If you are reading this, there is a really good chance you could, and do, identify as transgender. I define that term rather broadly so whether you are on hormones, living full-time or just wearing a cute pair of panties or have pink toenails there’s a really strong likelihood you fit within that definition.
Based on the comments on this blog and the emails I receive, I suspect that most of you are like me. I happily go back and forth between genders, I am secure with who I am, I have no plans to transition and I am at peace with who I am.
I am also happily married.
Relationships with those like us are not easy. For either partner. We wrestle with if we should tell our partner, how we should tell them as well as the fear of what will happen if we do.
I will make the first one easy for you YES TELL THEM. Tell them while you are dating. Tell them when the relationship gets serious. Tell them when it feels like you want to be with them for a long time. Tell them before any commitment is made, whether that commitment is moving in with each other, getting engaged or getting married.
You need to tell them because this part of you is not a phase. It is not going to go away. It will not fade over time. You will not outgrow it. Some of us hope that we will because it creates a lot of conflict and tension within themselves. It scares them. I understand. We all wonder what this means, why we want to wear heels or eyeliner or feel a little… strange when someone calls us a typical guy. We wonder if we were born in the wrong body, we wonder if we need to transition. We wonder where all this is going.
Our partners wonder the same thing.
Truly the only way you can determine for yourself where this is is all going and what it means is to let yourself find out. We need to embrace and accept this part of us. We need to stop being in denial about who we are and what we feel. If you want to wear that dress or skirt, then you need to wear that dress or skirt. How does it feel? How do you feel?
Does the next step feel right?
Growing up I thought all of …this was about pretty panties and lingerie. When I got older I realized it wasn’t. In my early thirties I had a makeover, a wig and a little black dress. I kept going to the next “level” and each step felt…well, it felt wonderful. It was normal (and scary) for my wife to think about what was next. But there was nothing next. I continued to, well, let’s call it evolve, but there was no consideration from me about hormones or transitioning or anything. I was done. I found out where all of this was leading. I even attended PFLAG meetings to talk to others like me and discussed this with a therapist to make sure I wasn’t in denial.
In terms of how you should tell your partner, well, I can’t answer that for you. I get emails several times a week from others like me asking me to email their partner, girlfriend, wife, spouse or family and talk to them and explain this to them. I’m not going to do that, obviously. It’s not my place. Coming out to our partners, or anyone, is a private and personal conversation. The best advice I can give is to approach this as it were potentially devastating. We have all had to break difficult news to someone. We needed to be gentle and honest in those times. We need to be gentle and honest with this.
It’s normal to be afraid of the aftermath. No matter how well you know someone you will never be able to predict how they will react. That fear is no excuse for not being honest with your partner. They deserve to know so they can make their own decisions about their relationships. If they do not feel they can, or want to be in a relationship with someone like us they deserve the right and ability to make that choice.
If this is a deal-breaker for them that does not make them a bad person by any means. If it is, then they should be respected for being honest. And you should know that you did the right thing by being upfront about who you are.
But if this is not a deal-breaker, then the two of you learn how to live with this. And it likely won’t be easy. Compromises may be made, boundaries may be set. For the love of God please respect them. If they ask you not to post photos online or leave the house, then don’t do it. Just don’t. It is a violation of respect and trust. If you get caught then why should they believe anything you say? I believe lying about this is the worst thing you can do to someone.
The dust will settle, the shock with subside and the two of you will enter into a new reality. This new reality could take on many dynamics. It could be ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, it could be the two of you getting makeovers and hitting the mall. It could be a million different things in-between.
Every marriage is different. Every marriage handles things in different ways. It could be finances, raising children, or how two people adapt to the husband rocking a miniskirt. I could write a book about relationships and being who we are but the point I want to make is that you know who you are and so do they.
Even if the two of you go out to the movies or the theater or dinner dressed to kill, there’s a good chance that it took a lot to get there. It could have been a lot of time, patience, tears, conversations, arguments, counseling or anything else. Regardless of where the two of you have landed, it was not easy to get there.
For either of you.
This is not an easy thing to discuss or understand. Tying to help someone else understand who we are is almost impossible. It’s a dynamic that most people don’t anticipate having to deal with in their relationships. It could be a lonely thing for a wife to live with. In a way, this is not as simple or direct as their husband having an affair. This is not something that many people can relate to. Many spouses may feel like there is no one they can talk to that might help sort out their feelings. They may just keep their feelings to themselves where the fear, doubt, confusion, or perhaps resentment, grows.
If you are a partner of someone like me and are struggling or looking for support or understanding, please seek out a local PFLAG support group.
We as human beings and as partners need to be the best people we can be. Always. It’s kind of a basic thing, you know? But for those like us we need to be better than the best. Our partners are coming to terms with this side of us just like we had to come to terms with this side of us. This is not something most partners anticipated living with in their relationships.
So, be worth it. They are, or have, struggled with this. They may be stressed, scared or lonely. Be gentle with them, not only when it comes to this but also with everything else the two of you live with. Be honest. Surprise them. It could be with flowers or power tools or a massage or anything else they might want. Talk with them about anything besides this. Be their husband, be their boyfriend, if you know they need their man, too. Fixing something or wearing work boots does not diminish this other side of you in any way.
We always need to show our partners we appreciate them. However, just like there is something a little bit more to us, we need to be a little bit more to them.