Sex and Gender

I finished reading the widely acclaimed book, She’s Not The Man I Married, by Helen Boyd. And like most books I read on the topic it takes us on a journey of self discovery. There is more than sexuality, gender, marriage, romance, children, family, or wok involved. When any one of us look more deeply at what we accept of ourselves and others and attempt to widen the lens a lot of emotions will come to the surface.

I have more than a few clients to are curious about transitioning, some just cross dresser, and others who are in the process of transitioning. There are so many intricate levels combined with the discussion of personal sexuality and gender understanding that most times we find ourselves with more questions than answers. Furthermore, when a client of mine has a spouse, as many of them do, the complexities become almost mind boggling.

There was one specific part of Helen Boyd’s book that really made me smile. It reads ” We are a heterosexual couple who are simultanesouly a butch/femme couple… Coming from a straight world, where the culture assumed that Betty had to be butch because she was a man and I was femme because I am a woman. A relationship based on roles for the relationship and not the system around them … gave me permission to figure out what my own gender is all about.”

The author points out an amazing twist that not only did her husband become her wife she (the author) also was always the more masculine one in the relationship. In stereotypical lesbian terms, the author was butch and her husband/wife was femme. One can see just how sexuality and gender are fluid and finding a balance for whatever works for those involved is what is key.  There is no set rules, it comes down to what makes those involved happy.

As a therapist, I am not here to tell anyone how to believe, feel, or think. I am here to help each client meet their goals. For a good number of clients the dreams they have can appear at odds. Yet, as with most things in life there is more than the black or white and we tend to live in the gray. I don’t convince clients to transition, cross dress, or be gay nor do I convince their partners/family to accept a client’s desire to do any of the above. I am here to help each person work through the confusing process of parting ways or staying together with as little pain as possible.

Beyond all else I have found with working with alternative sexuality clients, is that they are brave. They are willing to risk it all to find out what makes them real. They have an honest desire to create a life for themselves (and with others) that provides full ownership of self.  More often then not, I am awe-struck by the courage that an alternative sexuality client has even by walking in the door to come in and talk with me.

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