WELCOME

2018 Esprit Theme for SO’s and Couples

There is no better city to support you or conference to attend in terms of an opportunity for being reflective about your life, both individually as an SO (SignificantOther) or a person who is transgender or questioning, and as a couple.

You may have already discovered and accepted that being transgender is never a choice; however, to be honest and live authentically is a choice. Our program will provide you a safe space for reflecting upon and contemplating this choice as you journey through the week with your SO.

Making choices also applies to you as the SO and both of you together as a couple. The journey of the person who is transgender and making a decision to disclose that information means you maybe faced with choices for which you feel unprepared. Our program will provide you a safe space for reflecting upon and contemplating this choice.
You, together as a couple, are confronted with multiple choices. Our program will provide you a safe space for reflecting upon and contemplating the diverse choices with which you will come to better understand during this week at Esprit.

While relationships can sometimes have common threads and share common stories, none are exactly alike. Both the SO and the person who is transgender must find empathy and support for exploring the nature of their unique individual selves and their relationship. Our program will provide you a safe space for reflecting upon and contemplating this journey as you move beyond isolation.

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, is a part of your journey upon which you can reflect.

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

If you are an SO who is isolated, that is a choice…and one that you can clearly reflect upon and change if that is your desire during this week at Esprit.

If you are transgender who is isolated, that is a choice…and one that you can clearly reflect upon and change if that is your desire during this week at Esprit.

If you are a couple who is isolated, that is a choice…and one that you can clearly reflect upon and change if that is your desire during this week at Esprit.

Attending Esprit offers many insights, whether you are a newbie or a long-timer. Bottom line? Everyone is welcome…because we all have value and that is worth reflecting upon and accepting.


2018 Daily Groups

Tuesday 9:00-11:00 am: Reflecting upon Your Feeling of Isolation as a SO

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the partner who is transgender, whether such partner is male, female, or questioning.

You might feel unprepared for this journey if you are at the beginning of it…or unprepared if the status of your partner who is transgender seems to be evolving.
It is easy to feel left in the dark and isolated as the non-transgender partner or SO. If you are an SO who feels isolated, we will be investigating how you have choices and what those choices entail. You will have a safe space for reflecting upon how you can positively impact and alter your isolation if that is your desire during this week at Esprit.
Our intention is that you feel heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. Join us, whether you are a newbie SO or have attended Esprit in the past. It’s a new year with a new group of people who show up.


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


Tuesday 1:30-3:30 pm: Reflecting upon Your Feelings of Isolation as a Couple

For transgender couples (all parties must attend)

Each of you will have the opportunity to share why you feel isolated, as well as the opportunity to reflect upon what part you feel you have played in creating this scenario.

    We will explore:
    • Does one of you want to be more open while one specifically wants to stay more isolated from others, whether that relates to disclosure with family and friends, or isolation in terms of others who are transgender or other couples
    • What does “stepping out of the shadows of isolation” look like to each of you?

If you are a couple who now feels more connected but at one time felt isolated, come share your voice and story of how you overcame this isolation.

If you are a couple who is isolated, that is a choice…and one that you can clearly reflect upon and change if that is your desire during this week at Esprit.


Wednesday 9:00-11:00 am: What questions do you want to reflect upon?

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the partner who is transgender, whether such partner is male, female, or questioning.

What is the single question you have wanted to ask, yet have been afraid to ask.

Join us in a safe space where you can ask other SOs questions about relationship with their partner, relationships with their friends and family, feelings they have dealt with, and emotions that have puzzled them.

Whether you are a newbie or a person who is further along on your journey, come and provide a sounding board for one another. Offer support for one another as you reflect upon conversations you want to have with your spouse/partner.

Reflect about both your personal pains and your joys while experiencing this journey.


Wednesday 1:30-3:30: What questions feel too raw to ask?

For transgender couples (all parties must attend)

Transphobia strikes before it is cured. No couple escapes its grip initially, but all can be healed. Transphobia compromises how comfortable you feel in asking ANY question that feels valid for either of you. Silence is not golden. Fear of asking questions of one another only creates a deeper divide.

Reflect upon how your fear of asking questions you want to explore is compromising the integrity of your relationship.

Newbies will most likely have different questions that those who are further along in their journey or who have attended Esprit before. That’s ok. Regardless of where your relationship is on the spectrum, lend your voice to the conversation and share what questions you were afraid to ask and how not asking impacted your relationship.

Discover how to ask questions in a way that enables you to own your fears/frustrations without damaging one another other and your relationship as a couple.


Thursday 9:00-11:00: How do you carve out space for focusing on YOU?

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the partner who is transgender, whether such partner is male, female, or questioning.

Refuse to allow labels to define YOU!

Reflecting upon the nuances between the various labels you have heard, such as

Trans, Crossdresser, Transexual, Genderqueer, and more, can feel like a full-time job you don’t even like. Besides, labels are for jelly jars!

How do you figure out who you are relative to who they are…especially when that can feel like an ongoing evolution. Do you ever feel like you just got used to “who they say they are” only to have that definition change…again?

How do you set boundaries that honor yourself while also honoring the journey of your partner who is transgender or questioning?

How do you let them know you have questions and aren’t sure where you are in this journey either. Discover what boundaries are important to you and commit to vocalizing how you feel and why you feel the way you do.


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


Thursday 1:30-3:30: Reflecting on Family & Friends as a Trans Couple.

For transgender couples (all must attend)

There is an impact on family and friends, whether they “know” or “don’t know.”

How are each of you individually, and as a couple, dealing with your approach? Are you on the same page, or a world apart? Reflect upon what you can do to shorten the distance between your approaches and what feels comfortable to each of you.

Reflect upon if/how you treat your relationship with each other differently than “before you knew.”

Reflect upon if/how you treat your relationships with others (friends, family, colleagues)…again, “before you knew.”

Reflect upon if/how you treat your relationship with your children. Do they know your truth, as individuals, and as a couple? If they do know, do you speak with them differently in any way after this disclosure vs before?

Reflecting and examining the relationship between yourselves and with others requires speaking the unspoken and that requires courage. This feels challenging for good reason. Change is something most people resist vs. embrace. The resistance exacts its toll.

Reflecting might mean that you keep your relationship exactly as it has always been, and then again, reflecting might enable you to create a new identity in relationship that transforms the one you have.

Authentic reflecting as a couple can determine what works for you. 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 for reflection.


Friday 9:00-11:00: Is it time to reflect on how you define intimacy and what types of intimacy are important to you with your partner/spouse?

For SO's ONLY. For the Significant Other of the partner who is transgender, whether such partner is male, female, or questioning.

Intimacy is multi-layered and involves various aspects.

How do YOU (not your spouse/partner) feel about the following areas of intimacy. Which is most important to you? Which is least important? Do you know where your spouse/partner stands on each of these?

  1. Moral Intimacy - Shared common vision of what is right & meaningful
  2. Emotional Intimacy - Being tuned into each other’s wavelength; willingness to acknowledge the other for whom he/she is without reservation, unafraid to show the real you without fear of repercussions or judgment.
  3. Intellectual Intimacy - Sharing in the world of ideas & passions<
  4. Aesthetic Intimacy - Sharing experiences of beauty, with compatibility showing through your ability to acknowledge tastes in music, theatre, decor, and then live with and impart together decisions which, though might not be precisely the same, still inspire one another.
  5. Creative Intimacy - Sharing in acts of creating together
  6. Recreational Intimacy - Sharing experiences of fun and play
  7. Crisis Intimacy - Closeness in coping with problems and pain
  8. Conflict Intimacy - Facing and struggling with differences and how to navigate any irreconcilable differences
  9. Commitment Intimacy - Mutuality derived from common investment
  10. Work Intimacy - Closeness of sharing common/differential tasks
  11. Spiritual Intimacy - Endeavoring to create we-ness in sharing ultimate concerns about one another, humanity and our place in the world
  12. Communication Intimacy - The foundation and source of all types of authentic intimacy and the ability to speak to one another in the language
    which the other likes to receive information and input
  13. Physical Intimacy -shared touching in non-genital ways, including touching, hugging, and kissing
  14. Genital Intimacy - Erotic or orgasmic closeness
  15. Unconditional Intimacy - The hardest to attain - loving without reservation the person they are yesterday, today and tomorrow, without waiting for anything in return. You love because you choose to love, not because you expect them to do the same; however, you love in a way that opens up a space for them to return to you what you give to then.

Friday 2:00–4:00: Is it time to reflect on what types of intimacy are important to you as a couple?

For transgender couples (all must attend)

Your SOs had the opportunity to look at their feelings about various types of intimacy in our morning session and to consider what is most important to them. Now is your opportunity to look at the varied components of intimacy for yourselves, and then for you all to discern as a couple where your priorities lie with one another. Let’s list those again:

  1. Moral Intimacy - Shared common vision of what is right & meaningful
  2. Emotional Intimacy - Being tuned into each other’s wavelength; willingness to acknowledge the other for whom he/she is without reservation, unafraid to show the real you without fear of repercussions or judgment.
  3. Intellectual Intimacy - Sharing in the world of ideas & passions
  4. Aesthetic Intimacy - Sharing experiences of beauty, with compatibility showing through your ability to acknowledge tastes in music, theatre, decor, and then live with and impart together decisions which, though might not be precisely the same, still inspire one another.
  5. Creative Intimacy - Sharing in acts of creating together
  6. Recreational Intimacy - Sharing experiences of fun and play
  7. Crisis Intimacy - Closeness in coping with problems and pain
  8. Conflict Intimacy - Facing and struggling with differences and how to navigate any irreconcilable differences
  9. Commitment Intimacy - Mutuality derived from common investment
  10. Work Intimacy - Closeness of sharing common/differential tasks
  11. Spiritual Intimacy - Endeavoring to create we-ness in sharing ultimate concerns about one another, humanity and our place in the world
  12. Communication Intimacy - The foundation and source of all types of authentic intimacy and the ability to speak to one another in the language
    which the other likes to receive information and input
  13. Physical Intimacy -shared touching in non-genital ways, including touching, hugging, and kissing
  14. Genital Intimacy - Erotic or orgasmic closeness
  15. Unconditional Intimacy - The hardest to attain - loving without reservation the person they are yesterday, today and tomorrow, without waiting for anything in return. You love because you choose to love, not because you expect them to do the same. You love in a way that opens up a space for them to return to you what you give to them.

Saturday 9:00-11:00: You’ve been at Esprit and participating in our SO/Couples program for some of the sessions, for all of the sessions, or you have just arrived. What do you want to discover in this one session today?

For transgender couples (all must attend)

Each couple is unique and different. While stories may ring a familiar bell, in the end result, your relationship is defined by what YOU want.

What do you want? Do you know?

Are you afraid to speak your truth because you are afraid your spouse/partner might not want the same thing?

Deep connection rarely happens without moving through chaos. As a couple, you have the greatest capacity to create the most intimate relationship with one another because of that chaos. You have the opportunity to reach a depth that many non-transgender couples rarely achieve. Walking the path of being a couple with one or both who is transgender spells opportunity of a lifetime. Are you ready and willing to embrace that?

If you are willing to embrace the chaos vs run from it, it enables you to move to the other side of chaos, empowered and on a trajectory to reach your ultimate selves. This in turn enables you to become your ultimate best as a couple.

Join us. Listen, explore, embrace the chaos and be open with one another and with other couples. Your feelings and your stories matter.


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