There are often a vast number of factors involved in how one's spouse will react to a reveal of being transgender. And I cannot possibly be an expert on all possible spousal responses to such a personal and delicate manner. All I do know is how things have gone with my spouse. I have lived this life and am quite aware of what it has taken to get to where I am.
And to get to where I am has taken VAST amounts of discussions! I mean VAST, ENORMOUS, GARGANTUAN, amounts of discussions. Discussions that have taken place so many times that it is the discussions alone that have often made my spouse question why she is with me.
For you see, my spouse was raised in a family that showed her that you DO NOT discuss things. You take your troubling thoughts and you stuff them down deep inside and if you do it well enough, then it will be obvious because you will then have NOTHING to talk about and you will then live happily ever after.
Somewhere around 15 or so, when my wife and I started dating each other, after actually knowing each other for about 7 years, I came into her world and started challenging just about everything she had come to know and believe. The number of issues and topics and suggestions that I brought up blew her mind and were a completely different way of viewing the world. But regardless of how controversial and weird and upsetting my thoughts were, I have always spoken them.
For I grew up in a family where I was screamed at just about every day of my life. And eventually the screaming stopped being frightening and just got annoying and silly and stupid. I knew there had to be another way. There had to be some way to be able to actually communicate with those around you. And through communication could come understanding and togetherness and happiness and love.
So from the very start, I have told my spouse that above all else, we need to be able to talk to each other about anything, at anytime. That no matter what the topic, no matter how upsetting, no matter what, we absolutely MUST keep the lines of communication open!
Thus when asked, "how is it that your wife accepts you as being transgender," my response will always be, because we can communicate.
This in and of itself can be quite controversial for many within the transgender community. And for that I am sorry. I do not mean to be implying anything about your relations. But apparently that comes along with the statement. For, if I state that my wife accepts me because of our ability to communicate, it implies that for those of you whose spouse does not accept you, that you and your spouse cannot communicate.
And, honestly, while I know that is the implication, I really do not know why your spouse does or does not accept you. What do I know? I only know about my relationship.
And I know that for my relationship, for Jules and I to still be together, after all that we have been through since being with each other since 15 (now 43!) it is only through our ability (and my insistence and her willingness) that we communicate NO MATTER WHAT!
So why is this coming up?
Recently, due to a previous post, the issue of my wife's bisexuality has come up. And as soon as that is mentioned, for some people they then think "Aha! Now I know why! That explains everything!"
And honestly it is just not true.
Maybe at some points it held some relevance. But being transgender goes beyond sexual preferences and going through the discovery of it together was quite unnerving for both of us.
Maybe a bit of background would make it easier to understand:
For as long as I remember I have been at least gender non-conforming. The one thing I never really did was to dress up in women's clothes. (Around fifteen I did take my sister's very stylish Guess jean jacket and start wearing it to school!) But dressing really did not make an appearance until one time, somehow surrounding sex with my wife, I mentioned something about trying on her underwear. She was okay with that. Shortly thereafter I asked to try on one of her bras. She allowed me to do that. Very quickly it transitioned into me getting my own items to wear. Which very quickly became me wanting my own clothes to wear over my intimates. But this was always surrounding some sort of sex.
(I think it came out during sex because somehow I felt that it was okay if it was just a sexual kink. Before those first times with my wife, when I was somewhere around twenty three, there had never been any sort of association of arousal with my gender variances.)
Eventually the guilt and the oddness of everything got to me, and I decided to get rid of it all. So I threw away all that I owned. (Except for my underwear, because apparently I felt as though that was not TOO weird!)
Bit by bit, I started gathering back up a collection of female items. But it was beginning to become separated from our sexual relations. And one day, while looking at myself fully dressed up in female clothes, from head to toe, and with no wig, no makeup, and a 5 inch goatee, it occurred to me that I wanted to do it all. I wanted to get a wig, I wanted to try makeup, I wanted to shave my face. And suddenly all of those things NEEDED to be done.
And very quickly they were, as well continuing to separate my dressing from sex with my wife.
Then while being fully dressed, from head to toe, full female clothes, wig, makeup, fully shaved, the whole shebang!, it occurred to me that I wanted to go out. That I felt as though I was hiding myself; that I was ashamed of who I was coming to understand that I am and I didn't want to hide any more. I wanted to get out and experience the world. And that had nothing at all to do with sex. And in fact I began to insist on not having any part of my dressing having anything to do with sex.
And everything was fine, until it became clear that what was happening was something more than just a sexual kink. And possibly, that was where it was helpful that my wife is bisexual. But in coming to terms with your husband being transgender, being bisexual was NOT helpful.
From what my wife and some other's have informed me, in being bisexual, they are attracted to the attributes of either gender, but for some it does not mean that they appreciate men looking like women or women looking like men. They like men for what men have to offer and women for what women have to offer. And for a man to begin acting like a woman, or doing things that a woman traditionally does, that takes away from them the very things that attracted them to the man in the first place.
Thus suffice it to say, me removing my dressing from being a sexual kink and making it clear that this feeling inside of me is about my gender identity and that I am indeed transgender and that really it has NOTHING to do with sex, was very difficult for our relationship.
These were no small issues to overcome where she just said to me "Oh well hey, I'm bisexual so it's all cool!" And I said "yay!" And we have lived happily ever after.
These issues took LONG discussions. Often heated discussions. Discussions that often left each of us feeling defeated and looking for escape and that we could absolutely not stand to be around each other ever again for even another minute!
And yet here we both still are.
Can I say that it has come about through luck? Can I say it has come about from her being bisexual? Can I say it has come about from my insistence to communicate?
I really can't.
I am convinced that no matter who you are, no matter what you have going on in your lives, a relationship takes work. Every step along the way takes work. Hard work, but voluntary work. You don't have to do it. No one has to have a relationship. You can leave at any point. But if you don't, if you both stay together, and both commit to work, to work primarily on yourself, then and only then, I believe a relationship can survive anything.
It is not so much who you are as to who you are willing to become.
Loneliness doesn't come from having no one around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that are important to you. -Carl Jung