OF VIEW OF TRANSGENDERISM
of 'My Husband
In 2004 I read a review
of a book By Helen Boyd called ‘My Husband Betty’
I subsequently met Helen and Betty in Atlanta Georgia.
Her book is an outstandingly frank and researched book
that I consider to be the best most honest piece of writing
from a female partner to a tranny I have ever read. Furthermore
being a generation (or two) younger than me I can tell
you that these two people are a truly contemporary and
representative of a fresh wave of thinking. Helen runs
a web site for female partners to share their thoughts
and here I am thrilled to have a contribution from her
that could well be the ninth chapter of her eight chapter
When my husband Betty first
told me he liked to cross-dress, he told me a long distracting
story about one Halloween where he’d gone as Marie
Antoinette and his girlfriend at the time had gone as
Louis XVI. He was quite surprised that I didn’t
run in horror; in fact, I was amused, titillated, and
sure he was a fun date for Halloween.
Eventually he had to get
it through my thick head that his desire to cross-dress
wasn’t restricted to Halloween – that he’d
like go out cross-dressed. I didn’t see any problem
there, either: we live in New York City, home of Wigstock,
Charles Busch, and the most fabulous drag queens in the
world! There were fetish clubs, drag clubs, kink clubs,
cabaret clubs, female impersonators… I mean, this
is not only the city that doesn’t sleep, but the
city that couldn’t give a damn. Don’t steal
anyone’s cab and they don’t care how you’re
For a long time, we went
out to club nights promoted by Chi Chi Valenti and her
partner Daddy, and we found a place where a het woman
and her cross-dressed boyfriend fit right in. We didn’t
need "support groups" because we had no problems with
his cross-dressing. I wasn’t shocked, or morally
appalled, and really didn’t have to get used to
anything. I’d had friends who’d done drag,
and it didn’t take a lot for me to be okay with
it sexually, either: when you put a pair of panties on
your boyfriend and he responds with both gratitude and
lust… well let’s just say I don’t look
a gift horse in the mouth. From where I was standing,
it just seemed like I’d found a perfect way to decide
when we had sex!
Then one day I went shopping
for a pair of summer sandals. I am not a shoe shopping
type; in fact, I’m not a shopping type. I buy a
pair of summer sandals, and I wear them until they’re
worn, and then I buy a new pair and do it all over again.
Ditto with my clothes, coats, bags, and makeup. So for
me, this was entirely a utility trip: my job was to go
in, get the sandals I needed, not pay too much, and leave
in as short a time as possible. And I did.
When we left, shoe box
in tow, Betty was awfully quiet. Downcast. I asked what
was wrong, and for the first time, I understood that his
cross-dressing was not the subversive, kinky fun I’d
thought it was. It was about something else, something
deeper, something difficult. We walked for a long time
that night, with him explaining how deeply jealous he
was that I could walk into a shoe store and buy a pair
of pretty slides as if it was no big deal. He longed,
he said, for the ability to walk in and buy pretty shoes
and know that he belonged in that store the way I had.
Again I explained that
we lived in New York City (Betty had only moved to NYC
a few months before we met) and that he could, if he wanted,
go in and buy a pair of pretty shoes. The store I’d
gone to was on the corner of Broadway and 8the Street
– famous for shoes and clubs and the locus of downtown
culture. Right down the block was the famous store Patricia
Field – which carried pumps up to size 12. I told
him he had to stop being shy, to understand that no one
cared (especially those making the sale), and go get himself
whatever shoes he wanted.
Sometimes I’m a little
too helpful, a little too pat. He finally got me to stop
being so helpful and explained that he wanted to buy those
shoes as a girl. And finally there was something in his
voice, something uncertain and full of fear. We talked
more; we walked more. That night, we walked across the
Brooklyn Bridge, getting to see the beauty of downtown
Manhattan reflected in the East River, the squat buildings
of Brooklyn beckoning us on.
And that night, I found
out my husband’s desire to wear women’s clothes
was about his desire to be a woman, not just look like
That’s not the kind
of revelation you deal with right away. He had said it
out loud, and I’d heard it, and then we were both
happy enough to pretend nothing had happened. We were,
after all, still planning our wedding!
So we let it go, and we
kept going out with Betty en femme, and as long as we
didn’t talk about it, it was okay. I started doing
more research – research that would lead, eventually,
to me writing My Husband Betty – in order to find
out what I could do, and whether we were doomed.
In a sense, I’m still
doing that research. Betty has not transitioned. She doesn’t
take hormones, and she doesn’t cross-live, either.
My Husband Betty Book
By Helen Boyd
Available from WayOut Publishing
£ 14.50 inc UK p&p
after Helen met the man who was to be her husband he told
her that he cross-dressed. "It has been a struggle
to come to an accommodation with this side of his nature".
The book begins as a journey of self-discovery. Helen
explores with clarity and modernity, mixing academic rigor
with intimate detail. Through Helen we meet other trannies
and their partners, transsexuals, drag queens, fetishests.
Helen pulls no punches in discussing everything including
the much avoided sexual practises of these people. She
concludes .. "My husband is beautiful as a man or
a woman, but unbelievably beautiful when he's something
in between." And goes on to say that other minorities
like black, gay, women, struggle for civil rights and
the next group to join that struggle is the transgendered.
VERY highly recommended.