Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Excellent Article on Polyamorous Triad

This article by at has been getting much notice in polyamory circles. It involves a FFF triad with a cisgendered woman and two trans women.

Zoe O'Connell, Sarah Brown and Sylvia Knight
Zoe O'Connell, left, Sarah Brown, centre, and Sylvia Knight, who live together in a polyamorous relationship. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The article starts with a young man and woman falling in love and marrying, and then says years into the marriage...
The young man became Sarah, now a chatty, self-assured city councillor who lives in Cambridge. A stereotypical way of describing trans women in childhood is to say they feel like "a girl trapped in a boy's body," says Sarah, but she believes few people think at that level. "As a kid, I assumed that everybody wanted to be a girl and some people were lucky enough to be born that way. Then it very rapidly became clear that this was something that we did not talk about and it got buried very, very deep inside."
Suppression brings pain.

Only a small minority of marriages survive one partner changing sex and Sarah is no longer married to Sylvia, the woman she fell in love with when they were students. But this is only because the law forbids two women to be married.

That's cruel.

When Sarah completed her transition with gender-reassignment surgery in January 2007, she and Sylvia were compelled to divorce, despite the fact that they were very much together. So they are now civil partners instead, with a wedding album and a divorce certificate stowed away in a drawer in their house.

At best, that's good for a pained chuckle. But it is very insulting.
Sylvia and Sarah hope to remarry when the marriage (same-sex couples) bill becomes law, but their original marriage can never be restored in the eyes of the law. "When the registrar pronounced us civil partners it felt like the state was kicking us in the teeth," adds Sarah.
We can't change the past, but we can be damn sure to make the future better.

The article goes on to explain how they met Zoe O'Connell, a another trans woman. Here's how the relationship became polyamorous...

Some months later, Sarah and Zoe went to Brighton again to support a mutual friend's surgery and this time shared a twin-bedded hotel room. "There was sexual tension in the room," remembers Sarah, laughing. Sarah and Zoe were falling in love.

Feeling increasingly stressed about their feelings, Sarah, Zoe and Sylvia sat down to talk and, together, they "renegotiated the bounds of the existing relationship," as Sarah puts it.
Soon afterwards, Zoe moved into Sarah and Sylvia's house. At first, they tried sleeping together in a big bed but the person in the middle was always very uncomfortable. Now Zoe has her own room and often sleeps there, although the three all move between bedrooms.
How does being a triad work for them?
Isn't three fundamentally an awkward number? "It can be really handy," says Sylvia. "If two of us are massively disagreeing about whether to do something around the house, we can have someone to break the deadlock. As long as you're careful enough so it doesn't end up with two people picking on one."

"We're all adult enough not to do that," adds Sarah.

Their relationship is a "triangle" (a "V-shaped" polyamorous relationship in which not all three members of the relationship are connected would be more tricky, they say), and they share many passions.
There's a lot more to the article; click through to read everything. Much thanks to The Guardian and to Barkham, and much thanks to the triad for having the courage to speak up and be featured. They are another example of why the limited same-gender freedom to marry, while a good step, is not enough. Full marriage equality is needed, so that an adult is free to marry any and all consenting adults.
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