Thursday
Feb132014

A Mrs. G. Social Inquiry...Let's Discuss

Photo by Star Foreman

 

Hi, Heather,
 
I found this article today, and thought it would be an interesting topic of conversation at the Manor:
 
 
Full disclosure, the woman is a colleague of mine, I've known her for a couple of years in that capacity. I did not know anything about her personal life.  She's a wonderful colleague, and I think she and her husband are brave to "out" themselves like this. I'm also proud that our common employer is supportive.
 
Plus, I think that their relationship as depicted in the article, is really sweet!
 
I think the Derf community could have a very rich and interesting discussion about this.
Mrs. G. is not allowed to reprint the article here, so you really do have to go and read it. She's been thinking about how she would deal with this for the last hour and she's curious what all of you have to say. She knows this group can be honest without insulting. Let's talk!

 

 

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Reader Comments (35)

OK, I'll admit this made me uncomfortable when I was first reading it because, of course, I was projecting it onto me and Mr. G. I agree that going day one in to the relationship with full knowledge and acceptance is the way to go--I, too, wouldn't want to find women's clothes hidden in the bedroom. That would just make it seem like a shameful secret. Fifteen years ago this might have been a deal breaker -- actually, it probably would have been a straight-up deal breaker for me. I was young and not so knowledgeable about the spectrum of sexuality. Now that I've invested so many years in to my marriage and I love my husband so much, I don't think I would want to hamper him from being who he feels he needs to be in any way -- life's short and I want the best for him. So I'm pretty sure I could come around, figure we'd just add one more boxcar to our crazy train of a life. I'm sure it would make me uncomfortable until our family and friends got used to it, but I could deal. One thing that would really piss me off though (and I'm not kidding) is that he wouldn't have to shop at Lane Bryant. That would fry my ass. If I think others should live and let live, I think I owe the same respect to Mr. G.

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

It's a little hard to wrap my head around, but I do know that it takes all kinds in this world and most people would be very surprised to know what others do behind closed doors. Out in public, to be honest, I'd be a little concerned for his physical well being. Where I live, there are people who will stare and then get on with things, but there are ones who aren't particularly understanding and for whom gender rules are very clearly defined. Oh well, live and let live.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLanna

I can't speak to the "what if" this happened in the marriage I currently inhabit...but I can say that if I were to come upon it now, in my present day mindset, I would avoid a relationship like this one. If I knew from day 1, and was given an option to take it or leave it, I would not take it. (say if I were single, going into a relationship like this one).

I do not judge any single person for how they dress, or how they are comfortable in their skin. It is not up to me. It is up to them. Life is too short.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Not gonna lie.. I don't know that I could be in a relationship with a Cross Dresser. I don't mind the cross dressing, I just don't know if it would work for me.

But I really like that they have such a strong relationship. That's what I want. And if that comes along with some things that are out of my wheelhouse, I think that would be okay. I think its great for people to be allowed to fully realize who they are in a safe setting.

But then again, I'm not married so I cant speak to what this would actually mean to me. I'd like to think that I can help creating a relationship that is as nice as this one.....

Their relationship seems stronger for them having accepted this facet of it. I bet a lot of people could learn a lesson about acceptance and caring from them.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRegina

I love my husband for who he is - however that may be, whatever that may look like.

As a society, we're quite comfortable with women crossing cultural gender lines. Hell, we even have styles we refer to as "boyfriend" without any degree of consternation except among those who adhere to more strict categories for religious reasons. It's accepted that girls wear guys' football jerseys or letter jackets or class rings. A girl wearing her boyfriend or husband's sweatshirt or shirt is supposed to be sexually attractive according to our cultural narrative.

Why the inconsistency? Why is one a problem and the other "normal?"

About the only thing I can figure is that it's not ok for a man to be seen as a woman because that would be seen as "less than" within our culture and that many of the examples go back to a man being able to stake his claim/own his female significant other. I'm not saying that everyone sees it in these terms consciously (though there are those that do), but I think it's one of those ingrained cultural assumptions.

I'm in my 30s, though, so generationally I think it's less of an issue just because roles/cultural lines were already looser. I predict that this will become less of an issue as time goes on.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermamaraby

We hear a lot about unconditional love but I think we are witnessing it here. And his work colleagues...AMAZING!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeepsaloola

Meh. I admit to being a bit uncomfortable with this. It's absolutely fine with me that their relationship includes this. But for me - no.

I'm thinking, and feeling also uncomfortable, about the fact that as a society we are fine with women dressing like men. And I HATE the "women can't be with younger men but it's fine for men to date/marry women young enough to be their daughters" shit. So I admit to being inconsistent. I just can't get past feeling that a man who prefers to dress as a woman is completely not-sexy to me. And sexual attraction is an important part of marriage.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBriget

Well, it IS different, that's for sure. I would like to think I could be open-minded enough to try and see the big picture if I were faced with evaluting a situation like this. After all, what good is the "manliest" man if he's a liar or a cheat?
It would also be a little hypocritical of me to get hung up on clothes. I wear men's clothing all the time - shirts, jeans, work boots. Mostly for practical purposes, but still. It's only clothing, not a character flaw.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter~annie

Thank you for posting this, Mrs. G!

I have to say, when I saw the headline of the story, I thought, oh, hey, I know someone named that, how funny that there's a celebrity who shares her name - because I thought it was going to be about some celebrity arts couple.

But when I read it, I realized it was about the woman with whom I used to exchange monthly financial reports for two years. I didn't really spend a lot of time thinking about how she handled learning this about her husband, what really blew me away was to think about how they handled TOGETHER the act of going public.

And so very public! It's one thing to go out to the supermarket together. It's another thing to come out at work! And yet another thing to have your picture, names and employer name printed in the newspaper!

I just thought, hey, they are out in the open. Bravely. That impresses me. I hope their public notoriety doesn't backfire on them.

BTW, I have not met her husband, although I suppose I should go say hello at the library. It's probably not hard to recognize him.

<I>One thing that would really piss me off though (and I'm not kidding) is that he wouldn't have to shop at Lane Bryant. That would fry my ass.</I> BWHA!!!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow

I read it and am still digesting. I find their whole manner and relationship truly amazing. I don't know how I would deal. I would hope I could be loving and accepting and pave the way for my partner to have a complete life.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of sacrifice only being hinted at in the article. They both have given up a veneer of normalcy that is easy to underestimate until you lose it or need it. It is a tough exchange they have made, that all partners make in all relationships, but their scenario is extreme. I accept this ____ because you are/do/say _____ . I accept you are lazy because you are kind, I accept you aren't social because we work well together, I accept your idiosyncrasies because I know I have my own. But this is a BIG thing and will change how they interact with the world every day for all their days.

But, oh goodness, I hope good things for them. Kind easy days for them because they aren't hurting a soul in the world.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermolly

I think that if I were going in to a relationship today, with all I have learned in my life, and I was fully aware, I could be OK with it. Since becoming single recently, I've realized my views are much more flexible than they were even just a few years ago. Live and elt live, and if you love someone, let them be themselves.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

I have to say; the one thing that caught my attention in this article, the thing I can't stop thinking about, is the Living Library thing. Where you can check a person out for 30 minutes to have a conversation? How cool is that? Every town needs that.

I think most people are part of a group that they feel is misunderstood. I bet they would love a chance to explain what they are really all about. A transvestite, a priest, a bat boy, an unschooler? Anyone!

I love it.

As for the topic at hand? I'm glad they are so happy and I am fine with the trangendered people I know (I don't think I know any transvestites who aren't transgendered.) But if I was looking to get into a relationship, I wouldn't be attracted to a transvestite. I don't think it's gross or anything like that, but I don't think blonde men are gross either and I'm not attracted to them.

Peace,
Sharon

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

I think mamaraby has a point. We can accept women in men's clothing why are we so uncomfortable with this?...because we come with all sorts of preconceived ideas about men and their roles.... and we worry so much about other people perceptions.

Can't say how I would approach this in my life, I haven't had to.
I know how I would treat him if he served me at the library, with the same friendly interest I treat everyone. But...perhaps I would thinking oh my as I walked away, and my mind would be a little more opened.

What I like about this story is they found another kindred spirit in each other and that was more important than what other people thought.
Whatever floats their boat.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah J

This story leaves me wondering what it really means for him to be wearing women's clothing. Clothing styles are all socially constructed --years ago men wore tights and tunics, which are basically like dresses. So what does it mean to him? Is he wearing them because he's more comfortable in them? Because they make him feel as if he's a different gender? I'd never really thought about the motivation behind this before. What does it do for him?

As far as having a relationship with a cross-dresser -- I don't know that I can really judge myself. Relationships are about people --you fall in love with a person, not a gender or political stance. Unless I'd been in this position, I wouldn't know how I felt about it.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCassi

I am appreciating the point of it being acceptable for women to to dress like men. I wear men's shirts all the time. I do think it would help if Mr. G. started out with flannel and denim (his fabrics of choice) dresses so that we could ease into the process.

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

We have friends who have a very open relationship.
It is very likely that he will show up in a long skirt when they go out.

He is an amazingly secure individual,with his ability to dress and act the way he likes.
He is very supportive of all the people in his life and encourages many to be themselves and to look at life through a positive eye.

It did make me step back at first, but the longer I know him the more I think he is great person.
No worries on my part.
I have friends and family that walk many different paths.
I did marry someone who is not going to dress up in a dress so I don't have to cross that bridge myself.
I am not sure how I would feel.

Then again I am most comfortable in jeans and a shirt...

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynot

Hmmmm... What about men in kilts? You know, Mel Gibson in Braveheart, centuries of tradition of bagpipes, plaid skirts and sexy accents.

Maybe it's that the dress is a cultural uniform that we (in American culture) have assigned to a specific gender. When women started wearing "men's" clothes regularly in the workplace in the 80s and 90s, did some/many men feel uncomfortable about us wearing their cultural uniform? Not that we were asking their permission mind you...

I think it's great that they have such a positive relationship and support. I also agree that over the next 20-30 years, attitudes about gender roles and sexual preference will continue to evolve and be more open minded than in the past.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie in AZ

Also, the Living Library idea is great! I'd love to go to one but don't think there would be one in conservative, republican AZ anytime soon.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie in AZ

halfway through reading this, I thought...I only wear shirts and pants. Ever. hmmm. Why did that never cross my mind before? Is it because I don't care? My husband takes much more care with his appearance than I do with mine...and we both wear pants and shirts each day...what if we were both wearing dresses and we both cared equally how we appeared? or if, more traditionally, I cared how I appeared and he didn't?? Life is varied and weird.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

My first thought was that he is a great dresser and I'd probably enjoy being friends with them. They seem like nice people and a nice couple.
As others have already pointed out, we all make concessions when sharing our lives with other people -- be they roommates, spouses, or even children. There are things about my own husband that drive me a little nuts (and I know I drive him nuts as well) but the good outweighs the bad. I wouldn't want cross-dressing to be sprung on me at this point, after 26 years of marriage. However, if it was introduced slowly and we talked with that kind of open communication, I'd take a husband in a dress before ever letting him go.
And honestly? I'd just be envious if my husband looked better in a dress than me... and he probably would, darn it!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

Mrs. G., I am giggling over the thought of Mr. G. wearing a denim jumper and looking like the stereotypical homeschooling mom of yesteryear.
I once had a flannel dress and it was fantastically comfortable!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

As someone who is single and assuming that at some point I will have to navigate the dating world again I have to say that this would be a deal breaker for me. Not because I have anything against it but because I'm selfish and wouldn't want to deal with stares/comments/etc. out in public.

The first 10 years of adulthood I was able to navigate in and out of restaurants, stores, life, etc. without people paying much attention to me. And then I get this awesome kid but now nothing is a quick trip because people stop to say hi or she is so cute (or try to touch my child!) no less than three times when we go anywhere. I like living under the radar so the change with having a kid is more than enough to get used to. There are times where I avoid going to the store until after I have dropped her off at school and make a quick run in to the grocery store before I start work just to avoid all the small talk and garbage.

So basically I'm just selfish.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTonya

I loved what Molly said about the exchanges we decide to make to continue our relationships. Everyone has a different deal breaker. I think my husband is sexy. Would I still think he was sexy if he dressed up as a woman occasionally. Definitely! But what if it was 24/7? I'm not sure. Intellectually, I want to say "Yes!" but that is not how attraction works. I am glad it works for this couple. I wish them nothing but the best!

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterN and Em's mom

I"m happy that our society seems to be growing up a bit and not so paranoid about all things sexual. OK. I guess that's wishful thinking, what with politics and all of that, but I'm delighted that this guy is able to live his live and not be pilloried. I fervently hope he is able to continue on with minimal discomfort and stares and discrimination.
And I hope that SHE is getting all she needs from her relationship with him, and that the love and good vastly outweighs the (somewhat inevitable, I think) trouble and discomfort they'll encounter.

For me, I'm reasonably sure I'd be uncomfortable if my SO/husband were a cross-dresser, at least at first, and mostly for selfish reasons. But I'd hope that I'd be able to "man up" (see what I did there?) and be fully supportive.

I have gone through phases where I was more comfy in maxi-dresses, and some decades where I wore a lot of suit jackets and fedoras. If THAT is ok, then him in a jumper and tights should be ok.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkate in MI

First impression is that it wouldn't bother me a bit. I've spent enough time with men who wear "women's" clothing in various amounts that it feels normal. I think what would be hard for me to get past is the mental correlation of cross-dressing with being gay. I'd just not trust it at first.
And, to be honest, having a husband who LIKED to look good? that would be a nice change . . .

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterilyanna

My first boyfriend in high school was a cross dresser. Yes, even at school. I was so in love! I didn't care one bit. I grew up in a place where letting your freak flag fly is not that unusual. If my husband of 15 years decided to cross dress, I would be fine with it. He works in construction so I might be the only one though.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStuck

I am very happy for them and glad that they have a strong relationship that fulfills both of them.

I'm not sure I'm that strong. I'd like to say "No problem!" But I'm not sure I could. I'm not sure I could get past the various mental blocks and images I've been raised with. I hope that for the right person I could put aside any misgivings and I guess if I couldn't do that, one of us wasn't the "right" person, huh?

I did love the line about dressing like a woman but shopping like a man. I tend to do the same thing regarding certain items. If they fit well and I like them, I'll keep buying and buying something until they quit making them.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I feel hesitant to comment because I think I'm in the minority. No judgment on anyone else -- if you're all right with this in your relationship, I'm glad it works for you and it doesn't make me uncomfortable being around you. But for me and any relationship, it's a big nope, nope, nope (insert the GIF of that octopus scurrying away).

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNot Beehive

Wow, how strong those two are! I'm not that strong, especially considering that it would not go well where I live. Although I see men in other countries in dress like garments and have no problem at all. I guess if it was a 'dress' that was actually made for a man I could handle it better than if he went shopping in a woman's dress store. After all, I don't buy my pants and jeans in the man's department but wear items that have been tailored for a woman's body. Not sure why that makes a difference to me but I must be more strict with my societal expectations than I thought. If I encountered this man in public it would not bother me at all. People certainly wear less appropriate clothing out in public (in my opinion) so that would not be a problem.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBamaCarol

Cross dressing might seem like a deal breaker, but it might also be hard to know that cross dressing was the real deal breaker if the guy wasn't also emotionally or intellectually or physically attractive otherwise. I could totally imagine being swept away by a charismatic, charming, kind, smart, funny, handsome guy who has the strength to be so vulnerable. Cross dressing might be uber sexy on the right guy. And I could also see how the Internet might really help two people get to know each other before they have a chance to judge each other on such a visual issue. That could be pretty beneficial for a strong start to a relationship.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdah

I think it works because she made the choice going in. I can't imagine it being for me, but I am glad they have one another and people are cool with it.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

I read the article early this afternoon and I've been thinking about it ever since...

I am generally of the "live and let live" school of thinking and part of my reaction is why is this news? I mean, I get it, but IMO it's akin to Emma Thompson wearing flats at this year's SAG awards. Remarkable because it is outside of the norm but it's just a choice this man and this couple have made. I am VERY glad his choice is being accepted by his employer and coworkers but it makes me sad that this situation is remarkable. I want us humans to get to the point where differences in the way we look/act/dress/etc. just don't warrant this "look, here's something different!" attention.

Would I be attracted to a transvestite? I would like to think that the guy's personality and charm would be enough but I just don't know if I could be turned on by a man in a dress. As Sharon said, I am not attracted to skinny men. There's nothing wrong with skinny men, they just don't trip my trigger, and I think it would be the same with a transvestite.

A minor irritation - what in the world does the length of her hair ("shortish") or the fact that she doesn't wear makeup have to do with anything?? His hairstyle and choice to wear makeup or not are germane to the article because it is about his choices about his appearance, but it's not about hers. (Their hair appears to be about the same length. I do think it's funny that hers is considered on the short side and his on the long.)

I love the Living Library thing. I am a teaching assistant for a diversity class this semester and the concept of the Living Library fits right into what we are teaching. In fact, the students have to complete a project where they spend time interacting with members of a cultural group with which they have some kind of issue. "Checking out" a "living book" could be an amazing, enlightening experience.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterViolet

Perhaps the last comment. Here's a link to some great talks by Grayson Perry, a highly recognized artist in England and Europe (and even here) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/reith . Now, his dresses are rather dowdy, I think, but that's his preference (along with the little girl look at times). His wife tends to wear quite stunning outfits. Their daughter doesn't seem to notice. Clothes are covering, not much more. Some of us have fun with them, some just trying to stay warm.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternaomi d

I really enjoyed the article, particularly the living library. I find their bond as a couple fantastic, to be loved like that is amazing. I have no problem with any of it. But Debbie knew his dressing preference before marriage and before living together. For me 18 years into it, I would be more than shocked. If I had discovered it beforehand, I have to admit for me personally, it would have been something of a turn off. But that is a total personal preference. I am very attracted to my husband because he is traditionally masculine. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't part of the initial attraction. That being said, dressing preference would not have made me not like or love him as a person, maybe just not romantically involved.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSalty Mama

I love the part where she says, if your flaw is that you track what dresses you wear on a spreadsheet. .. Right? We all have flaws, can you imagine if we all had to wear them outside instead of in our head? I gotta put on my anger or temper or greed or judgements today. I am a terrible housekeeper, what if I had to wear that? Please know I am not calling wearing dresses a flaw. Women's clothes are beautiful, who could blame him.

I also LOVE the don't judge a book by it's cover day! What a fantastic idea!

Bravo to them for sharing all of this in such a public way.

February 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather W.

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