman who expressed herself as a “man,” and who now expresses herself as a woman.

      Oh, a couple of notable things have changed: I don’t chase-off into men’s changing areas and such after my son (THAT *really* irked my spouse!!). AND my role as the family “fix-it” has passed-on to my son. I don’t refuse to do these things, my spouse and her mother no longer ask me, but ask him instead. I’m pleased with this, proud of him, but I never took this for the gender role that other women in my life did and it’s passing was a little sad…

      …Another shift, is that I am no longer a “husband,” but a spouse. The title is there and is still used at painful times, but the shift from Mr. & Mrs. to Ms. & Mrs. has been more profound than I imagined – mostly for the grieving my spouse has had to undergo. But also very much to do with how we interact with others as a couple. We *appeared* “straight” and now we appear “lesbian,” but we are the same people mostly. Our roles are little changed – I’ve always been a husband/wife and she a wife/husband. For me, I grieve the grieving of others, and the lose of familiarity as we move into little-charted waters with few role models for our “transgender marriage.”

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      • Thanks for. the detailed reply, it really does give an insight into the thought processes, needs and issues.

        I could not imagine the turbulence and issues you have been through. Amazing

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        • Thank you for your kind words.

          I should confess that my description may only apply to me. Transsexuals have a lot of similarities, but our lives and “gender careers” are often quite different. I have transitioned gently and gradually through androgyny over some years. I never had “guy” and “gal” modes: I was always “myself.” I never cross-dressed, but always presented as myself, though my expression moved steadily from masculine through androgynous to feminine. In this, my gender never changed, but my description of it and my gender expression has changed drastically. From what I have learned, my “trajectory” more closely resembles younger transsexuals than “late onset” folks.

          Hope this helps!

        • I understand. One of the issues regarding sexuality is that there are sweeping generalisations made of the ‘he can’t be gay he has a child’ type of thing or that everyone who has male-to-female issues is a ‘trannie’ (a particular word I detest).
          The sexuality of humans is a wide and varied spectrum but the bandwidth has been constantly narrowed over the years by the Catholic Church (et al) until there is normal and abnormal. This more than anything else has cause immense anguish to billions of people throughout the ages.

          It’s time to shrug them off and for people to live the lives according to their own rules.

          Anyway, I congratulate you on your successful transition and I hope you have a wonderful life

  4. Wow. This is such useful information. Call me naive, but I never thought that people would see it as a lifestyle choice.

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  5. I wrote a blog post called “Tolerance’ is not the same as “acceptance” and used this comparison. While you accept the fact that you are mortal and will die one day, you tolerate a neighbor who decides to mow his lawn in the wee hours on a Sunday morning.
    I have a new girlfriend I met recently who I told about my hip surgery and my fast recovery and she expressed to me how impressed she was. Then I dropped the bombshell of being trans on her and she was even more impressed and told me I was a natural woman.. She loves to hear my stories and I plan to hold on to her for a long time, if I am able.

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  6. I don’t even know if I have the right to post a comment on this one. At the moment, I feel like I’m on the street looking in the store window at things I have no real business looking at. But I’ll vent anyway.

    I’ve been in a blue funk lately, and it’s most obvious to the girl I’ve been seeing for a few years. I have to put this woman in the support category simply because she met me while I was in dire need of getting my gurl into public and I would have taken much longer to do that without her grabbing my hand and pulling me. She has gone out with me, shopped with me for clothes, jewelry and hair, advised me, critiqued me, shared my makeup, combed out my wigs, and has generally been there for me under any and all circumstances. On the flip side, my being more bigendered than trans diminishes my femme feelings somewhat after we spend a lot of time together. (I think I may have mentioned this in other posts. My motto, “If you can’t have the woman you want, BE the woman you want,” suffers miserably when you wind up with a woman you never remotely thought in a million years you’d actually be with.)

    My concern that I shouldn’t be commenting right now is tied to this funk and that diminished femme sense. It pisses me off to a certain extent, too, because I have a right to those feelings and they’re hard to locate lately. Where IS Deanna? Part of my problem is that I have never felt there has been that much definition to the male part of who I am, and when the gurl isn’t anywhere to be found, it feels like I don’t exist at all. As much as any of you in true transition may think you have troubling issues, at the very least you have a sense of true identity, which carries you through each day and gives you a signpost and a goal. I envy you, I seriously do. Even without the gender issue, I would love to be a defined individual. I don’t know how much of this I can pin to my Asperger’s, certainly some of it.

    I do appreciate that Michelle posted this because I really hadn’t thought about where the people in my life who know about Deanna actually live in this regard. I would have put most of them in the “support” basket, but they really should be in either the “accepting” or “tolerating” ones. To tell the truth, only a very few people I know as Michael have ever seen Deanna, and so another reason for me to feel I’m outside looking in. Even the ex, who abhorred and disparaged me after I outed to her, and eventually abandoned me for a “manly man,” never saw me dressed. Simply the thought that I could experience such dysphoria turned her stomach. My daughters have never seen their daddy en femme and, although seemingly understanding and accepting, are probably much more in the ‘tolerant by choice’ camp and would likely opt to NOT see their father making a much better looking woman than their mother (the first of two exes), had they their druthers. The friends I have with whom I communicate mostly via email and with whom I can share what’s going on in Deanna’s world have seen only photos of her. Some seem accepting, some seem to tolerate, and some outright admit they don’t really like “her,” probably mostly because they liked “him” more because he was there first and that’s who they knew. The GF’s mom has seen and spent time with Deanna, and although seemingly supportive at times, seemingly accepting at others, has also made comments that she does not really like Deanna, and therefore I suppose it”s a matter of enforced tolerance. (She wants me in her daughter’s life and will keep things stable for that reason.)

    Sometimes I wonder if the rest of the world’s attitude toward me is what’s controlling how far I’ll let my femme feelings go. Are the reins being pulled in on me? As it ever has, am I letting fear of consequence determine what I’ll do and what I won’t when it comes to who I want to be, genderwise? Am I afraid to face the fact that, even as a male, I’ve only ever been tolerated or accepted, and that being a woman wouldn’t really change anything?

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    • Deanna?

      For what it’s worth, I value your voice in this space and on this topic. It sounds to me like are paths are similar enough in this that you very much “get” it.

      I think I know a little how you feel about your identity: *where* is Deanna? My story doesn’t have me knowing I was a girl/female from when I was little – I only knew that I wasn’t a boy, and not a man; I didn’t know it was possible for me to be a woman until *much later*. It wasn’t *safe*…

      …AND in this season of your life Deanna it seems *unsafe* for you to be fully who you are, or to freely pursue that question. I hope it becomes *safe* for you soon; you’ve given-up much for Deanna already. You may find that your gender ebbs and flows between masculine and feminine, even moment by moment. BUT I *do* have confidence that you will learn this about yourself and find peace…

      …Likewise, when Brettany is secure in *being*, she will draw Brett to herself and share this body together as an integrated person – I see that day approaching for me. What will I be then? I think…I think…I will be a gender and sex-blended person who is most herself when expressed as a woman.

      Blessings & Joy Deanna!!

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      • Thanks, Brettany, for intuitive thinking and another “hole in the fence of my identity” to peek through. Michelle also seems to believe similarly regarding who Deanna really is and why she feels it unsafe to emerge completely just yet. I won’t argue with sisters who have been there and have seen me expose myself enough to be able to offer an informed and caring opinion based on their own experiences. For now, I will try to manage to be content with just being on the road and taking comfort in being me, whoever that is and whoever I am on the way to becoming.

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  7. Yep – huge difference. As someone who had an anonymous death threat by internal telephone at work, I know how that works.

    Way back when I started transition I had a gazetted job in the public service. The management said they supported me, but being told that I’d have to use either the gents or a disabled toilet (nearest one 4 floors away) because “two of the women on the floor objected to me using the woman’s” wiped out that illusion. In fact when I asked agin, they got LEGAL ADVICE from the Attorney General’s Department to say that I could be directed to do either by my employer and fired if I didn’t.

    I compromised.

    In fact I went to the floor with the disabled toilet – which just happened to have the office of the Attorney General’s Department – where they DIDN’T KNOW ME, and used the women’s instead.

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  8. Jayden Alfre Jones (JJ)

    Lady Wolf,
    As usual, truthful, thoughtful,insightful,and spot on. I can’t help myself, but qote one of my most favoriate writers, “Transition dosen’t cure all of ones probems, just one, while introducing a big hoary host of others in the process”. Can anyone guess who the writer might be?

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  9. Thank You Michelle for writing this post – there is a LOT of wisdom therein.

    I really need to think about these…it seems there could also be the potential for a transaction here?

    Having transitioned (actually I’m still in the process), I know this is costing others *something*, therefore, I want these people to find that I am more valuable to them as who I am to now than who I was then. I have consciously made that decision with my spouse. We have had almost a quarter century of stressors between us (many of which drive couples to divorce), and in recent years we have added my transition. Both of these things were too heavy for her and she was approaching the breaking-point (I’m leaving-point). I looked hard at the stressors: a LOT of them are her issues, but a goodly number are mine (a lot of them are beyond both of our control). So, I decided that I simply cannot go back on my gender stuff (it would destroy me), BUT I can change the irkesome things that bother her that are due to my “stuff” (stuff I have to “get over,” stuff I felt justified in not “fixing,” attitudes/behaviors/stuff that I am willing to jettison for the sake of our marriage). NOW that I am doing these things, I am becoming more “valuable” as a person and my gender expression and changes in my body much more cope-able from her perspective. Interestingly, I have seen that the places where I need to “grow up” are also things that are promoting her growth, so we are both winning.

    With others, even as when I lived as a man, I felt I was on the edge of being tolerated, and so I always tried to be more “valuable” than the “trouble” I felt I was worth. The rational part of me recognizes that it’s really my feelings of being toxic to others that drove this – as an adult, most people thought me very nice and kind, if peculiar (my childhood was hell). So, as an openly trans person and now as a transwoman, I bend over backwards to be kind and considerate to people. A part of me wants to do this just “because.” But I know my motives are mixed…mixed with my toxic-to-others feelings, and also this idea of “transaction” I mentioned above…

    …I *can* say that it’s very likely my transition has been as smooth as it’s been in large part because I have tried very hard to be a nice person both before and especially now. AND I am also healing of the trauma-stuff that drove me to consider myself illegitimate and toxic, so I am being nice more and more simply because I want others to experience “nice” in their lives, and it brings me joy to be part of that.

    BUT what you’ve written here helps me understand people in my life better and it shines light on some of what I can expect (and what I should avoid) in these relationships. I have certainly burned my share of bridges in my transition and there’s no going-back.

    Oh…to those who slap me with the “you’re incredibly selfish; I thought you were a nice person” thing, I have these words: all of us encounter learning opportunities that are thrust upon us and we wish we could avoid – life is FULL of these. My transsexuality is one of these. I didn’t ask for it and it became life or death for me. I *wish* people didn’t love and care for me as much as they do because my transition, my unwanted growth opportunity, forces growth opportunities upon them – BUT life isn’t fair – it’s not fair to any of us. So we can be improved by these opportunities, or we can be soured by them: I choose to be improved.

    Goodness…I have *so much* more growing to do!!

    Blessings & Joy!!

    Reply

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