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Coverage was ‘old-school thinking on trans journeys’

To the editor:

One of the few times the Daily Hampshire Gazette has devoted its front-page feature to a trans issue came Dec. 7 with “Pain of Sex Change: Dissolving of a Family in Shutesbury,” by Steve Pfarrer, and — why am I surprised — it was negative.

I do not wish to discount the pain that Christine Benvenuto felt upon her divorce from her spouse, a transsexual woman who openly transitioned after years of marriage. My guess is that the split resulted from factors in addition to Joy Ladin’s gender identity, which was made known to Benvenuto several times during the marriage. However, I must strongly decry making transphobia front-page news, as you have done with this story, and by that I mean giving prime space to Benvenuto’s attitude that she watched her husband “die” (why not take a view that her spouse was “born” in her true self as a woman?), but most offensively, printing the horribly stereotypical comment that “a man in women’s clothes is creepy” or “sad.”

The truth of the matter is that Benvenuto’s spouse was a woman inside those clothes — a happy evolution, no, to be free?

The headline of this article is problematic, as is use of male pronouns for Ladin, and its theme is old-school thinking about trans journeys. First of all, “sex change” is a retro term no longer in use. Today, the process of medical transition is known as “gender confirmation surgery.” And I would think that enlightened readers would, by now, be tired of the “transsexuals cause so much angst to everybody” conclusion. How about walking a mile in Ladin’s high heels, instead, as she presents herself the way she was meant to be.

I am a trans man who has facilitated a monthly support meeting in Northampton, the East Coast FTM Group, for trans people and our partners for the past 20 years. I have seen numerous couples whose relationships not only survived a trans partner’s coming out, but also thrived.

Perhaps the next Gazette front-page story about what life is like for trans people could feature one of those couples or any one of thousands of our proud, productive and happy lives.

Bet Power


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