One of our friends reached out recently to let us know that after 63 years of living in a woman’s body and feeling like a guy, he’s decided the time has come for him to actually become that guy. Cancer robbed him of his female organs long since so the change won’t involve any surgeries; just a slight difference in his name and some hormone therapy. He was very open about the whole thing and encouraged us to ask any questions we might have since he’s comfortable talking about all aspects of the procedure. I thought about it for a while, pondering the physical, mental and emotional aspects of such a change, and realized the only thing I was truly curious about was how his wife of 33 years was going to feel when she realized she was now sharing a bed with someone who farts?
Because, come on, I don’t know about your husbands, but mine tosses and turns and grunts and groans and snorts and snores and emits all sorts of noises and aromas when he’s in bed. Of course, he tells me that I do the same thing, which I disagree with; but if it’s true, it may actually prove my point. Because just recently I read a fascinating article in Scientific American about a breakthrough study describing the discovery of new cells – some of which include the Y chromosome – in the brains of mothers after pregnancy. Not just cells from their child in their bloodstreams, which has been known for a while, but actually in their brains. Which would totally explain any male pattern behavior from me in bed, right? (Read the article here. It’s truly fascinating). But I don’t think I would have actually known this kind of sleep pattern was typical of guys without recently paying a visit to my mother, where I happened to share a bed with a female friend. I knew this was going to be the case before I got there and I’d been wondering how I was going to react when my friend was gassy or noisy or tumbled over onto my side of the bed or robbed me of the blankets – all the stuff that I was used to – so I was amazed to discover that she just lay down on her side of the bed every night and slept. Soundly. Not a peep out of her. All night long.
Which begs the question – how is someone who’s been used to such an unobtrusive slumber companion going to respond to the guy’s way of sleeping? Or, for that matter, respond to the disconnect that happens between a man’s mind and his tongue, leaving him to say whatever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants to? Or the stuff with the remote – you know, that he can’t even let it be on one program for two seconds before he’s gotta, gotta, gotta see what else is on offer? I even remember my (new) guy friend telling me, back when he was a woman, that he got a chuckle out of watching the young granddaughters in his family coming to terms with the fact that boys could be irritating – like horseflies. And now he’s going to become one of them?! What about his wife?
Then I remembered one of my favorite moments on screen. It was in “Prelude to a Kiss,” based on the stage play of the same name by Craig Lucas, where a young bride (Meg Ryan) lets her spirit change places with that of an elderly man (Sydney Walker). The bride’s new husband (Alec Baldwin) spends a lot of the film trying to work out why his wife doesn’t seem like the young woman he fell in love with until finally, he tracks down her spirit in the body of this old man. Overcome with emotion at having found her, he takes the old man in his arms and kisses him. I found that beautiful. It was such a statement of love transcending the physical. Given how much our bodies change over time, that’s a lovely thing to contemplate. Especially as we creep towards old age, where health issues could transform us completely. To think that we might be with someone who can see beyond those changes, into the spirit of the person they’ve loved for so long, is pretty special.
So the truth is, I don’t really have to ask my friend this question about how his wife of 33 years is going to react to the man in bed next to her because inside that man is the woman she fell in love with. Plus she’ll probably love him all the more for finding a way to be completely at ease with his true identity.
That said, all bets are off if he starts in with the ‘pull my finger’ stuff.