I am at a point in my life where I rarely feel the need to tell others about who I am or how I identify. I’ve told a few friends and family members and I don’t think anyone else needs to know. However, I am also at a point where if I were…”caught” I would be open and honest about my identity. Who I am is still a secret, but keeping secrets is exhausting.
As far as I know, I have gone through my life without anyone “finding out” unless I specifically told them. I’ve never bumped into someone into the mall that didn’t know about me. I’ve always kept my guard up, avoided areas in the city where my family and friends tend to go and have gotten good at stealthily shopping in male mode if I need to pick up a pair of stockings or foundation. Thank goodness for self-checkouts and online shopping.
We have always known who we are. If we keep who we are a secret, then that is on us. And it’s perfectly understandable why we may not reveal everything about us to everyone in our lives. Not everyone needs to know. There are some people in my life that I would like to know about me. There are others that I don’t care one way or the other, and there are those who I thank God every day that do not know.
But there is someone who does need to know. Our partners. Whether we are in a committed relationship or we are married, our significant others need to know. They need to know when the relationship becomes serious. Not after you get married. Not after you move in with each other. Not after you get engaged. Before. Before any of this. They need to know who you are. You need to know who you are.
I understand how one can change how they identify as one grows, and I understand we may not always know what we will want in five years, and I absolutely understand how complicated all of this is, but my point is that we need to be secure and comfortable in who we are and how we identify before we pursue a relationship.
We need to know this before we are in a committed relationship. It is unfair to get engaged and then tell your fiance that you are unsure if you want to transition, take hormones or anything else. I understand people change. I get that. Before I was engaged I thought all of this was about lingerie but I have evolved. But I knew then, I know now, and I have always known that transition or living full-time was not for me.
Revealing who we are is scary. No matter how long we’ve known someone or how well we know them, there’s no way to anticipate how they will react. You might have a suspicion, but there’s no way to know for sure. If my uncle was a Baptist preacher from the South I think I would have a pretty good idea how he would react, but the point is that no matter who they are, there’s no way to really know until you tell them. How scary is that?
Confiding in someone can absolutely feel amazing, especially the first time we do it. For a long time, we have kept everything a secret. Whether it’s that brave first admittance that we wear panties or showing a photo of our femme selves. Finally, finally we can open up and talk about this. The weight is off our shoulders.
But the weight is still there… it’s just shared. Whoever you come out to carries that secret now. You must respect your significant other’s feelings about this. If you are comfortable going out and your partner is not, you need to respect that. If you don’t care if someone sees the outline of a bra strap under your t-shirt but your significant other does, you need to respect that.
Your significant other needs to know and deserves to know this about you…because you will never outgrow this. This is not a phase. You may be able to suppress this side of you, but it’s always there.
For some relationships, this side of us is a deal-breaker…which is exactly why this conversation needs to happen before any sort of commitment is made. If people want different things in a relationship, then that needs to be considered. If one person wants children and the other doesn’t, then those two people probably shouldn’t get married. I believe this side of us is not that different than something like that.
If your significant other knows about this side of you (and I sure hope they do) then they will find their comfort level with this part of you. This is also something that may change over time. Whether your significant other is on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t talk about it’ side or the two of you hit the mall together dressed, the point is that they know and we need to respect (and yes, compromise in some cases) how they feel and what they want to do with this information.
For some of us, this secret is a lonely secret. Many of us feel there is no one we can talk to about this. We have lived with this part of us for years. Decades. We have had the time to think about this and sort this through. There’s a good chance we know who we are and what we want. When you come out to someone you are dropping a (glitter) bomb into their life. Your significant other coming out as transgender is not something many anticipate. Sharing this secret also can mean sharing the loneliness.
I’ve spoken to many partners of t-girls and many of them share with me how alone they felt with this secret. It’s not an easy thing thing to talk about. Every transperson is different and we have to talk about who we are to the person we come out to, and then that person needs to be able to explain it to someone else… if they share this secret with someone else.
And they have that right.
It’s not fair to tell your significant other about who you are and then ask them to not talk about it with anyone. Some significant others need to. They want to. I’m sure we can understand needing and wanting to share this. When you trust someone with a secret, you are also trusting what they will do with it. But where does one start when it comes to talking about that their partner is trans? You can always start with PFLAG if someone is looking for local support.
There’s no right way to come out to someone, especially your significant other. There are a lot of wrong ways to do it.
-Don’t get caught. That’s not saying to keep it a secret. Tell them. Tell them before they find your hidden stash of lingerie. Tell them before they see your web browser history.
-Don’t surprise them. A t-girl told me they came out to their wife by dressing up and waiting for them in the living room when she came home from work. I can’t think of a worse way to tell someone about this.
-Don’t tell them around other people. I would hope that this is obvious but you never know.
-Don’t tell them in a public place. A t-girl told me she told her wife while they were on a plane. She was afraid of her wife walking out on her and thought that if they were on a plane they would be “forced” to sit and talk. I take what I said earlier back, this is the worst way to tell someone.
So… how do you share the secret? You know your significant other better than I do. You may have had to share big, potentially bad news with them before. How did you break it to them? This might be the biggest thing you will ever share with them. It will forever change your relationship.
Let me say it again, it will forever change your relationship.
When I came out to my wife, I shared my secret with her about a year before we lived with each other. As I evolved from wearing lingerie to…well, who I am now, her feelings and fears also changed. As she saw me try on my first wig or leave the house, it was natural for her to think where this was going. Was I going to keep going? Was HRT in my future? Were hormones? What was next? For years she lived with this uncertainty. This changed our relationship. I shared my secret, but now she had a secret to keep, too. Not only did I have the normal feelings when I went out (someone seeing me, getting harassed), but now she did too.
Change is not always bad. This side of me helped our relationship too. I’ll expand on that in a future post.
I am not an expert on relationships. Every relationship is different. I am not an expert on being trans, every transperson is different. A relationship with a transperson is not an easy thing.
What I am an expert on is keeping this part of me a secret. Well, I suppose if I was an expert on secrets I wouldn’t have a public blog with a zillion photos of me on it, but I think you get my point. I suspect you are an expert on this too. We know what it’s like to keep this a secret. We have kept this a secret for a long time. We need to remember how it feels to keep this a secret.
If we remember how it feels to have this secret, then we will know how it feels for our significant other to know this secret, too.