Thanksgiving week is always weird. For most of us it’s a short work week. Additionally most of us are also likely traveling or preparing a meal or dreading seeing certain family members. Whatever you are doing, or whatever you had to do, I hope it went by as well as it could!
In addition to all the normal holiday related activity, whether for family or work, I spent a lot of this week exchanging emails with ya’ll. And your significant others. Goodness that sounds questionable, doesn’t it? This was a busy week for some of you.
Most of the emails I get are from people who have questions about crossdressing plus marriage. Or emails from partners of crossdressers. Or people who are looking for guidance, support, and reassurance.
Some emails are partners who are venting their frustrations or pouring their hearts out. No matter how many emails like these I get they still move me. It’s also amazing how similar they usually are.
Not to generalize but most of the emails I get from partners of crossdressers are along the lines of:
- I don’t really understand why my husband wears lingerie but it makes him happy and I just roll with it
- ….but he keeps going behind my back and lying about this side of him. He tells me he doesn’t want to transition but it’s hard to believe him when I accidentally found his wig and he admitted he goes out en femme when I am not around
Please know this. Not every person who has a penis who wears “girl clothes” secretly wants to transition or is in denial about it. I have a penis and more stilettos than anyone I know and I have no desire to transition. They are more people like myself than one would think.
It’s very very difficult to explain who we are and why we are and what we want to someone else. WE get it. We know who we are. Helping someone else understand this side of us isn’t easy. My wife has seen my progression and journey over the last fifteen years and she will never REALLY understand who I am in the exact way I understand who I am, but she gets me.
It’s not unlike how I don’t understand how she can unwind after a very long day with a murder documentary but I get that this how she likes to relax. I don’t need to get it. I don’t need to relate. I just know that this is how she is wired.
We all know this side of us will cause varying levels of fear for our partners. We know that this side of us will cause tension and stress in our relationships.
And this isn’t fair to our partners. This is not something our partners ever guessed that they would live with.
When we commit to someone we make a promise to be honest and open to them. Doing anything less than this is, in my opinion, disrespecting them.
Lying about this side of us, refusing to answer questions about this side of us, getting defensive and angry about this side of us, gaslighting our partners makes our gender identity (which is already confusing and stressful to our partners) even more confusing and stressful.
Again, it’s usually not the crossdressing itself, it’s the behavior that our crossdressing can cause. What I mean it’s not wearing panties that is usually the issue, it’s LYING about wearing panties.
Bob Dylan once wrote “to live outside the law, you must be honest”. If we tweak that a little we could say “to live outside the gender norms, you must be honest”. I think that’s good guidance.
IF this side of you is more than panties, tell her.
IF you want to go out en femme, tell her.
IF you want or feel or think anything that is different than what you have said, tell her.
And yes, this is waaaaay easier said than done. I promise that I get it. I promise that it’s not this simple.
We are driving our partners to the brink of emotional breakdowns when we are constantly lying about this side of us. We tell them that this side of us is all about lingerie BUT then they learn that we have boxes and boxes or wigs and high heels. We tell our partners we don’t want to transition BUT our search history contradicts this. We tell our partners so many things to reassure them, to help them understand, to minimize their fears BUT our behavior, our actions, our secrets cause us to lose all credibility.
If I have any “golden rule” about crossdressing and relationships it’s that our partners WANT, and NEED, and DESERVE the truth. Oooh, maybe we should call it The Pink Rule?
And I know this side of us isn’t easy to talk about. To put into words. I know. I get it. I relate. Even after all this time I still feel a little silly and awkward when my wife teases me about how many dresses I own or the extensiveness of my lingerie drawer. Well, drawers. Well, entire dresser.
Please know that the extent of my conversations with my wife about my gender identity are not only about clothes. These days they are, but it took years of intimate and difficult and stressful and frightening talks about this side of me before she found peace with who I am.
Trust is fragile. It can take years to build on it but one small thing can destroy that trust and make it impossible to ever create it again.
“But it only happened once!” is something many people say. This can be about someone not being faithful in their marriage but this is often mentioned when it comes to this side of us.
What I mean is that I get emails from crossdressers who tell me that they have a supportive wife but one of the agreed upon boundaries is them not leaving the house. And guess what? They left the house. And were caught. All the love and support and patience their partner put into this is just… gone.
“But it only happened once!” they say.
Well, yes, but you blew it.
You may be forgiven for this adventure but your partner probably won’t forget. It’s not carrying a grudge, it’s not refusing to let something go… it happened and has fundamentally changed the situaion.
Years and years and years ago, I dated a girl who cheated on me with one of her exes. She was friends with him after the breakup and would still hang out. This was awkward for me but I did my best to not let my fear and insecurity get the best of me.
And then I found out she cheated on me.
“But it only happened once!” she said.
I forgave her, we moved on. But I never stopped being afraid it would happen again. Every time she hung out with him my mind drifted back to that time.
Our partners may have a similar reaction. The same fear. And they would be absolutely right and justified.
Listen. We feel guilt about this side of us when it comes to our relationships. Our partners sometimes feel guilt too. But it’s different.
“My husband promises this side of him is all about lingerie but I just feel he is not being honest and I feel guilty about not believing him”
“My husband wears dresses and I feel guilty for not being as accepting as he’d like me to be”
“I love my LGBTQ+ friends but I feel guilty about being uncomfortable when my husband dresses up”
For many of us, this side of us is the best thing ever. It’s sometimes the complete opposite for our partners. It’s like having a favorite restaurant that our significant others don’t care for but you still eat there every single day. This side of us might be fun and the perfect way to spend the day but it can cause so much stress and tension for our spouses.
To all my crossdresser and t-girl siblings out there, please be honest. Please tell the truth.
I encourage partners of crossdressers to look into counseling. Our partners need someone to talk to. This side of us is very, very lonely for them.
But I also encourage people like myself to do the same thing. I have been going to counseling for over ten years. Not because I am trying to find myself or understand myself or whatever, but getting help with communicating with my wife and getting someone else’s perspective has been enormously beneficial to my marriage and to my own peace.
Okay, I’m done lecturing. But please know many of our partners are more accepting that you might think, and more accepting that we dreamed, and more accepting that we deserve. It’s the lying about this side of us that becomes the problem.
P.S. I tend to speak in absolutes such as “tell the truth” and “be honest” and use words like “always” and “never”. I am aware that the truth may put someone in a very difficult or dangerous situation. I understand that not everything is black and white or pink or blue. Always make the decisions for yourself that you feel is the right choice… especially when it comes to personal safety.