Here’s another very thoughtful, and lengthy, story published in the L.A. Times Weekly on the sad fate of Christine Daniels. (Christine, nee Mike Penner, was a sportswriter for the L.A. Times who transitioned very publicly at the paper, with the general support of that paper and its readers; in time, however, she went back to being Mike. She took her own life last year.)
This one sees her story as a “tragic love story,” the love story being Christine’s marriage to her wife Lisa. Thesis here is that the loss of that marriage was too hard for Christine to bear, and that she de-transitioned back to Mike in hopes of salvaging the relationship. This article would have a lot more teeth, if you ask me, if the author had managed to interview Lisa, the wife in question, although it’s clear enough that she wanted her privacy and wasn’t in the mood to muddy the waters at this late date by speaking publicly. I respect that decision– living all of this in the bright light of the public eye is pretty hard; it’s one reason Deirdre/Grace has generally not had much interest in speaking publicly about matters that are, almost by definition, private.
It is clear, though, that a good rule of thumb for trans folks is to know that the changes in your romantic relationships are often the hardest to bear, and that the aches and pains from those changes can outlast transition itself. I’ve seen this again and again– the euphoria of transition gives way to melancholy of what’s lost–often, the love from the people that we our own selves love most.
And another good rule of thumb: all of this, which is hard enough for tough characters, let alone the vulnerable souls that trans folks usually are–is about eight million times harder to deal with in the harsh light of celebrity. For so many of us, ”get yourself on a talk show” is such a mandatory element of transition that it feels like one of the standards of care. But more often than not, that’s exactly the wrong place to be, unless you happen to have nerves of steel, and/or your relationship itself feels safe and protected.
In short, trans people are well advised to consider the sign that used to hang outside the house of the meanest lady in my home town: CAVE CANEM. Beware of Dog.