Why Some of Us Avoid Support Groups
I'm sorry for not posting as often as I promised. I've been sick (I'm mostly better now) and I'm exceptionally busy right now. A lot of my commitments are coming due in the next 3-10 days. Part of this is due to my inability to say 'no' to requests for my time and attention.
I've posted about how even in ostensibly heterosexual relationships, I always considered them lesbian. And I'm now in my first "legit" lesbian relationship with a girl who considers me nothing but a girl. …oh, and it's awesome!
Take a look at this article. I had such high hopes for it, but it devolved into the typical insensitive trans* reporting errors that I see everywhere: before-and-after photos, focus on surgery and the medical aspects of transition, publishing the before name, and so on (more on this below).
The discussion in this article gets interesting after much of the crap I mention below. For example, how his partner had trouble finding good support. My partner has struggled a little with the same. When she's looked for support (generally in online forums, which are good places…), she's finding that were she to comment, she'd be in he supporter role, rather than in the suportee role. Most people seem to be merely mourning the loss of their previous partner (pre-transition). Our case is different: she fell in love with me *after* I started the transition, so her issues are related but different.
I think that there may be a structural problem with support groups: the successful ones don't stick around to offer advice. There's nothing in it for them, and they don't take on the role of "giving back." And the people who do stick around are often those with an agenda (there *is* something in it for them) and they give absolutely terrible advice.
We find this in trans* support groups for the trans* persons themselves. The people who "made" it just fine don't continue to go, so the "regulars" become those who aren't doing so well, and so they present themselves as authorities of advice to newbies, and give horrible, horrible advice. They also paint an unreasonably bleak picture of transition. Hell, I avoided all support groups for that reason: I don't need to hear that no one will ever view me as a woman, and that I'll be disowned by my friends and family, and that I'll face nothing but harassment and discrimination. …none of these have been true for me. But if I were to be surrounded by these messages, I may have believed it, and it may have led to some self-fulfilling prophecies and changes to my behaviour and outlooks. …so I'm quite glad that I avoided them.
Also, fucking before-and-after picture…ugh, trans* reporting fail. This article started off so well…and declined into expressing the typical narrative (knew from childhood) that accurately describes lots of trans* people, but totally doesn't describe the experiences of LOTS and LOTS of others (myself included). Then discussing surgery…and the medical aspects. Come on, why couldn't you just focus on the relationship and social aspects? …oh right…you're "curious" and so are your readers. Well, naturally, that excuses everything…