Savage Love

His Girlish Figure

Hey, Dan:
I'm a 28-year-old woman. My husband is 30. We've been married four years and dated three years before getting married. We have a three-year-old child. Sexually, I'm of the "I'll try anything once" school. We've experimented a lot over the last seven years, trying bondage, role-playing, gender-bending play, water sports and so many positions I've lost count. When he said he liked seeing two women together because he liked to imagine he was one of them, I suggested bringing another woman into the picture. I was also pretty curious about making love with a woman.

The problem is, my husband wants to become a "she-male." I've suspected it for a couple of years, but he only came out to me about it a couple of weeks ago. I was supportive, telling him there was nothing to be embarrassed about, that we could play that way all he wanted. But surgery is a drastic step; furthermore, as I know from experience, large breasts are a strain on the neck and back and tend to be a liability if you lead an active life, as my husband does. He wants double-D breasts, which there's no way of concealing on his frame. He's over six feet tall and very slender.

Willingness to experiment is one thing, but I don't want to explain the change to our families, friends and co-workers. And I'm not crazy about our daughter seeing him that way. I've suggested easing into it by buying fake breasts he can wear to see how they feel. He says he wants the real thing. I just can't see sleeping with a guy who has breasts! When I told him I didn't think I could live with him if he had the surgery, he replied that he could never leave our daughter and me, but I don't want him to be miserable with us.

I don't want to seem selfish. I've always tried to be completely tolerant and open, and I feel guilty now for wanting to say no. Yet his desires are ruining our marriage and our family. Ninety percent of the time when we have sex, we have to pretend at some point that he's a girl, and I don't have the spine to say no. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. Sex isn't an act of love between a husband and wife anymore; I feel left out. Our daughter is autistic and requires a lot of attention and care, and I don't think I can handle this on my own.

Do you have any suggestions for compromises we could both live with? Please help, if you can.


Hey, Desperate:
Why should you compromise? You won the boobs argument already. You told your husband you couldn't live with him if he had boobs; he told you he would never leave you and your daughter. You played your trump card early--get boobs and I walk!--and he folded his hand. You win. Don't worry about whether he's miserable living without double-Ds; that's his problem, not yours. And don't worry about seeming selfish. Under the circumstances, you not only have a right to be selfish, you have a responsibility to your daughter to be selfish. If he wanted to be a she-male, the time to take that step--and get those implants--was before he had a wife, an autistic child and easily spooked in-laws.

His she-male fantasy will simply have to remain a fantasy. When he confessed his desires, you told him you would "play that way all he wanted." Well, it looks like he wants to play that way 90 percent of the time. That's clearly too often for your tastes, so you're going to have to withdraw the offer you made on confession night. On his own, he can indulge this fantasy as often he cares to, but he'll have to come to an understanding with you about how often you're willing to participate. You say you enjoy playing that way sometimes, so decide how often "sometimes" is--50 percent of the time? 20? 10?--and put him on fantasy rations. Be upbeat about the she-male thing when you do indulge him, and definitely invest in a good rack of fake breasts for play time.

Just between us girls, it may help your husband accept his flat-chested lot in life if you leave open the possibility of implants sometime down the road. Tell him boobs are out of the question for now, but perhaps he could do the she-male thing after your daughter's living independently, your in-laws are all dead, or someone comes up with inflatable implants. Believing he may get "the real thing" in the distant future may help him feel less miserable about staying with you in the here and now. With any luck, his desire for implants will pass before your daughter is on her own or your in-laws are dead.

Hey, Dan:
I am a very single, 41-year-old African-American butch lesbian who does not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use drugs. I've placed ads on the Internet and also in your newspaper seeking women who don't abuse. No one answered! I am honest, hardworking, attractive and fun to be with. I go to bars, but I just don't drink alcohol. Women do seem to enjoy my company, but they also enjoy living in an altered state. Do unaltered lesbians exist outside of AA meetings?

Single Butch

Hey, SB:
Here's a helpful hint: Folks who blather on about the evils of booze and cigs and dope are widely regarded as zero fun to hang out with even by other people who don't drink or do drugs. If all you have to offer someone is your unaltered status and that's all you ask in return, well, women aren't going to be lining up around the block to eat your pussy. By putting no drinking/smoking/drugs demands front and center in your personal ads, you may be scaring off hordes of unaltered lesbians who don't consider being unaltered the most important, interesting or attractive thing about themselves.

And, hey, just because you're unaltered doesn't mean your girlfriend can't be a little altered. Judy, a lesbian pal of mine, doesn't drink at all, but her girlfriend has to. "She's in the wine business," Judy said. "I wouldn't be with someone who abuses alcohol, and my girlfriend doesn't. She drinks like a normal person, like most people do, and it's not a problem."

Judy met her girlfriend doing volunteer work and suggests you consider options beyond bars and ads to meet women. "If this woman goes to lesbian bars to meet lesbians, she's going to meet lesbians who drink. She should get involved in women's activities or volunteer at women's or lesbian organizations. But she shouldn't rule out everyone who drinks."

Hey, Dan:
I am a nice-looking man who enjoys sex very much. Here is my question. I recently went to a party where I kinda met this man. The problem is that I really like this guy but I do not know how to tell him. Should I wait till we are drunk sometime and make a pass at him?

Terribly Shy

Hey, TS:
Sure, why not? It's always worked for me.

Dan Savage has been writing "Savage Love," a nationally syndicated sex-advice column, for eight years--enough time to become an expert on everything from women's orgasms to safe sex to abusive boyfriends to Hollywood blockbusters to gerbils. Have a question for him? Write: Savage Love, c/o Westword, P.O. Box 5970, Denver, CO 80217 or e-mail him at [email protected].

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