As the spouse of a transgender woman, I am constantly asked the most bizarre questions about my relationship. All too often these questions are not only inappropriate, but also sometimes intrusive. They come from family, friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers. However, since I have chosen to be open and public about my wife’s transition and my own personal journey, I will answer just about anything you ask me. There is a void of information for partners and spouses and I think it is important to rectify that. It is the reason I write weekly for Transgender Universe and run a peer support group for people who find themselves in my same situation. When my wife first came out to me as transgender I wish I had someone to talk to who could understand and was going through the same thing that I was.
“To ask that is to infer that she entered into our marriage falsely. This question would haunt me for months.”
Recently I was asked “why didn’t she tell you that she was transgender before you got married?” I literally laughed out loud, and then asked if that was a serious question. Apparently it was. In my own personal experience with my wife, she had no idea that her depression, feelings of not fitting in, and lack of self love were gender issues. She knew that something was wrong inside of her but had no diagnosis. She often referred to herself as an alien and an outcast. If she had even inkling that it was gender dysphoria, she never would have suffered through all those years. That question to me personally was extremely offensive. Of course she would have told me. We have always had a very open and honest relationship. To ask that is to infer that she entered into our marriage falsely. This question would haunt me for months.
For my wife, realizing that she was transgender was like taking a right hook to the chin. She was just as surprised as some of the people who had known her forever. Our brains are amazing organs. They have a way of suppressing hurtful and traumatic events that we experience in adolescence. Like hearing, you play like a little girl, or only boys can play with trucks. Very damaging words to a child who is struggling with their gender and those hurtful words get processed as bullying. Our society has no problem understanding the sexual abuse survivor who has their first memory of abuse at age 30, but condemns a transgender person for the very same thing. Our childhood experiences and home environment mold us into the adults we become, and when the spirit of a child is crushed they become what is expected of them, not their authentic selves.
“I believe it is because of the way our society condemns anyone who is different or anyone who does not fit the mold of a cisgender man or woman.”
As I have enveloped myself deeper into the transgender community, I have heard a plethora of journey stories. Each one unique with its own twists, turns, and lessons to learn. Have some people married knowing that they were transgender? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes, but instead of condemning them for this we should ask ourselves why. Why would they do such a thing? Why enter into a marriage under false pretenses? I believe it is because of the way our society condemns anyone who is different or anyone who does not fit the mold of a cisgender man or woman. How have we become so broken? It saddens me to think about it. I can’t even imagine what that type of shame must feel like rattling around inside of your head. Think about how it would make you feel if society was constantly telling you that you were a freak and a weirdo. Of course you would try to find a way to hide your true identity.
In my case, my wife did not know that her tormenting pain was the result of gender dysphoria. I sometimes wish she did. It would have saved us both from living with her depression for too many years. Finally, she is in a place where life is worth living, and she is truly happy in her own skin. I will continue to share my journey with anyone who wants to listen and be an out and proud ally. It is the only way I know how to live. I will be the visible partner to an amazing transgender woman and continue to educate as many people as I can. And I will remain hopeful that one day our society will stop putting gender into two little boxes and meet the beautiful people of this community.