2017 SO Program

2017 Esprit Theme for SO’s and Couples

Click on

and Revel in this truth…“WE ARE FAMILY!”

You might be coming to your first Esprit, and find yourself thinking “Family?  What happened to mine?”  That is an understandable feeling you have, whether you are the SO or transgender person.  The changing family dynamics can feel unsettling, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Esprit is here as your support system.  If you have previously attended Esprit and been a part of our SO/Couples program, your sense of what’s happening in your family has possibly been evolving, and that, too, in normal.

Whether you are married or partnered (and your partnership might total more than two people) with an FtM, MtF, be they crossdressers, transexual or genderqueer, Esprit’s SO/Couples program is designed to help you get answers to your questions, resources to help, build friendships to encourage you, hear you, and make sure you know – you are NOT alone!

Attending Esprit usually offers many insights, whether you are a newbie or a long-timer. Bottom line? Everyone is welcome…because WE ARE ALL FAMILY…and we all have value.

2017 Daily Groups:

Tuesday 9:00-11:00 am: WW Questions and more questions- WHAT and WHY are leaving me feeling confused.

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the transgender partner, whether you are male, female, or questioning.

What is going on?
Why is this happening now?
What will happen to me?
What will happen to our kids?
What will happen to us – what happened to the love of my life?
What will happen to our FAMILY?

It is easy to feel left in the dark and isolated as the non-transgender partner or spouse, and left wondering, “What is happening to my family?”

First of all, even before any questions are asked or answered, we want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in your journey.  This is a safe haven for your exploration of what it means to be in relationship with a transgender person, whether they are FtM, MtF, crossdresser, transexual, or genderqueer.  Your partner/spouse may be new at dealing with their feelings as well, and might not even know the answers to some of your questions, or theirs.  Your partner/spouse might still be on a journey to discover their own truth about being transgender.  It’s challenging to answer your questions when they aren’t sure of the answers to their own questions.

Our intention is that you feel heard, acknowledged, appreciated.  Join us, whether you are a newbie SO or have attended Esprit in the past.

Tuesday 11:30-1:00: SO Luncheon (for SO's only)

Tuesday 1:30-3:30 pm:  Questions you’ve been afraid to ask.

For transgender couples (all parties must attend)

Let’s face it.  There are questions on both sides.  But NOT ASKING is not a good option. Asking your questions in front of other couples (or each other), however, can sometimes feel “too transparent” until there is a level of trust created.  This group is for providing that safety net for both of you (or perhaps there are more than two in this equation).

Our commitment is to offer a safe and supportive environment for meeting and interacting with other couples as you give space to one another.  Let this be the beginning of creating that trusting environment by week’s ending.

You have a special opportunity. Hearing the questions or others can sometimes trigger your own personal questions that have remained hidden beneath the surface.

Listening to the questions of others can give you new perspective on your own status as a couple.  Though each relationship is unique, you will hear some common threads.  No matter if you have had/not had opportunities to spend time with other couples, you can always discover something about yourself in the questions and stories of others, and vice versa.

Wednesday 9:00-11:00 am: Outside Appearances and Inner Realities - The pains/joy of being an SO trying to figure out the meaning of “family.”

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the transgender partner, whether you are male, female, or questioning.

No two individuals are exactly alike. No two couples are exactly alike. No two families are exactly alike.  And neither are any two journeys exactly alike, relative to your partner/spouse being transgender.

There are both pains and joy.  These pains and joys, however, are opposite sides of the same coin.  And that family coin has value…join us and discover what is new and possible for your family.

Explore in a safe place your feelings about your personal pains and the joys within the dynamics of your changing family.

Wednesday 1:30-3:30: Guilt, Shame, and Fear: Confronting the Emotional Legacy of

Transphobia on both sides of the coin for Couples…and how it impacts your family.

For transgender couples (all parties must attend)

Transphobia strikes before it is cured. No couple escapes its grip initially, but all can be healed.

It rarely strikes only one in the partnership, so the transphobia of both sides of this coin must be confronted, with those two sides being the SO and the partner/s.

It’s time to assess the damage from mis-guided information and emotions that harm the relationship.  Let’s face it.  We live in a transphobic society.  And, yet, how we approach what society generally feels means facing “guilt, fear and shame” head on.

Once again, no two families are alike.  Each couple is unique and wonderful…and yet different. Some questions that might come up…

How do we manage our negative emotions (from each person) without abandoning the feelings of friends and loved ones as they make their own adjustments.

How do we own our fears/frustrations without damaging the other and our relationship as a couple?

Your pains/joys as a couple will be different than those of other couples…and sometimes, they will be similar.  But…they are never the “same,” because they aren’t YOU, and YOU aren’t them.

Learning to take personal responsibility vs co-opting others is also important.  Using others as an excuse for not living fully authentically, and blaming them when you cannot move through your own transphobia, will never give you the freedom you desire in life.  Transphobia impacts all of us, and only you can change YOUR journey.

Either way, let’s celebrate your being a couple and let’s celebrate your family Join us and share your pains/joy so that each partner/spouse can learn from one another and each couple can also learn from the other.  Together, we can reinvent “family” and be better for it.

Thursday 9:00-11:00: MG, My partner is Trans…Crossdresser? Transexual? Genderqueer?  Now what happens to my FAMILY?

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the transgender partner, whether you are male, female, or questioning.

It can feel truly stressful as you attempt the “transgender dance” for the first time…or for the umpteenth time.  The questions never seem to stop and sometimes feel as if they will never be answered.  Who is she/he?  Crossdresser? Transexual? Genderqueer?  And depending on who she/he or he/she is, who am I?

When cross-dressers talk about coming “out of the closet,” the spouses often find themselves put into a closet of isolation as they don’t know whether to share with friends/family because it is “part-time.”

When a person decides to become MtF or FtM, you sometimes aren’t ready for that “full-time’ status because that blows the door off your closet whether you like it or not.  You are then faced with what is sometime a life-altering decision about your family, as well as what defines “family.”

Join us to discuss your fears about what’s happening in and to your family, and how you can best cope in a safe environment.

Thursday 11:30-1:00 Couples Luncheon (for couples)

Thursday 1:30-3:30:  Family Issues with Trans Couples: Terms of Endearment

For transgender couples (all must attend)

Family dynamics are shifting…how do you speak to one another as a couple?  Is it the same?  Is it different? If so, how is it different?

How do you speak to friends and family about the “other,” with the other being either the SO or the trans person.

How do your children speak to you when you have disclosed to them your true identify?

Speaking the unspoken feels challenging…for good reason.  Change is something most people resist vs. embrace.  But the resistance exacts its toll.

Keep in mind that gender identity, which you probably considered (like most of society) to be binary just “ain’t necessarily so.”  Likewise, relationships aren’t necessarily binary either.

You might keep your relationship exactly as it has always been…and then again, you might create a new identity in relationship that transforms the one you have.  Only you as a couple can determine what works for you.  And once you figure out what works for you, how do you communicate to others if/when you have varying terms of endearment.  If you’ve ever wanted to have this discussion, but were as afraid of the outcome as you were of the discussion, this is a safe place to have it.

Friday 9:00-11:00: The impact of the “guilt, fear, shame” on your family.

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the transgender partner, whether you are male, female, or questioning.

Many thoughts and questions can arise, causing you to feel choked by the triad…the one of guilt, fear and shame.  This often brings on a entirely new set of questions.

What did I do wrong?
What could I have done differently?
How can I save my family?

Though these are normal questions, let’s correct the “record” that is perhaps spinning in your head. You didn’t do anything wrong and there’s nothing you could have done differently (in terms of your partner being transgender since you didn’t “cause” their transgender status).

Now, there might be things you can choose to do differently in the future if you don’t like some of the results that are happening in your relationship.  That is worth exploring.  And there might be things you want to ask of your transgender partner in the future.  That is worth exploring.

Most important is to look at the impact of negative emotions caused by “guilt, fear and shame.”

Name them, claim them, move through them, create a new and healthy journey…and family!

Friday 2:00–4:00:  Speaking the unspeakable…New Directions and Lifestyle Decisions: Asexual, Divorce, Polyamory, and Others

For transgender couples (all must attend)

WHAT Family?  Yes, it might feel as if there is nothing left of your family…that is, the family which you easily recognized and had become so familiar to you. What IF, however, your family becomes MORE than you ever dreamed was possible?  What if you have a greater intimacy (emotionally/physically/spiritually/whatever is your “more”) with your spouse/partner? What if you relationships with other family members actually become BETTER because you are authentically engaged with them on a personal level? What if your new definition of “family” brings your more peace and joy than you thought imaginable? This is possible…and it’s possible because you dare to believe it’s possible. Your relationship/s can become transformational vs transactional. Join us and discover the possibilities.

Saturday 9:00-11:00: How to cope with and embrace this “NEW FAMILY?”

For transgender couples (all must attend)

FAMILY DYNAMICS can drive you mad and crazy, or drive you to a new destination.  What happens for you is up to you…each of you.

Ok, tell it like it is.  No matter if you discovered about your partner/spouse being transgender later than sooner or sooner than later, the dynamics of being a couple are forever changed…and so is your family, for better or for worse.

Your “family” is feeling and looking different, and you can still feel unsure about how to communicate the uniqueness of your new family.  You have to understand that challenges will arise, whether you are prepared for them or not.  And when they do, you will have to handle them.

How do you deal with these situations that can potentially damage mutual trust,  alter the “usual” ways you’ve become accustomed to for being intimate, change hopes, dreams and expectations, re-create needs for secrecy when you’ve always been open with one another and others, and open up competition between you when it’s never existed before?

If you are willing to embrace what happens so that you can move through it together into a better place, then you might find that you actually enjoy those “new and different” potentialities for a new family dynamic.Come, listen, explore and be open with one another and with other couples.