Aside from giving birth to my three beautiful daughters, the day I married my wife was the most amazing day of my life. Everything was simply perfect. Our family and friends traveled from several different states to celebrate the day with us. The weather was glorious. My gown was perfect, and my wife made it to the church on time. We chose every reading and every song that best represented our love for one another. My best friend’s beautiful voice could be heard from the choir loft, and you could feel love floating through the air. My wife put a wedding band on each of my girl’s little fingers and on that day we officially became a family unit. The celebration went on for two days, and everyone had a wonderful time. Now, the pictures of the happiest day of my life are in a box collecting dust.
I am certain that I am not the only one who deals with hauntingly happy memories from the past. Despite my wife’s depression and her past willingness to sometimes just want to throw in the towel, we did make many happy memories together as a family. We shared lazy days snuggling on the sofa with the kids to watch movies. Milestone events like graduations and awards dinners. Parties that we hosted, family vacations, and traditions that we started together all bring me such joy, however they are now a trigger for my wife’s dysphoria. I have a plethora of pictures and home movies on video that are hidden away because my wife can’t stand to look at herself before she transitioned.
“Just looking at these old pictures I have conflicting emotions.”
My social media accounts torment me on a daily basis with memory alerts of pictures that might disappear if I don’t share them again. But I couldn’t possibly share them because they would send my wife into a dysphoria hole. So I look at them on my own. I remember the happiness I felt when we took the picture. I remember the events of the day and all the emotions I felt. Then, the sadness creeps in knowing that my wife was miserable and depressed trying to deal with all those awkward feelings that she didn’t yet understand. Pretending to be one part of a happy family unit when in her mind she just wanted to crawl into bed and stay there until she felt right with herself. Just looking at these old pictures I have conflicting emotions. From extremely jubilant to completely depressed, it is enough to make you feel crazy.
I have owned a camera since I was 12 years old and have been in love with taking pictures ever since. Our girls often call me the family paparazzi because I love capturing all those special moments. My wife never really loved any pictures of herself, and I could never understand why. Of course at the time, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the lighting or the angle of the photo. I didn’t know that she was wrestling with gender dysphoria, I just thought she was overly sensitive. I must admit I do still have some family photos hung around the house from before my wife transitioned. I am fairly certain that she is not happy that they are there, but I just don’t know how to take them down. I have framed some photos after transition, but they don’t come close to the 11 years of photos I have accumulated from the past.
I have met some transgender folks who don’t seem to mind looking at pictures of themselves before they transitioned. That is not the case for my wife. I am sure that I am not the only spouse or partner who struggles with what to do with old pictures and home videos full of so many memories. And, I am sure that my wife is not the only transgender person who hates to look at themselves before they began to live their truth. I wish I knew a way to resolve this so that both my wife and I could be happy with the outcome. I wish this article was full of suggestions to help us resolve this situation, but it is not. I have heard of a company that will change the gender in old pictures, but I have never looked into it for myself. Perhaps that is the answer.