July 28, 2012

Can marriage survive one partner transitioning?

Photo from Photos.com
I do not believe there is a clear line between crossdreamers and crossdressers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other.

There are crossdreamers and crossdressers who identify fully with their birth sex and who do not experience sex dysphoria.

But there are also those for whom the dissonance between their body and soul becomes unbearable. They are truly transsexual.

Many of them have made heroic attempts at fitting in and playing the role society expect of them. Those of them who are gynephilic (who are attracted to women) are probably more likely to try to fit in, as excelling in the male role may seem to be the only way of finding love with a woman.

Some manage to bridge the gap between their inner psyche and the external world, but for others the gap becomes too wide. They have to chose a new life or go under. That choice is not easy. Not for themselves and not for their family.

 I don't think there is an easy or correct "solution" to their dilemma. But I do believe we have to talk about it.

I got the following email from "Mary" the other day. I have the permission to republish it here at Crossdreamers. I have made only small changes to the text by anonymizing it and by adding headlines. Any constructive comments are welcome.


Hello Jack,

My name is Mary [name altered]  and I wrote a comment on your crossdreamers blog yesterday. You did comment on what I wrote and I wanted to elaborate somewhat however I am not sure it is best to do it there or privately as I do not want to upset anyone. Also I have yet to come across anyone who wants to say what I need to say. So here I am. 

Married to a transwoman

I wrote that I am a straight female living with a straight man who crossdresses and is now taking medications with the intention of transitioning sometime soon. What I did not say is I am 53 years old and he is 63 years old, he is masculine,always played football,snowboarding, has always surfed and still does, ran a pub and a restaurant. His voice is deep, his body is wiry, his arms muscular and he is definately not outwardly feminine . 

I have know him for 20 years, lived with him for going on 8 of those and it wasn't untill we became interested in each other romantically that he told me of his desire to change gender. My reaction was 'Oh good, that gives me a new girlfriend, what fun'. 

I was aware of the diversity in genders out there of course, had gay friends, seen movies, read books etc and continued on without the faintest clue as to what it meant. In 8 years I have learned the difference between understanding something and comprehending something. 

None of this happened straight away either, the older he got the more pressing it has become.What started out as occasional crossdressing and vague talk about possibly transitioning has evolved into full blown, every day need to do something about it, and sooner rather than later.  

Emotional drain

You see Jack, its not about the actual crossdressing,  people do all sorts of things in private and mostly it is only a small part of what they do each day like having a shower, playing squash after work and well, you get the picture. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY IT TAKES TO LIVE THIS WAY. 

I fell for for my partner for all the usual reasons, he is male, makes me laugh, intrigues me, I liked what was presented to me and learned fast that it is somewhat of an illusion, something he learned to do to fit in when young as being himself didn't seem acceptable to others although he couldn't work out why at the time. 

The real person behind

What does that have to do with now? Well, there are 3 people living here and I have had to accept that for as long as we are together, that indeed will be the case until he changes over completely. Now I am not good at dating 2 people simultaneously, always been a one man woman, its just my way, but this, I have to say is very strange and I find myself out of my depth on a daily basis. 

Here is the wierd part - Who am I living with??  Is the man I fell in love with not real or am I in love with a woman and did not know it?? People say you love the soul or spirit of a person not the gender and they are one and the same but I am here to tell you they are not interchangeable as I now know. 

Being able to relax into who he / she really is at home, changes who they are/were outdoors into who they really are, surely thats the point? One has expectations that if for example they walk to the corner shop enough times that it will be the same walk there and back, not a lot will change, thats expectation! I have expectations that the man I have known for 20 years and am living with is, well, the man I am living with. 

It makes my head ache trying to unravel this mess.  I often think if I am having trouble with it then what must he be going through? Which part is the dream and which part is reality? 

To be fair though, he has had a lifetime to work out a way to live like this, I am not as practised in the art of how to keep the various parts separate as he is. Then comes the daily frustration of not being able to just tell people.

Keeping this secret 

I cannot tell my children, not for the usual reasons, they know the gist of it already but they are my children and its not my place to expect them to sort their own mother out on an emotional level, parents do that for their children not the other way around. 

His children don't know much, just that their dad is more of a free spirit than most and he is not quite ready to tell them that their dad intends to disappear forever although she will still be there, just female.  Expectations again! 


Then there is the problem of intimacy. Gosh, where do you begin with this one? What are the choices? I am not interested in women so does that leave celibacy and a lifelong partnership as close friends? He says I could be open to him still being who he is on the inside, that will not change, just the same person with a different form. He says no two people are the same and we need to find our own way. 

He is right I suppose, but I am still not going there . Here is another worry, what if, as I have read, he changes his orientation after being on hormones etc,[he has been on hormones and blockers for 3 months] and wants to experience being a woman sexually with a man. 

I could not be upset if that happened because I believe he should finally get to experience all the things that make up being a woman just as I have. Hell, he has waited long enough!! I am not a hypocrite, I can't say go, be you, but there are boundries. 

Could I cope with being left behind? He says tht is not on his horizon ever, I say he hasn't been there yet to make such definate statements. 

No one talks about this as much as I would like....Its not the shock of what he is going through or the ' How could you do this to me?' its more, 'How can we save what we have'? 

While I have read Helen Boyd and others, [we are reading Jennifer Finney Boylan as I write this]  I have found that most writers tend to write either about their divorces and they end up with same sex partners who have bi-sexual leanings or ...add label here..... or they talk of their success stories, albeit with the struggle discussed as well but not really indepth enough and like Helen Boyd, the partner hasn't gone all the way yet because of the very situation I am talking about. 

After 8 yrs I can't seem to get any further ahead. So, in a nutshell I love him and I like him too but I like the package that he came very much and I need to see if there is a way forward that could suit us both. Perhaps I am a tad envious of what he is doing, seeing both sides is not available to me but then again its a hefty price to pay isn't it? 

Lastly, we shop for lingerie, shoes, clothing together, get our hair streaked together, eyelash tints, waxing, although he still dresses male we are not too shy about going that far in public but he cares more about the publics reaction than I do when all is said and done. 

Straight and lesbian

To dumb it right down with lablels and a bit of humour -How can a straight woman live with a gay woman who was once a straight man and survive? 

Anyway if you have any thoughts I would love to hear them and if you think my letter is appropriate to post online please do. 

After 8 years I am still unsure as to the correct way to go about things. My political correctness is somewhat out of alignment these days because I am seeing things from the point of view of someone who is way too busy living what most people only read about and breathing when I can so I ask you to forgive anything I have written here that could offend.  

Kind regards .. [Mary]

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