So, This Happened…

day 2 dressI had a feeling, almost a premonition, that something interesting was going to happen when I went out yesterday.  I started by picking out my outfit, a white dress with a floral pattern and matched it with a pair of nude pumps as seen in the photo to the left.  But at the last second I replaced it with a hot pink dress and matching stilettos as shown in the photo below.

My makeup looked good.  My mascara made my eyelashes so long that they cast a shadow on my face.  My lipstick matched my outfit.  Whatever was going to happen, I was going to face it by looking fabulous.  I was going to meet up with a friend for dinner and I had some time to kill so I went to the mall.  I popped into a few stores and then as I rounded a corner, I saw her.

I saw my mom.

1I came out to my mom a few years ago, when I still identified as a crossdresser.   I still identify as a crossdresser but I feel transgender is more appropriate.  It was a surprise to her and although my mom is a wonderful person and supportive of the GLBTQ community, she wasn’t prepared for this revelation and it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.  But I think I could have explained myself better.  I think had I explained what it meant for me to identify as trans as opposed to me wearing dresses and heels it might have gone differently.  I think when I started to identify as transgender instead of a crossdresser I went from “this is what I like to do” to “this is who I am”.

I was excited for her to meet Hannah.  I wanted  very much to go shopping with my mom, to meet for coffee.  To be a daughter, even if only for an afternoon.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  She was glad I was honest with her but wasn’t ready to meet Hannah.

Over the next few months, we had a few more conversations but I didn’t feel they were going anywhere.  I soon gave up on the hope of her meeting Hannah.  It would still hurt from time to time, however.  I knew my mom loved and accepted me, but I couldn’t help feeling sad that there was this part of my life, another half of my life, that she didn’t want to know.

 

I could have pressed, but I respected her feelings.

Lately it has been on my mind, though.  I wondered if enough time had passed for me to broach the subject again.  When I considered this, most of the time I decided to drop it.  When I didn’t decide to drop it, I wondered how to do it, and ended up dropping it anyway.  But yesterday my mom faced me in the most literal way possible: by running into me at the mall.  Because of course I was at the mall.

As we walked towards each other, I didn’t have that sense of panic.  It was more like…what should I do here?  I remembered my mom saying she didn’t want to meet me, but it felt wrong to just pass by her and not say anything.  But I also felt like this was my chance.  It was meant to be.

After the initial shock, we got to chatting.  Small talk, how the week went, what was coming up later on in the month, my sisters, weekend plans.  I am sure running into Hannah was the last thing she expected to happen on her Saturday trip to JCPenney’s but my mom bounced back well and was comfortable, chatty, friendly and just…normal.  It didn’t feel weird or tense.

We ended up walking around the store and talking for about 20 minutes until she was off on her next errand.  In the parking lot I told her that I knew she didn’t want to meet me and that I was sorry it happened.  I am not sorry for who I am, but I respected her decision to not meet me.  I told her that this afternoon was something I had dreamed of for a very long time.  I let her know if she ever wanted to go shopping or have a coffee that I would love to meet up with her.

I was surprised at how emotional I was when I told her this.

We said our goodbyes, she told me she loved me (as she always does when I see her) and she hugged me.  Do you know how long I’ve wanted her to hug Hannah?

I walked back to the mall and immediately texted my wife.  After I told her what happened, we exchanged this:

unnamed

My evening went as planned and later my wife called my mom just to check in with her now that she met me.  My mom was supportive and talkative, had some questions for my wife and was very encouraging.  I suppose ten years ago I never thought I would have had a day like yesterday…having a wife who is supportive, having the confidence to go out, having the courage to tell my mom and for my wife and my mom to chat about my gender identity on the phone.

I never really thought what occurred yesterday would ever happen and who knows if she’ll ever see me again.  Yesterday life became a whole new world for myself and for my mom.  It was full of new.  I mean, how often does your mom meet you for the first time?

Love, Hannah

Ask Hannah!

Dear Hannah,

I came out to my wonderful, selfless near saintly wife of 18 years. She knows what transgender is just not who it is. What I know is that she loves me and that will not change :):):)
It can be delicate for a while. Both of us just letting it digest. This can take overnight or it could take years (this would be a mutual denial) This is my greatest fear. The girl wants out and she wants to be acknowledged. To just go into a holding pattern would be worse then internalizing it.
Support groups? Books? Therapist? ( OK, I have one)
Any advice?

-Valerie

Coming out to anyone, especially your significant other is probably one of the hardest things we will ever do.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy and I’m glad you did it.  It’s always better for us to come out as opposed to being caught.  I get at least one email a week from a significant other of a crossdresser or t-girl who pour their hearts out because they caught their boyfriend, fiance or husband or discovered their wardrobe.  Many times it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the lying and not being honest with them.

I know it’s not easy, but I urge you all to please, please tell your significant other about this side of you before get married or live with each other.  I know it’ll be hard, but you owe it to them.

But I digress.

When you come out to someone, especially a significant other, it’s easy to let things get out of hand.  For many of us we have kept this part of ourselves secret for so long that it’s a relief to talk to someone about it.  It’s possible we’ve never talked about this to anyone else and soon our experiences, desires and secrets just pour out.  This can be very overwhelming.  The person you came out to is still processing this information and when you add more to it, it can be a lot to take in.  Take it slow.

When it comes to what’s next, well, that’s up to you.  What do you want to do?  What do you currently do?  Do you dress at all?  With my wife I did not go from coming out to dressing completely in a couple days.  It took time for both of us to adjust.  It started with her seeing panties in my dresser and her getting used to that.  Then sleeping in a nightgown and so on.  It was about four years after I came out before I was in a dress, makeup and a wig.  I didn’t always make the right decisions during this time and I got lost in the pink fog a lot, but my wife is an incredible person and she was always honest and direct with me with what she was thinking, feeling as well as what she was and wasn’t comfortable with.

Don’t be surprised if this is two steps forward and one step back for a while.  Don’t fight her if she asks you to not dress up for a few days…or weeks or around her.  If she sets limits or boundaries, respect and honor them.  You mention you have a therapist, perhaps you may consider a couples session where the two of you attend to discuss this part of you.  She may also need someone to talk to independent of you and I would recommend PFLAG, a wonderful organization that provides, among other things, support groups for our friends and families.

Good luck!

Love, Hannah