When speaking with other partners of transgender people, one emotion that seems to rear its ugly head over and over again is anger. It is one of the first things we feel after our partner sits us down and comes out as transgender, and it is hard to shake off. However, anger is a destructive emotion that can only damage your physical and mental health, not to mention your relationship. Holding onto anger is not good for you or your partner. So what can we do about this very negative emotion? Can we find our way past it toward a healthier relationship? Can understanding anger keep more relationships together?
“Anger is just a cover up for our hurt feelings.”
Anger in the dictionary reads like this: A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. When speaking with my therapist about it she describes it in a psychological manner. Anger is just a cover up for our hurt feelings. What we are really feeling is fear, sadness, helplessness, and humiliation. And, we need to realize that getting mad is only a reaction to these deeper, and harder to deal with, emotions. She is a proponent of getting it all out so then we can deal with real feelings hiding underneath. Yelling and screaming out loud can help, but not when it is directed to one another. I had the opportunity to join in one of her psychodrama classes where she encourages you to revisit those feelings of anger. She takes you back in time to that specific moment when the anger erupted, and she encourages you to take it out on her punching dummy (I highly recommend this type of therapy. It was very emotionally draining, but I felt great after. It was so worth it).
When thinking back to when my wife came out to me as transgender, I can’t say that anger played a huge roll in how I was feeling. After talking to so many partners about their own anger about this situation, it made me curious as to why I wasn’t as angry as they were. Was something wrong with me? Is there a disconnect in my relationship that I was not aware of or was my lack of anger ok? Contemplating the things my therapist said about anger helped me to understand why it wasn’t as prevalent in my relationship as it is in others.
“I was fearful that our psychical attraction towards one another would be gone.”
First, I thought about the hurt. Nothing about my wife being a transgender woman hurt me. If anything, it answered the questions in my head about her depression and reassured me that it I was not the one causing her pain. Second was the fear. Honestly it was the fear of the unknown more than anything else. I was fearful that our psychical attraction towards one another would be gone. I was fearful that she would leave me for a man. Unfortunately, time living with her as a woman, and becoming closer to her, was the only thing that put those questions to rest. Next was sadness. For the most part, my sadness was from the thoughts of losing her. So I took a long look at our relationship and realized that that we did indeed have a tiny hole in it. The missing link was that she was not living as herself. Then, I thought about felling helpless. This was a place in our relationship that I was very familiar with. I felt this weird sense of helplessness in the past. For a long time I tried to figure out why she was only a part time participant in our lives. I could not for the life of me figure it out. Couple that with not being able to help her through the depression, it left me feeling helpless. This was rectified after she started living as her authentic self. Finally I came to humiliation. I think a lot of partners struggle with this one. As if somehow our partner being transgender is a reflection on us. Some of us, I think, are embarrassed by it.
I cannot speak for any other partners but myself. Meditation, soul searching, therapy, and writing have helped me to understand what my anger is all about. It is up to each of us to dig down into our own feelings of anger and uncover what is under them. Even if you decide not to stay, healing this anger is important. It is even more so if you have children who are in the picture. Not to mention that you never want to take your anger with you into a new relationship. Remember how unhealthy anger is in your body. I continue to work with my therapist on my anger due to an abusive childhood. Realize where it came from, recover and heal it, release it, and send it away.