Often trans people marry in their assigned gender, and transition later. Women married to trans women often stay married, as a loving couple, or they may split in a reasonable, amicable manner, remaining friends, caring for children together, making sure the split is as fair as possible. Unfortunately, some women refuse to move on from the relationship, though it has ceased. They believe they have been wronged, and find online communities which affirm that. They can become the most obsessive anti-trans campaigners.
“Trans Widows Voices” is a particularly poisonous site. It encourages women to stew in their hatred, and foments the myth of autogynephilia. The self-righteous victimhood damages the relationship with the former partner, and harms both the divorcing wife and the trans woman.
“Women report feeling like their male partner has died.” In the loss of her relationship, the woman will go through a process of mourning. She has suffered a trauma. However if there is any blame, it is on the wider society, which so stigmatises trans people that we are in denial, and terrified to admit our true selves. It is not on the trans woman who has found the courage to express herself at last.
“This site uses correct sex pronouns.” That is, it denies the trans woman’s experience and the reality that trans people exist, and transition in the most awful circumstances. “We also support women having the language to accurately describe their own experiences and to represent their reality.”
“Shalyn’s story” is pitiable. They may have married too young: she graduated from university after marriage. The couple should never have married, and the wife appears to have been in denial throughout. “I thought we had a great relationship,” she writes, after writing of things she found a turnoff: the trans woman’s shaving her legs and acting submissive in the bedroom. Some men are submissive. Some women are assertive.
The trans woman did not handle it well. When her wife repeatedly confronted her, each time she would promise not to cross-dress again. The wife says the woman insisted they start a family, and eventually have three children, though she complains of the lack of sex in their marriage.
Mary Joan says it was a lie when her trans woman husband said “My wife always knew I was transgender”. She knew the woman liked to wear women’s clothes during sex. She calls this “autogynephilia”, spreading misunderstanding. “Even now, I still grieve for my lost husband and I think I shall always do so.” Oh, the poor woman! You have to be able to move on. Ending a marriage is always traumatic. Wallowing like this, “many years later”, is deeply unhealthy for you and your children.
She admits her ex-spouse pays maintenance for the children, so her account of the trans woman’s chaotic lifestyle may be exaggerated. I would not trust her to give a clear understanding of transition, because she projects all the blame on her former partner.
The FAQs encourage a complete inability to deal with the situation in a healthy way. They say a woman whose husband cross dresses is a trans widow. It’s as if cross dressing is such a betrayal that the husband disappears.
“Isn’t the term offensive? Many actual widows understand that the analogy is appropriate.” “What about the women who are happy with their trans woman husbands? We are here if and when their situation changes.” They are modelling a complete denial of the trans experience. Nothing can be admitted which might show that the cis woman was at all at fault- except, perhaps, for initially going along with the trans woman’s transition. The trans woman is called a man, a pervert, a betrayer.
Who runs the site? TinselAngel, a trans widow, who supports trans widows on Mumsnet, Twitter, and other channels. That is, an obsessive, who seeks validation of her obsession by drawing others in.
“Why didn’t you leave sooner? We understand how difficult it can be for a woman to leave a marriage.” So do I.
“Are you transphobic? No. We believe that our reality is as valid as that of our ex-husbands.” Er, um. In each of these stories, a blameless woman has been fooled into marriage and deceived throughout. When marriages end, the story is always more complex. Even when one person is wholly a victim, unable to do any better, the other is rarely entirely a wrongdoer. They can’t see this as transphobia, because they think they are entirely good, and transphobia sounds like a bad thing.
Challenged that “Autogynephilia doesn’t exist” she merely states “We don’t believe that we are propagating a myth.” If she cited various articles, as she could, claiming it exists, I would have more respect for her. “We are merely reporting our own experiences,” she says, as if only her perspective matters. That is the way to stew in grievance forever, and actively to prevent moving on.
“We will provide an evidence base,” she says. She only provides evidence of her own failure to move on, or to understand from another’s point of view.
It seems this TinselAngel is the main campaigner demanding that women stew in victimhood and rage rather than seek a healthy relationship with their ex-spouse or a way to move on. She tweets as Trans Widows’ voices, and writes articles for other groups. There is not enough demand, even on Ovarit, to have other specialist “trans widow” groups.
Uncommon Ground’s mission statement denies it simply attacks the Left, and says “The solutions for the world’s problems are to be found in compassion tempered by reason,” but Tinsel Angel’s article is in starkly Us and Them terms: she complains of feminist groups accepting trans women, and says she needs help. “Who is more important to the Womens’ Liberation movement: me or my ex-husband?” Ideally, both. However, she goes on to criticise WPUK for not being transphobic enough.
The trans widows site has twelve personal stories, of women raging against their trans ex-husbands. Any woman who can’t bear her husband’s cross dressing, or wish to transition, should avoid it like the plague.
To the wives of trans women, who want to leave them: you should not be pressured into supporting your husband if you don’t want to. Sex is usually an integral part of marriage, and you don’t have to stay if it changes. In Britain, your husband’s cross dressing or wish to transition would count as “unreasonable behaviour”, entitling you to a divorce. But try to maintain an amicable relationship, for the sake of any children and for your own sake. You are entitled to define your boundaries, but please do not get trapped in this profitless hatred.