The Anatomy of a Breakup

From The New York Times:

Modern Love


BEFORE we met, my partner had changed names from a female-sounding one to a male one, and by the time we were together, everyone we knew either called him by this new name or spoke of him with male pronouns. He identified himself as a transgender man, woman to man. It wasn’t until two years after we began dating that he decided to have his breasts removed.

For him, chest surgery was the next step in transitioning genders, a symbolic and physical gesture of leaving womanhood behind. He wanted to replace his 34-C’s with emptiness, a flat manly chest to the outside world and scars to him and me.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect. But because he had limited contact with his parents, I was to be his primary caregiver, which entailed escorting him on the day of his surgery and playing nurse (not in a sexy way) for two weeks after the operation.

This was in San Francisco, land of blurry gender identities, where it’s common to pass as “other” gendered — neither male nor female but elsewhere on the “queer” spectrum. For my partner, that expression meant a cropped butchy haircut and preppy men’s clothing, usually a polo shirt and Banana Republic jeans. If his gender had matched his appearance — had he been born with a male body and joined a fraternity — we never would have followed the same orbits.

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4 Responses to “The Anatomy of a Breakup”

  1. Angela Says:

    We all have our gender journeys to make… the reality of this mans sexed body seems to have been too much for the author of this piece. I really do feel for him. Her guilt just seems like a sop to her own conscience. And I wonder if trans men are passing lesbian identified but physically straight cis women over to the cis straight men, after all they have the dicks. Just as trans women and women born transexual often pass straight identified but physically gay cis men over to the gay world.
    So we stand in the middle, not for ourselves, but for others. We don’t get paid for doing this, unless we are sex workers, and that’s a risky game, and we are not valued for it.

    • Suzan Says:

      I don’t think the straight men who are attracted to us are necessarily gay. I think many/most of them are heterogendered and are reacting to that which is feminine about pre-ops and female about WBTs.

      Women are much more fluid than guys when it comes to sexuality. I’ve slept with too many “straight” women and known to many bi-women over my life time, myself included.

      I don’t feel sorry for either party. Being with some one through their changes is hard on partners. Very few make it through. Probably more for T to Fs married to women for a long time especially when there are children.

      But even then.

      I broke up with the guy I was with. We both found girl friends.

  2. Angela Says:

    I take your point, maybe I’m just jaded.

  3. Andrea B Says:

    As long as two people are consenting adults and are happy together, who cares.

    The whole homo this, hetro that, cis them thing is an annoyance at best.

    It is a couples own personal business regardless of there sexual orientations or sex and I wish them the best.

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