May 28, 2014

How I found out my husband is a woman inside and what happened next

Photo: Robin Beckham
Buried Treasure, a Love Story

By Sally Molay, Guest Blogger


Different but the same
Where I stumble across the surprise of my life

"He is no different than he was yesterday. He is straight and he loves me."

These were the first thoughts I put on paper after I found out that my husband, Jack, is transgender, a woman in a man's body.

I was literally dizzy for days, and very frightened. But I was also eager to find the truth about the man I loved and I was overwhelmed thinking about how lonely he must be carrying this huge secret, scary on his own, how frustrated and sad. My heart was breaking for him. (Pronouns are difficult in this case. I use the ones Jack use.)

This is how I found out: I stumbled across his pseudonymous twitter account, which linked to a blog authored by the same pseudonym, a person living as a man, but perceiving himself as a woman. Some days later, I gathered the courage to read more and learned that, in his own words, he was attracted to women and happily married. Knowing this gave me a measure of security.

But so much remained unresolved: If I confronted him, would he freak out? Would I freak out? Would I still be attracted to him, knowing there was a female identity inside the body of the man I loved? The blog went back seven years. Could I live with the fact that he had kept this from me all that time? Could we make it work?

I knew I wanted to. We have no kids, so this was entirely between the two of us. I also knew it would be a lot of work and that I had no clue how to proceed. For more than half my life Jack had been the most important person in my life and even though we certainly have had our ups and downs, most of the time I felt that I knew what I was doing, knew where we were going as a couple and what to expect from him. Now it seemed like all bets were off.

I felt helpless and desperately needed someone to talk to, but I knew he definitely wouldn't want me to discuss this with anyone else. And he didn't want to talk. He wouldn't even admit the blog was his.


Sleepless nights, endless days
Where I try to ignore the whole thing and don't succeed

I know, I know. I should have reacted immediately, but I was walking on eggshells, had been for years. Jack was so miserable--anxious and depressed--and I wanted so much to make him feel better. One of my strategies was not rocking the boat.

Keeping to this strategy and used by now to handling relationship issues by trying--mistakenly and unsuccessfully--to be a "bridge over troubled waters", absorbing what I could of the whatever stuff the two of us were going through. So I thought that I ought to make sense of this new knowledge on my own. I told myself that by not pushing the issue, I was giving him what he wanted, and hoped that he would come around when the time was right.

In the meantime I wasn't sleeping, I couldn't concentrate and I was basically going out of my mind. My safe place, my home, didn't feel so safe any more: I had assumed I knew Jack really well and discovered I didn't. He had been keeping this very important information secret from me for years, and now I had stumbled on what seemed to be a strange, parallel dimension--like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

On Tuesday, a couple of days after I found the blog, I went to a conference in another city. I thought that maybe three nights apart would provide me with some perspective and calm me down, but it didn't. I tried to focus on the conference and it did me no good. I still couldn't sleep and in the middle of the night, I started exploring his blog, trying to get a grasp of the situation. Then I really freaked out. I had hoped to gain some understanding. In stead I found words like gender dysphoria, transgender, autogynephilia, and other concepts I had little or no knowledge of and I was very confused. To get some perspective, I started writing: "He is no different than he was yesterday. He is straight and he loves me."

Writing on, I realized that I was scared and bewildered, but not really surprised. I had known for a long time that he was unhappy. Now I knew why. Another reason was that I had seen the books he was reading: Biographies and autobiographies, novels and poems, dissertations and papers about the sociology, psychology, history, and biology of gender and sexuality in general and transgender and trans sexuality in particular.


Living with secrets
Where I find some answers and more questions

Why didn't I guess earlier? I knew that something was up with Jack and I had an idea it was sexual in nature. I had felt his discomfort and seen the books. Once I even found a comic strip about a transsexual on our computer. When I asked him about it, he claimed to have no idea about it and I let it go. Why?

Here are three reasons I have found: First, there is a huge taboo on issues like this and I didn't want to pry. Second, I knew that if he didn't want to talk, he wouldn't, being more than a little stubborn. Finally, I had no idea about how to handle this, so letting it go and forgetting about it was surprisingly easy. After all, this was dark and uncharted territory, where in the old maps it used to say "here be monsters". I had no idea what to expect and no one to ask for advice.

Why wasn't I angry when I found out? After all, he had lied to me for years about something essential both to him and to us. Most of all because I had seen his anguish and tried every way I could to help, but without success. Now that I knew why he was so unhappy, I saw a chance for relief for him and a new start for us. Over a period of several years we had drifted apart. We were still very close friends and occasionally lovers, but we rarely shared hopes and dreams, fears and sorrows. If we were going to survive this revelation as a couple, we would have to make a new start. I knew we needed that.

Reading more of his blog, I learned that he had considered seeking medical help in order to get gender reassignment, in other words to become a woman. This was what he longed to be, but for reasons that were not yet clear to me he didn't consider it an option.

Even though I now had more information, I still couldn't sleep. Using the hours on the train home Friday evening to reflect on this new knowledge about my life partner of so many years, I decided if I was going on in our marriage, I needed us to go on together, in honesty.


An easy difficult conversation
Where we finally talk and it feels quite good

When I arrived back home, the first thing I did after taking off my shoes and jacket was to go for it: "I have read more of that blog and I know it's yours," I said and continued: "I don't know how to deal with this and I need you to be honest with me."

I watched his expression changing as he mentally searched for ways out and found none. He looked desperate. "It's really late and this is a difficult issue," I said. "Let's talk in the morning." Quietly, he said "Yes" and we went to bed. Needless to say I didn't sleep any better that night.

The next morning we decided to talk after breakfast. It had been a week since the discovery. Over breakfast I found myself studying him when he wasn't looking, trying to get a glimpse of the woman within. I wanted to recognize and honor his inner self that had been unseen for so long. I was probably projecting, but I found features like his kind eyes, his full, soft lips and his long, slender legs to which I could anchor my perception of this other side of my spouse and best friend.

After breakfast I braced myself and told him: "I need to know everything." He told me I could ask him anything. So I started asking and learned that there are trans people-- probably a lot of them--who show no outward sign of it. This is called presenting, so Jack is presenting as a man even though he perceives himself as a woman. Many of these people, like Jack, are not crossdressers either. Rather, they are crossdreamers. Their true gender, their true identity is being relegated to the world of dreams and fantasies.

He told me that he had probably always known deep inside, but hadn't known how to handle it. Growing up in a conservative family in a provincial, puritan town, it's no wonder. So as a child he repressed his true self by unconsciously separating from his feminine identity and placing her deep inside, so deep that she only surfaced in dreams and fantasies. Many of these fantasies were sexual in nature and for most of his life this is the only way he got to experience his inner woman.

In his 40's he was desperately unhappy and decided his only chance at a better life was to find out how deep these fantasies went and what they really meant. So he read and read and read some more and admitted to himself that he was transgender. Then he started the blog and found out there were others like him--a lot of them, both men and women--struggling to express their true self, longing for what most of us take for granted: respect and recognition.

Many of these people are not only struggling with the taboo our society has placed on these issues, but with a deep seated discomfort: gender dysphoria. You can think of dysphoria as the opposite of euphoria. Wikipedia defines it as "a feeling of emotional and mental discomfort, symptom of discontentment, restlessness, dissatisfaction, malaise, depression, anxiety or indifference." In other words, the disparity between the inner, true gender and the presenting gender they don't identify with, causes sadness, depression, desperation and often even physical discomfort

Our breakfast conversation went smoothly. I asked the questions I had been carrying for a week and Jack answered at length. He told me that the dysphoria has many aspects. Most fundamental is the sorrow of being in the wrong body. You don't have to know this by experience to understand how fundamental and inescapable this and how shattering.

Then there is the continuous stress of being condemned by society. Sitcoms regularly use feminine men or men in woman's clothing as comical relief and crossdressers are often made out to be perverts. It wasn't hard for me to see that in a society where both gender and sexuality are such important factors in TV, movies, advertising, popular music and music videos, the taboo and the ridicule must really hurt.

Another aspect of the dysphoria is the loneliness. Due to the taboo, many, probably most, transgender people choose to hide their real selves. This moves me deeply. Imagine going through life unable to show your real self, your true beauty, your innermost dreams.

This leads to another factor of dysphoria: Many crossdreamers have sexual desires that are never met. A woman presenting as a man, like Jack, often dream about having sex as a woman and if you don't want to transition, to have hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, then this will never happen.


The uncomfortable truth

Where I face some major challenges

During the first weeks of conversations we were getting to know each other all over again. It was scary, exhilarating and exhausting. I was sad to know that he had lied to me about something so important. I could understand why, but I was still sad and hurt. I had always imagined that we were closer to each other than most couples and could be truthful with each other.

Before we met, I was raped, but told no one. I repressed the whole experience. Years later, I trusted Jack with the hurt, shame, depression and anxiety that was a result of this horrible experience and I am forever grateful for the comfort and understanding he gave me. His acceptance of my deep truth and his empathy made a huge difference to me. Now I was disappointed that he didn't trust me enough to share his secret with me.

My home country prides itself on the level of equality achieved for women, for gays and lesbians. Still, trans issues are hardly ever mentioned and in general people know nothing about them--as was the case with me until recently. Conchita Wurst, a trans person from Austria, had just won the Eurovision Song Contest. Some of my friends thought this was "about time", "really cool" or "good for her", some of my friends found her disturbing or declared that they were sorry to say they still harbored prejudice. I got to feel the taboo for myself.

I realized that when a truth so major, so essential was revealed, there was going to be some major changes in our life together. It was far too early to guess what kind of changes, but the truth is, I'm not really good with changes. I crave security and get easily rattled. I was thoroughly rattled by this experience and we were just starting to figure things out.

Even though I was certain we both wanted to work things out, I couldn't be sure we would succeed. There were the secrets, the dysphoria and the big question: would he remain a crossdreamer or would he eventually want to transition? Transition is never easy and it is probably harder the older you get. Also, Jack is a quiet person, almost timid. Coming out as a transsexual would be very hard on him.

Part of me wanted him the way he was, the way I had always known him, but I knew that was literally only skin deep and that I had to let go of that. I also knew now that his depression and desperation were caused by the gender dysphoria. He declared emphatically that he didn't feel transition was an option, yet I couldn't help wondering if he would change his mind, especially now that we were in it together.


Love, sweet love

Where we finally have some good luck

The more I saw of Jack's true self, the more I wanted us to make this work and, knowing us, I knew we could do it. You may ask if this is not overly optimistic in this predicament, but I trusted our love for one another. In fact, I was falling in love all over again. Despite the previous distrust, it did feel like a gift to get to know this whole new side of him, even though I now often found myself thinking of him as her.

When I was away at the conference trying to forget about the whole thing, I was wondering if I would still be attracted to him, knowing he felt himself to be a woman. Now I found my body responding spontaneously to the new situation. I was curious and excited to find out what it would be like to touch the lady in him and luckily, amazingly, it turned us both on. A lot.

I was happy about this, but also surprised. I have never been attracted to women. I didn't even have what the movies make out to be the mandatory lesbian experience in college. So when I got turned on by Jack's inner woman, I don't think it was because I had discovered latent lesbian tendencies. If you knew me, you would know that what I fall for in a person is not usually the handsome face, the strong body and the brave exploits. What turns me on are the kind heart, the wise soul and the messy sum of life experiences.

Considering this, it is no wonder that I was turned on by getting to know the hidden, vulnerable and virtually unexplored side of Jack. And so we found our sex life refreshed and renewed, a welcome bonus after 25 years together.


I am a bird now
Where I dream of a new and better life for the both of us

There is still much I for me to learn and for us to figure out, but I have gained some perspective and this is the essence of it: Our love is as strong as I hoped it was. Jack is working hard to unveil his inner lady and involve me in her life. I am up to this.

I want so much to reach out to the hidden side of my spouse, to put an end to the loneliness and maybe to combat the dysphoria. I find myself thinking about the artist Anthony Hegarty. He is a singer, a sculptor and a trans person. With his band, Anthony and the Johnsons, he made an album called I Am a Bird Now, with a song called "Bird Gehrl":

I am a bird girl now
I've got my heart
Here in my hands now
I've been searching
For my wings some time
I'm gonna be born
Into soon the sky
'Cause I'm a bird girl
And the bird girls go to heaven
I'm a bird girl
And the bird girls can fly
Bird girls can fly

If Anthony can be a bird girl, Jack being a regular girl seemed easy in comparison. Like Jack, Anthony is not a exactly crossdresser and he is not a transsexual. He is a woman--and a bird--living in a man's body.

Continuing in this vein, my brain fills with ideas for situations where Jack's inner woman could spread her wings, so to speak. Because the more we talk and the more I read, the more certain I am that this is what it takes to get to grips with the dysphoria. And that is what I want for my darling. This is the next part. Something we haven't done before, something that makes us both insecure, where we can't rely on experience.

We will start with having a look at the dysphoria together. It was his secret for so long. Now he can allow himself to feel it fully and I will be there to hold him, to comfort him. I don't know what to expect and it could be anything. These feelings have been hidden away for so long, they might come to the surface in a jumble. We'll see. Once there is a space for the dysphoria, it can be examined. When we know what triggers it and what eases it, hopefully we can formulate a strategy.

Making a new start, we need new words and new habits. Knowing that he was uncomfortable with his body, I used to let him know when he looked especially good, complementing him on everything from his nice ass to his sophisticated wardrobe. Now I know that this was in reality counter productive, emphasizing the masculinity he didn't identify with. Instead, I need to find other things to focus my positive attention on. I am learning to observe and appreciate his feminine side and to allow it room to be expressed.

We are already discussing shared projects. He has the blog where he writes about crossdreaming and has invited me to participate, possibly as a guest writer, possibly as a co-editor. This way I can continue to learn about Jack and more about the world of trans and in the process.

Crossdressing and roleplaying works for a lot of crossdreamers. It doesn't for Jack and I'm realizing this is a disappointment to me. I know it would be challenging and that I don't fully know what I am talking about, but it would be a way for the feminine side to express itself and provide release for the dysphoria.

However, we do have our recently re-discovered sex life and I know he has lots of fantasies. He is, after all, a crossdreamer. Maybe some of them are of a nature that makes it possible for us to share them? Would he want that?

Three weeks have passed and we are up to the moment of writing. Now that the shock is behind me, I am gathering my strength, courage and creativity. I know we can do this and I know it will be hard work, but I am looking forward to finding out what the future brings us.

 See my list of articles, sites, books and resources for spouses of trans people.

62 comments:

  1. I know only too well how difficult this all is and I assure you that Jack like myself did not ask for this. It is part of our biology and we are both committed to dealing with the dysphoria within the context of our male bodies. Crossdressing works for me and in its absence I would feel very strongly compelled to transition as the pressure would build to a strong crescendo that I would not be able to support.

    There are no magic formulas for any of us and we all have our own struggles but I hope for both of you that you can make things work and build upon the life you have built together.

    Despite the challenges its worth it.

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  2. Thank you both for your kind words. And yes, Joanna, it is definitely worth it.

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  3. Sally,

    Thanks for the your wonderful narrative. I have struggled, like Jack, with this for years. Like him I have kept this hidden from my wife, not knowing how to ever breach the subject in a way that wouldn't destroy our relationship. I guess my hope is that she would stumble on it like you did and reach the same conclusions.

    I can now see a possible way out. Your writings could lead her down the same path you followed and maybe avoid the nasty dead ends that could turn her against me.

    Thanks again,

    Lindsay

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  4. Thank you for your thoughtful words, Lindsay. I wish you the best of luck!

    Warm regards,
    Sally

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  5. My narrative started as a crossdreamer, well before I found this blog. I enjoyed the insight and guidance as I was fell deeper into exploring my gender and my dysphoria.

    I came out to my wife about two years ago, and started my medical transition about ten months ago. My wife and I love each other as much as we always have, and even more so now. We have decided to stay together. It's not even a matter of trying to work it out, but rather we are willing to do anything we need because we love each other.

    I am very happy that you have taken the news well. I wouldn't be where I am now without Jack, and I wish you two the very best for the upcoming months and years.

    With love, Aubrey/Neotecha

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  6. Aubrey/Neotecha,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is encouraging to know that there are others out there who are succeeding at what we are setting out to do.

    I am glad this blog and the community around it has been good for you. I hope it will be a place where I too can find knowledge and fellowship.

    Love,
    Sally

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  7. I had to shed a tear of joy when reading this...

    Thank you for your deeply felt words (you have a talent as a writer!) and your honesty. Reading stories like yours and Jack's continues to encourage my belief that there is still true love in the world. Not the true love of romance and fantasy shown in the movies, but the true love which means doing everything within one's reach to make our partner happy (and, likewise, our partner making precisely the same thing — it's a win-win situation). You illustrate precisely what it means.

    You both have now a hugely complex situation ahead of you — but now it's a common project. I'm sure you have both dealt with difficult issues before. After 25 years of such a close relationship, it's clear to me that it's not the first time you see an obstacle in your lives, and struggle — together, with confidence in each other — to overcome it. Your common history is one of sticking together and deal with whatever comes. Therefore I'm sure that you both will find some common ground where both can continue to be happy just as before.

    And it's so great that now you can both be very open about it — both to each other, and generously also being open about it to the world. You're certainly excellent role models for us all!

    On my side, I can consider myself to have a very open minded and tolerant wife — although she's not overly happy about my crossdressing and does not encourage me at all (rather the contrary). Still, it took me some 7 years to 'reveal' myself; like you and Jack, my wife easily saw beyond my 'surface appearance' and what interests her is what's beneath. But she certainly keeps me in check! I try to slowly push the limits, but I do it as slowly as it's comfortable for her (meaning years, not days or weeks).

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  8. Thank you, Sandra, for your wise words. Yes, the situation is complex. We are both quite exhausted at this point... But we have each other, we feel closer now than ever before. The new openness has done this and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I am glad you too have someone who sees you and love you for who you are. Good luck!

    Sally

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  9. Sally, what do you think of the majority of us, for whom this isn't about transgender issues and is simply an unfortunate fetish?

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  10. I haven't met anyone to whom this is just a fetsih. I am convinced that this is a very complex issue and that gender and sexuality are inextricably intertwined.

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  11. That view is quite understandable if your basis of familiarity is through the crossdream discourse. Sadly this space is notorious for suppressing dissenting opinion, that is why I can only recommend that you check out something like the crossdreaming group on reddit. Good luck

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  12. Ah, wxhlyup, wxhlyup, wxhlyup! There are absolutely no limits to how far you are willing to go, are there?

    Info to new readers: "Anonymous" AKA wxhlyup has been banned from this blog because of his systematic invalidation of trans people. He is basically reducing all trans women to sissy fetishists suffering from emasculation traumas.

    Those who are interested in what wxhlyup has to say about me and my so-called "censorship", can read his blog here.

    As regards this blog, that discussion is over.

    I am not going to remove these two comments, however, as they can serve as an extreme example of the kind of invalidation trans people have to overcome, even within their own community.

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  14. wxhlyup is trying to reboot an extremely destructive discussion, and I am not going to let that happen on this blog.

    Beyond that, wxhylup is living in a democratic country and can make his voice heard elsewhere.

    The reddit discussion he is referring to can be found here.

    Go away wxhylup! I do not want you anywhere near me or my family!

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  15. To the rest of you:

    I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support and your helpful comments!

    This has indeed been some eh... exciting... weeks for Sally and me, but we are coping amazingly well, all things considered. I am indeed a very lucky person to have such a wise, loving and understanding wife. I love her very much!

    Right now I believe my major challenge is to be able to embrace and integrated the acceptance she is showing me.

    I can feel them in my muscles, I can feel them in my bones: the decades of social conditioning, telling me that my fundamental sense of self is wrong, humiliating , perverted. I try to take deep breaths, shaking these feelings loose, but I realize now that that will take time.

    The first point of my agenda will be to reconnect with my body, which I abandoned around puberty. At the same time I will do my best to help Sally make sense of it all.

    She tells me that it is "my turn now", which is good. But it must also be her time. We need to share more, not less.

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  16. Jack

    I feel that you are well on your way to healing yourself. It takes a long long time to repair a damaged psyche which has been exposed to all kinds of biases and has imprisoned itself into a way of thinking that does no match our natural inclinations. I hope that you and Sally can work things out in such a way that you can be truer to your own nature while still respecting her wishes and dreams for you as a couple.

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  21. Sally & Jack,

    Thank you so much for sharing. My spouse first shared with me about their gender dysphoria, just a year ago.

    Today my spouse shared with me your post. I know my spouse had read from Jack's blog before, particularly when they were first learning about other trans people & coming to terms with this for themself, but this is the first I have had a chance to read on this blog. It has been a comfort everytime I have come to know (or even just know of) other loving couples in a similar situation. I know so many spouses leave their partners & there are many sad and tragic stories...so I think those of us who have the fortune of staying together in true love are not always heard about much. I never want to worsen others' pain in a support group by talking about how close my partner and I are, how I support them, when others have had so much heartache in their relationships because of this. I think a lot of us who do keep strong relationships are sometimes quiet because of this. But I am running into more and more couples who stay together in beautiful, loving, thriving relationships... and it really is nice to hear from each other & know we are not alone, especially in those early days where you feel so alone & you can't talk to anyone it seems, and even if you could, so few people can really understand what your experiences are like. It is a comfort to hear somebody talk & think, "they know what it is like, they have felt and gone through much the same things." So thank you so much for sharing your thoughts & experiences. I will look forward to what you share in the future. My very best wishes to the two of you!!!

    If I ever do put my own writings down into a blog, I will let you know. Right now my writing about my thoughts & feelings have been scattered through my replies and posts on different support groups. Currently I have been on the Facebook Transgender Alliance (a group with many nice people that is well moderated, I have mostly found.)

    Oh, I just wanted to mention before I sign off, what helped me not feel betrayal that my spouse kept this hidden from me: as they have opened up their thoughts & feelings to me so bravely & raw for me to see, I have come to get a glimpse & understanding of what an incredibly difficult and impossible situation they were born into in this world that gives every reason for a trans person to need to bury these truths about themselves deeply...to the point that they have trouble understanding it themselves, and that the potential consequences of "coming out" once they finally begin to understand themselves, put them in a situation where it is almost impossible to know what the best thing to do is, for everyone involved, including those they love more than their own self. If I truly think about what it would be like if I had gone through what they have, I can not fault them in the least for how they have handled things. They are doing the best they can in an impossible situation, and I know they have never made a decision for lack of love or consideration for me. If anything, I know they are aware of the pain this situation may cause me, & have suffered 1,000 times the anguish of it for their love for me and their worry of being the cause of any of my distress. They have been placed into an impossible situation, and fully understanding it, I am amazed at how they have managed & their is no doubt of their love and thoughtfulness of me in this situation. So with all this, any feelings or thoughts of hurt over them keeping a secret no longer make sense & just have no place in my heart in the face of it all. At least this is how it was for me.

    Much love to you both,

    Felice

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  22. An additional resource for partners of trans* people is on reddit at /r/mypartneristrans. They are a great little community, although I don't know whether they are oriented towards crossdressers or crossdreamers as well. I hope at least one person can find some additional support from this site.

    - Aubrey

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  23. Dear Felice,

    Thank you so much for your thorough and very sweet answer. It is indeed a comfort to know of other couples coping with this. I am happy to hear from you and happy for you and your spouse!

    I would love to get in touch with you. If you would like to, you can contact me on sally.molay@gmail.com

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  24. Dear Aubrey,

    Thank you very much for letting me know about the partner resource at Reddit. It i certainly a treasure trove of information.

    All the best!

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  25. Sally,
    What a remarkable post! One which resonates strongly with my partner and I.
    My SO is now several years into the realisation/discovery of my AGP fetish and it has been very hard for both of us.

    --Simon

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  26. Hey Sally, a very good article!

    I just wanted to rephrase what Anonymous said and let you know there are people for whom it is solely a sexual thing.. I very much enjoy living a very typical male life without any dysphoria.. like Jack has meantioned, its a very complex spectrum and like yourself ive too spent hundreds of hours researching this just out of curiousity..

    My girlfriend and i have a typical sex-life where im dominant, only rarely have i had fantasies of having sex as a woman, most of the time i have vanilla fantasies.. i dont know, i guess its up to everyone to decide whether its a fetish or not but i would say most people are slightly gender variant for occasional crossdreams or sexual fantasies of this kind to maybe happen..

    I have wondered about whether i would bring this up with my gf in the past, it doesnt seem at all important but it could be pretty hot to try role-switching .. have you enjoyed it? As a fellow scandinavian i would guess most people are open minded to try new things like this..

    However, i know for sure that the dysphoria Jack and many others here suffer from is real and like yourself i dont know how it feels nor would i know how to take it if my gf suddently would come out.. but i salute you for being that open minded!
    Maybe you're the main reason why him transitioning is out of the question. The more you show him love towards the woman he really is from time to time,the more you will be in the forefront in his life, even over transitioning..

    Take care and dont give up!

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  27. Hey Sam!

    Thank you for your comment. Your story is interesting and it is good to get to know different aspects of this complex issue.

    I agree with you that most people are slightly gender variant. This is a sliding scale, shades of grey, not black and white.

    The sexual part of this, we are working out nicely, I think. If that was all there was to it, there would be no problem.

    That still leaves the dysphoria and that is a serious issue. So much of Jack's life is tainted by it. If transition can remedy that, I am all for it. At the moment, this doesn't seem to be a relevant option.

    All the best!

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  30. I read your piece with tears running down my face. He is me in so many ways. You amaze me. I want so much for this to work for you.
    He wants to be a beautiful woman not a cross dressing man. In his fantasies he can see himself as a beautiful woman. Crossdressing will be a vile alternative. This is the trap we find ourselves in.
    I think you can make progress by discussing and participating in his fantasy in whichever way works for you both. This could also really enhance your intimate relationship.

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  31. My wife found on open crossdreaming web page on my iPad. She spent some time researching before confronting me. I had little choice but to come out to her. She found it really hard at first but I do feel a lot of what she has read has misinformed her since. She is convinced that I am a woman inside and that I repress her to portray a male. I just dont feel thats true. I am feeling a lot of pressure to allow this inner woman to express herself in a small way to begin with. No doubt some blog post has suggested that.
    The thing is crossdreaming is actually a really intensely private and personal thing and not something many want to share. I was caught out and I'm sorry its hurt my wife. I dont want to crossdress, transition, change gender and least of all hurt anyone. I love my wife and Im a crossdreamer. I think it could have stayed like that till death do us part.

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  32. This story is baloney it's a work of fiction. The "dream" is that ANY wife of a cross dreamer would be so effusive and accepting. Totally unreal

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  33. @Kelli281 I am very much real and I am saddened you find it so hard to beleive. I know many crossdreamers struggle with their family, but not everyone is. There are all kinds of couples. We may be an unlikely one, but we're here, and in the year since I wrote this post, I have come across the stories of others.

    Since I wrote this post, Jack and I have grown closer and our lives are much better for sharing this. I am planning to write an update, so stay tuned :)

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  34. Sally,

    I read your story here, and it was almost entirely like that between my wife and I, which occurred about the same time last year, in June. The only difference was that I told her that I had the dysphoria and had periodically (with deep shame) crossdressed from time to time when I needed to. But that now it was growing and I needed to tell her.

    Well, our story started much like yours. My wife and I have been very much in love for over 20 years and I cared about her deeply. I was terrified to tell her, but once the dysphoria really kicked in hard, I felt I had no choice. We also had two children. And initially, she reacted brilliantly, and was the picture of acceptance, helped me with my feminine image, embraced it very firmly and insisted that we just had to model acceptance and that people would follow. I was not so convinced but was so relieved to have told her and not immediately ended up divorced that I tried my part, and we both tried really hard.

    I needed to continue to work in "boy mode" but presented in "girl mode" at home and socially from then on - to try and get used to life. Almost in the least transitioned state, to see really how hostile the world would be.

    And it was not. No-one threw rocks at me. No-one was overtly unpleasant, although I did get politely read by many/some, and I always felt uncomfortable to a degree. But I am extremely fortunate that as a guy I could still present well enough initially to be relatively passable.

    However, the discomfort between she and I grew and grew. And with the children, they wanted to accept it, but it was hard, and they could also sense the discomfort growing between us. I started gently transitioning with hormones, on a gentle basis, to see how it would feel. If I did really just need to "let go" more as I was being advised, and wanted to believe. But this started me into an uncontrolled transition as the feminisation started to happen really quickly. I knew I needed to stop, as I wasn't ready to commit to that so quickly. I knew I wanted to believe it would all be fine, and that I would end up as the woman I could visualise within, but reality was crashing in all around me and my world was slowly coming undone.

    My wife and I had to separate. The rest of the issues in our life started to become a factor, so that this became "another" issue to deal with. We both had worked hard to make our relationship work for over 20 years, and in the most part, we did well - as we were really in love and extremely close friends. But it unwound then quite fast, and now we are all in bits.

    I realised that transition was not the right thing for me to be doing right now, so have paused/stopped/reconsidered if it is really going to "fix" me. There are no silver bullets..... and for some transition is successful, or at least people need to believe that it is, as the difficulty of doing so is immense. But many are still confused and unhappy post transition, and there are no guarantees that you will "pass" well enough for this issue to ever permanently go away. We aren't all going to end up like Carmen Carrera, sadly!

    But I really admire what you are doing, or at least trying to do. To show genuine love. I felt that from my wife for the 9 months it lasted, and it helped enormously. It was a soft landing for me.

    We are now living apart and I am just trying to make sure that I work hard and continue to provide for my family. Which then requires that I don't transition either, as that will become an issue for me in my circumstances.

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  35. Sally is back on Monday. Stand by...

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  36. Jack,

    I do hope that you realise that none of my comments are meant to do anything other than hopefully help and inform both you and others. And to share my experience of this painful condition and it's treatment options.

    I love my wife more than I can express, and I always have. Hurting her and the children has been the worst experience of my life. Bar nothing. But I have had little control over this, and I wish I did. But my dysphoria is growing and I can't make it stop. I wish I had faith that transitioning will actually do so, but I am getting to the point of realising that it is probably the only option I have. I can't now sign up willingly for anther 40 years of dysphoria now that it is out. It's unmanageable now.

    Your wife sounds lovely, and has an amazing heart. I know mine is too and she really tried. But ultimately you cannot make someone come to accept this, they either will or they won't. Actually, the person finding it hardest to come to terms with this is me. I am dying inside trying to accept that I may have to become that transitioning female that I desperately have tried to avoid confronting. But even on the lesser level, my wife couldn't get there.

    I don't blame her. Indeed my sincere hope is that after we both manage to walk this part of our journey alone, we can reconnect in some way, on a different basis. As she has been my soul mate for over 20 years. But right now, standing next to her and the kids and trying to come to terms with who I am, as a trans female, was just too hard. For us both. So it snapped. I hope that is will be fixable in some way in the future. We both still love each other. But this part, needs time.

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  37. Oh, and last thing. The idea that you can let go of your male persona easily must apply to some people, but it hasn't been like that at all for me. I have been relatively successful as a male, and I have also fathered children which has been the most blessing experience of my life, and I cannot imagine my life without them. Or my wife. For the time we had. Or my life as a bloke. A lot of it was good. But I was still desperate to be a girl on the inside all along. I just didn't know that I could/would/should/needed to.

    So, I am trying to come to terms with what I may well have to do, and giving us all some time to breathe. And recover from the shock and initial response she had, before it all started turning to anguish.

    Take care and my very best wishes to you both. At least writing this has helped me a little. I do admit to being quite alone at the moment. I have good friends, but this is really an internal battle as you I am sure know only too well.

    Given how little of your life is actually defined strictly by gender, why is this so fundamental to us that we all cannot wish it away. I know I have tried, and I know I have searched for other answers. But I guess your sense of internal identity is just too important.....

    Best to you both.

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  38. Don't worry! I appreciate the input! But since your comment was directed to her, I would like her to respond first.

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  39. Thanks Jack.

    As an aside, having now read a lot more of your site, are you trying to distinguish between "crossdreaming"/AGP as a primarily erotic/sexual need, from the general body dysphoria/social dysphoria of a TS (I know that all these definitions are a nighmare!).

    I have just read quite a bit about both situations and I think that at least for me, the primary dysphoria is physical, and hence affecting the way I am allowed to present and interact with the world. But a secondary AGP element is also present. But I would imagine that is just part of seeing yourself as the woman you really wish to be if you are TS and feeling aroused in your "true" self image. I would imagine is was hard to be TS and not perhaps have these feelings, which may or may not be the same as AGP/CD fantasies in non-TS people.

    Guess we are all just having to figure things out for ourselves. I just wish every morning I would wake up as a beautiful woman. And be able to wear what I like, behave how I like, interact with other women as friends, and be treated as "normal" and attractive. Not sure how I feel about male attention (which I have had when cross dressed) as I am not looking for that at all. Flipped me out the first time it happened.....

    What a muddle!

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  40. "As an aside, having now read a lot more of your site, are you trying to distinguish between "crossdreaming"/AGP as a primarily erotic/sexual need, from the general body dysphoria/social dysphoria of a TS"

    There was a need for a non-toxic word to describe one facet of the transgender experience that too often is ignored or suppressed, because it is seen as abnormal. Since the 19th century Western culture has been obsessed with the need to sort "normal" sex from the "abnormal", turning natural variation into disease.

    This pathologization of trans is just another way of disciplining us all; to stop us from threatening the basis of of the traditional heterosexual "missionary position" life style. This threat of shaming and excluding is extremely effective, and explains why so many transgender people repress their alternative identity.

    If we stop looking at sexuality as something separate from everything else bioloogical or cultural, it becomes much easier to see that crossdreaming is another way for the psyche to express its repressed sides. That is: crossdreaming gives the "inner woman" (or "inner man") a voice -- if we allow ourselves to use that metaphor.

    There are other ways of expressing gender variance: crossdressing, role playing, writing, artistic expression, mannerisms, gender stereotypical interests, and so on. Indeed, it is often hard to keep these types of expressions apart, and they appear in many combinations in the lives of transgender people.

    Like you, I am convinced that there are biological components among the many factors causing gender dysphoria. If that is the case, it is natural to assume that those biological factors have deep and primitive roots, and that sexuality and the sexual drive are parts of this. This also supports the idea that crossdreaming is a natural part of transgender lives.

    However, I don't think this has to be a strict binary, male/female, phenomenon. There are different degrees of gender dysphoria and a wide variety of how gender variance plays out.

    So in other words: The word crossdreaming is not meant to establish a completely separate category of transgender people. It is meant to help us discuss one of many ways of expressing cross-gender identities.

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  41. Thank you so much for your open hearted and warm comments. I am so glad you shared your story. Jack and I have been going through this alone and this year has been very stressful in addition to being a wonderful journey of discovery for the both of us. For all this time I have been looking for other couples going through a similar experience, to share stories and information and to support one another. So I am really glad to hear from you, even though your story took a different turn than ours. I am very sorry to hear that you and your wife are struggling. I hope you figure this out.

    You are not alone. This site and the fourm Crossdream Life has many others experiencing cross dreaming and/or dysphoria. This is a supporting community with a lot of smart and caring people.

    You write: "The idea that you can let go of your male persona easily must apply to some people, but it hasn't been like that at all for me. I have been relatively successful as a male, and I have also fathered children which has been the most blessing experience of my life, and I cannot imagine my life without them. Or my wife. For the time we had. Or my life as a bloke. A lot of it was good. But I was still desperate to be a girl on the inside all along. I just didn't know that I could/would/should/needed to."

    Minus the kids, that is our situation as well. A year ago I was getting mentally ready for the transition and I felt it was the only right thing to do after all the years of carrying this secret around and putting the inner woman on hold. I was looking forward to getting to know her!

    Despite the cross dreaming and the dysphoria, Jack has a whole life as a man: a successful job, network, friends etc. This is hard to let go of for him. He also feels he has been projecting maleness for so long, switching modes to femininity would be hard as well as scary. Then there is internalised transphobia. There is a lot of shame buried in his heart and we are slowly chipping away at that.

    So at the moment we are going for what I think of as transition with a little t. Jack is still presenting as a man and has no plans to change this. But when it is just the two of us, I have switched pronouns. I have started to think of us as a little sisterhood - the two of us and our cat.


    Keep in touch. And hang in there. I am rooting for you!

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  42. Sally,

    Thanks for the reply and I do really wish the two of you (and the cat!) the very best. Dealing with these issues is just plain hard.

    I am also almost certain that after spending a year crashing through this new world, learning as much as I can, that no two situations are exactly the same. And when it is so hard to even articulate to yourself, the idea of being able to articulate it well externally, and then compare notes, is just a myth. There is no wonder that people default to this notion of "girl trapped in a man's body". It's just easier to explain like that.

    But of course it isn't. The brain is the most complex network we can (not even yet) possibly imagine. It is wired in basic at birth at a level we can barely comprehend. Then it grows and develops amazingly, and forms itself from the biological chemicals within us (hormones and others), all of our experiences, and our own self learning (perceptions etc). It is impossible that two brains are alike, so the idea that this is identical for us all is also impossible.

    But to me, I believe that one thing is clear after my painful year of soul searching. There is a biological element. Supported by the post mortem findings. But if you take a brain with a conceptual female wiring pattern (i.e. it's self identity, or part thereof) and subject it to 10-50 years of male hormones and experience, it will be wired not as a woman, and not as a more CIS gendered typical man, but as something different again. I started to take the hormones earlier this year for 4 months (paused before physical effects became too dramatic - not ready for that yet) and the difference it was starting to make was astonishing. Like putting different fuel in an engine. I didn't have long before I needed to pause, but long enough to appreciate quite how huge an impact on the brain this has in terms of thinking patterns etc. I didn't learn to use the new toolkit yet either, but it is clearly different. It is impossible for me to know if 40 years of that female hormone you have, and 40 years experience as a girl, working on that initial wiring, would have resulted in my having a different sense of self identity. But I am absolutely confident it would have.

    What seems to be so painful about this condition is therefore the counterfactual of that. Despite 40-50-70 years of tipping male hormones on top of transsexual brains, the brain still screams out that there is a female element, or that it is female underneath. You don't seem to be able to drown it out even with all the "male" upbringing, hormone and self identity (persona) layered on top. It is just there. I guess it must just vary in strength between us.

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  43. Just had to do in two parts as it has a text limit.

    So, in terms of a couple relationship, this is really hard to deal with. I feel that as a spouse, despite how hard this must be for you, and for my wife, you aren't dealing with someone who "is a woman and lied", you are dealing with someone who actually is a man, but who potentially should have grown up as a woman. This is a different condition to strict male/female. There are positive elements to this in terms of personality matching potentially in some ways, but there are big issues as well and that is hard wired into your brain as much as it is into his. You weren't programmed to be attracted to an in between state. There are billions of years of genetic biology and selection built into our human brains. The human need to procreate is the single most pressing drive in all of us. Although I don't like the terminology used by some of the people in this field, from a civilised society point of view, all these complex outcomes are not well understood, nor why they continue to persist (and have not been ruled out by natural selection?)

    And at least in my circumstances, I didn't know that I did feel different to other men. How could you? You have no concept of someone else's perception, only what they tell you. Do you feel like a man or a woman is also a terribly simplistic question. You are (at least I am) part of both, clearly. I am XY (as are all other TS women or you wouldn't have physically turned out as a boy) and have male hormone in higher quantities than a woman (in my case, only marginally so as it turned out). So I am a boy. And a large part of my brain will have been wired like that, by both chemical and environmental impact. But part of my internal wiring is screaming "but you should look like a girl". Ever noticed how many late transition TS females continue to be quite "manly" in manner and function? Clearly because their brains have already been significantly wired that way by that time.

    The transition element is where it gets really hard though. And I empathise with Jack as your situation does sound similar to mine. If you have happy, thriving male persona, even if it is arduous to maintain on some level, then transition represents near social suicide. There is no point sugar coating it. What you have to do, if you want to really cross the gender boundary and be accepted as a woman, is huge. Terrifying. And also entirely dependent on your initial male anatomy, which is pot luck. But at best, you will always be a converted man. Can't beat that. The question is how well that will pan out, based on your initial physiology and age. Young, barely through male puberty, slight and fine featured - you are in luck. Good odds. Some transition and look astonishingly good as women. Old, muscular, large skeletal frame - well, you are not realistically going to have such a good outcome. And nobody is going to be able to change that for you more than the limits of science today.

    So transition is a huge gamble, if you are able to function today as a man. The question is, can you do that forever? Is the dysphoria mild enough to cope with? Will it get worse (mine has, it just wasn't like this before), and what will happen to you if you try to cross and yet don't end up anything like the picture in your mind's eye? Will that potentially be even worse? It will clearly have a social impact, potentially a large one. Do you have to get to the point where you are so desperate you don't care anymore what the level of impact is? Many TS's "go" after significant elements of their life have changed and they feel the downside is more manageable (retired, kids grown up, lost parents etc).

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  44. Anyway, sorry, perhaps I went off piste slightly, but I think it highlights the level of difficulty for someone with gender dysphoria/crossdreaming et al, and for their partner. At the end of the day though, the person with GD cannot chose to walk away. The spouse can. Those are very different levels of problem.

    I really think what you are doing is admirable, and I do hope that you find a way to make it work. Some do. I don't know how. Maybe we will re-connect down the line, but if I transition, I doubt it. If I don't, I am still unsure. I can't lose my kids if I don't want to be lost to them, but at the end of the day, they may not want to see me either if I transition. Although really hard, the time apart we are having is at least giving us both space to breathe again after such a hard year. But you also obviously then run the risk that it becomes far easier to get used to that as the new normal, than try and go back. You can never go back, only move forwards. And forwards for us is likely to be apart. At least as husband and wife. It is so sad I can hardly think about it. But I haven't had much choice in the GD and I don't get much choice in this either. I will love her forever, even if I have had to let her go, as was her choice. If you truly love someone, as I do, that's what you have to do if that's what they want to do. It is her right, and hers alone. All I can do is mourn the loss and remember the good times. No idea what happens to me now. Her longer term outcome is probably more predictable as it has a little more precedent. I hope she can find happiness again after all this, even if it isn't with me.

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  45. Oh, apologies, one last thing, perhaps more for Jack too.

    On transition and presently female. I don't actually find that particularly hard, I think he would find it was far easier than he thinks. Once you start to let go, it just happens, slightly, more and more. You don't have to force it, you just let go of the male one a bit!

    However, despite being relatively lucky physiology wise (i.e. I am 5'9" and skinny), and being fortunate at work, thus allowing me to have an elegant femail wardrobe, and with my hair and makeup done well, I will still walk into everywhere I go and am either "read" or will have someone refer to me as "sir". Which is not usually meant aggressively (sometimes is) although it is completely thoughtless. It's just that the male facial genetic markers are strong, and "passing" and living comfortably as a woman takes more than just demeanour, manner and makeup. You can't just become so "self acutalised" that it suddenly all goes away. Not unless you are remarkably lucky and looked like a girl initially. Which almost no-one does.

    So what's involved in transition is quite scary. I couldn't go through life like that, being treated like that every day. And the idea it wouldn't have a negative impact on work/social/other is just silly. It would, it just depends what you are willing to put up with and where you work/socialise I guess. Or you have to go through some fairly scary surgery. With a huge leap of faith presumably that you will come out of it OK and passable. What impact that also has on you psychologically I don't know, but I bet it's not easy to come to terms with.....

    Good luck to you both. I really hope the best for you and your cat. I hope that me and my little family will all be OK too, in one way or another. Life is strange. It does feel particularly hard right now, but things do always move on..... I guess I can't live in trauma forever so there has to be an end point coming up.....

    Best. (sorry to keep things Anon!)

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  46. @Anonymous,

    I think you are absolutely right that the fact that we have been raised as men will influence the way we live our lives as women, if we should choose to transition. And no, it will not be easy.

    But this line of reasoning often leads to the conclusion that our true gender is the sum of all our upbringing and life experiences. This is what the trans-exclusionary radical feminists argue. Trans women are not women because they have not been brought up as women, not been "socially constructed" as women.

    Yet there they are, all the trans women, defying such a simplistic explanation. And I guess, this is what you are saying too: There is something deeper, biological and inborn even, that gives us this strong conviction that deep inside, somewhere down there, there is something that forces us to express this "womanhood" (whatever it is) and makea us suffer from not being able to play out our lives as women.

    And we should never forget that a lot of trans women succeeds in spite of the social odds, living strong, happy, lives as women. The forces that want to erase trans lives do not want us to see them, because their lives tell us that another world is possible: A world where trans kids and trans youth are allowed to express their true selves, and where they are allowed to chose the life they really want for themselves.

    This is why I hesitate when I see you write: "I am a boy". If you had been a boy, in the sense I have described it here, there would be no problem. I really like what Felix says about this.

    As for the real world, I have -- as far as my own life is concerned (which will often be of no relevance to other trans people on different life trajectories) -- that I will be unable let my "inner woman" live the kind of life she deserves. This is not about giving up a successful career as a man. I have lived an interesting and meaningful life, but being forced to play the role of a stranger does not make you happy. I would have given it all away in a heart beat if I believed there was any chance I could realize her dreams.

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  47. Hi Jack,

    Thanks for the replies from both of you, which make interesting reading and I do also appreciate the support. It is, as you know, quite a lonely place to be this. But not as lonely as you might fear. All of my friends and social acquaintances have seen me in my present female guise, which is as unaided as it gets, and yet despite my feelings of looking awful, they have been nothing other than kind. Of course it takes some getting used to all around, but it's not that bad. What I don't think works is to do that in perpetuity. I will have to chose.

    I see your point on some of the definitions, and if I have used any differently to you and caused confusion, then I apologise (ref your "I am a boy" remark), but also your comments about the GG girl feminists putting down trans women. You know, people have always tried to define themselves either in any grouping, or between grouping, by difference rather than just similarity. i.e. if you can distinguish yourself from another group (particularly by superiority) then this is a self confidence building identity claim. If you can be superior even to your own grouping, then this is the same again. It is hurtful to the other group, clearly. But it is natural and time immorial. Not "civilised" necessarily, but naturally occurring nonetheless. Hence you get GG feminists putting down Trans women. But also within GG women, you have women putting down other women for a variety of reasons too (looks, intelligence, behaviour, deportment etc). They just want you to be bottom of their list! Imagine their horror when one pops up from time to time looking stunning (better than they do!) like Carmen Carrera, or Tula etc., or brighter and more successful (Martine Rothblat - highest paid female CEO last year in the US was a trans woman - bet they loved that!). It's like the Monty Python sketch where they define "class" and all try to define themselves in priority to one another.

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  48. But to the point of trans women being less "women" than GG women - don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that they are, not least as I think I am one! But, it simply isn't the same to be XX and full of Estrogen with minimal T, and to be XY with lots of Testosterone but "some" or "full" female brain wiring. The developmental impact on these two brains is going to be different. It is not to say that one is more or less valid than the other, but they will undeniably be different in certain ways. Whether or not they are different in what people use to define "femaleness" or nor is the point. How do you define femininity? Brain wiring is hard to examine pre post mortem, your physiology is not. So using internal wiring as a definition might be purest to those of us wanting to define ourselves as women, but it is not practical as far as wider society is concerned.

    Both sexes are naturally wired to be able to read gender quickly and accurately from a limited amount of information, as almost one of the first defining features of another human. I.e. crudely, mate or rival. Clearly loads of subsequent non breeding outcomes here (all non viable errors), but the initial read is usually fast and accurate. Of course sometimes it is a little cloudy, but that's rare. People don't even necessarily know how they do it. We probably have more idea as we are in the area of trying to work out why and work around some of these issues (i.e. transition). Hence we can understand the facial differences etc as well as physical differences that people read unconsciously.

    So, this will be the innately logical way of defining "woman", "man" or "feminine" etc. And it is overwhelmingly correct statistically. We are talking about the less than 1% incidence rate of Trans type identity. No-one has accurate stats for this, but lets say 0.5-1.0% is already a good, generous number. That is still statistically insignificant to 2 standard deviations from the mean. So even at one deviation from the mean (only 68% accurate, or 32% "errors") people would read "male or female" quite accurately, at 99% it is really accurate. Arguing about the less than 1% is always going to be irrelevant to most people, and hence they are not doing anything to be mean, it just goes automatically into the "there's something incorrect there" category as it is so far outside the mean (over 2 standard deviations) that their brain recognises the "error" quickly, and they either scan for more information, or move on (disregard).

    So when you get into trans women and their right to femininity, this is hard. I am sure that it is important to consider such things, but it will probably never resolve. Will I, for example, as a potentially transitioned female, be more or less female than my sister? Does it matter is more the question to me?

    My thoughts on that are; firstly, as long as I am able to be comfortable socially, either by being perceived as a woman, or by no-one caring (the former being most likely and hence hopeful!), then it doesn't matter what my claim to being a woman is. Do I let go my claim to being a man? I am still XY and have a male skeleton and a brain that has had the (benefit??!!) of 40 years of testosterone influenced wiring? And then secondly, is my gender as "trans woman" or just "transgendered" actually beneficial to me and/or others? i.e. is my experience of crossing the genders, and having been influenced by both hormones and all the other factors, beneficial, positive or useful in any way? To me or others?

    I am sure that it is, as long as I don't end up in some terrible in between state where I am not socially comfortable. They I would imagine it is just f-ing hard. But if in theory I can cross comfortably, then I would argue that the key to my really finding self acceptance is to come to see the unique benefits in that relative to someone normally CIS gendered.

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  49. Now I bet that is going to be hard, until and unless I feel I have successfully crossed and am settled in another gender socially. But I will have suffered great losses to get there, and so will some of the people closest to me (my family), and those will stay with me and them forever.

    But what if there genuinely is a positive element to this? I seem to have been able to build an extremely loyal, stable, honourable group of people with whom I work, where people really like working and feel I am "different" to most bosses. Good! The ones I had were rubbish! Easy to better that low threshold! But seriously, my ability to do what I do will in part be precisely because I am trans. I am the only one with my particular skill set at work, in terms of people skills and finance. I didn't know why necessarily before, but it stood out in terms of my peers by a mile. Maybe there is something in that. Maybe the way I can relate or talk to my children on one level is a product of this too? My understanding of the differences between the genders and the social interactions underlying them all is clearly influenced by my ability to cross dress acceptably enough to have been assimilated into enough "female only" conversations that you can really start to see the different relationship levels at play versus in a male-female conversation etc.

    So, there is no denying this is hard. But I think that people trying to define themselves so desperately is natural, but ultimately futile. We are all like snowflakes. But it is too hard for the human brain to process "everyone in the world is unique" - it would overload. So it "groups" items by similarity and difference - to help make sense of the world. Sometimes these are incorrect, or unhelpful to a group affected by it (trans, and a million others types of issue), but in the main they are not unhelpful. And just because you are trans, and don't like that happening on that level to you - your brain is doing no differently in other spheres to form understanding. You still group by age, gender, race, height, language, and a million other factors. You don't JUDGE, but you group. Judging is prejudice. Grouping is natural and a logical organisation of the human brain.

    I think that you will get these arguments forever within and about the trans community. "I am more trans than you...." etc. Attracted to women or attracted to men? Is one "more trans"? Does either alter your "womanliness"? Does how long you went pre transition (i.e. pre Estrogen) alter your "womanliness"?

    Don't worry. All that is really hard about this is that there is a mismatch between brain wiring on one level, and physical anatomy on another. And that you can't completely change. If you could just take the hormones and completely alter and become identical to a GG, then it would be different. But you cannot. You will always be "both" to some degree. Surely?

    Best to you and your good lady, and all those others out there struggling like us. We are not alone. But this is hard. No silver bullets unfortunately......

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  50. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences! I am very glad to hear that it is not as lonely as you had thought. I am also happy for you that you have new, solid friends. I went to a crisis some years ago (depression, anxiety...). The people that stuck with me through that are my most precious treasures. And it is a real, true strength to know who your friends are and have someone you can rely on. We don't have children, but I don't need first hand experience to understand how important it is for you to be able to relate closely and talk openly to your children. That is great news.

    Much of the other questions/comments you write are more directed at Jack than at me, so he will get back to you when he has a chance.

    X

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  51. Sally, how dare you refer to Jack by the incorrect pronoun? Shame on you. Have some bloody respect!

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  52. @Anonymous,

    Leave the pronouns to us. I present as a man, and in that context I do not expect anyone to use female pronouns when addressing me. Sally has asked me if I want her to use female pronouns, and I have said no. She respects me for who I am. That's what matters.

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  53. @Anonymous,

    If you read the actual post, you will see that I write about the pronouns and the way we have settled it. It might not be the way you would have preferred it, but it is our way. If you take a step back and concider it -- does it seem likely that I would misgender my spouse out of spite or malice after everything I write in the post?

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  54. Thanks Sally & Jack.

    I really appreciate the feedback from you both. What a difficult set of circumstances to have to deal with really. I wish I could just let go enough to actually be able to address this once and for all - but the associated losses so far have been so hard, it's just so difficult.

    I know what I should do if it was just for me. But it never is that simple is it? There are always others affected by this decision. And the issue I really struggle with on this topic is that it almost seems as if this is a deliberate choice - i.e. transition or not. Which in one sense it is. Sort of. But that means that you are then seen as behaving selfishly if you decide you want to/need to/have to / decide to transition. And if you go, it is necessarily a self absorbed process to a degree. Hard to make that any different. But being selfish is the act of doing something without considering or having any empathy with other people affected by the decision. So, not really selfish per se, but seen as selfish.....

    And as far as pronouns are concerned, I make mistakes myself, so I don't hold other people up to some high standard bar either, so ease up Anon! We all have many things to worry about, and at least to me, that isn't the top of my priority list right now. I think being misgendered post transition would upset me (reflecting that I had not somehow crossed successfully enough to feel comfortable). But right now, I just try to roll with it. If I screw up then I am sure everyone around me will! I am just grateful for their support, I care less about how they refer to me. Just as long as they call me (back)!

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  55. Dear Anonymous,

    It is not selfish to work to be the best and most authentic version of yourself that you can be. Have a look at this article to see what I mean.

    Transitioning within a relationship or family is difficult, but there it can deffinitely be done. I have just posted a blog post with resources for spouses, partners, wives and husbands of transgender people. The sections labelled "Stories" and "Books" both have examples that I find inspiring and enlightening. They might be for you and your wife, too.

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  56. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  57. Dear Jack and Sally,

    What a wonderful and hopeful post! My wife and I have been crossing these troubled waters for years, but only two with her awareness. I am so grateful that she loves and supports me, and also so pleased to have found you both.

    Emma

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  58. I see........thank you for the post.

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  59. Hi Sally,
    Thanks for sharing your experience in discovering Jack's femme side. I have written a little about my relationship with my wife (in CDL) after coming out to her but there is one section of your post where you admitted you were (or could be) attracted to Jack as a woman. This is a sad and frustrating topic for me because my wife cannot reconcile her feelings when Bobbi comes out - even though she has admitted that she is attracted to women as well. One time when we were getting ready to go out she admitted to me a moment of mental conflict she experienced looking at me from the waist down (I think she was staring at my ass) and then panning up and seeing my face. Even with the layers of make up, wig and hairspray she could still see me - and it caused a inner conflict for her. She was feeling an attraction for a femme shape - but it was her hubby.
    Did you ever experience this? Was it hard to reconcile your attraction to Jack as man versus en femme Jack?

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  60. Hi Bobbi,
    I am glad that you and your wife are working (most) things out. Still, it must be hard for both of you that your wife has this "mental conflict", as you call it. For us it is different. Jack doesn't crossdress. Even so, there are subtle changes since he came out to me: I can value his softer, femine ways in out marriage, I can facilitate so he doesn't always have to be "the man": I bring out the toolbox to fix stuff etc. This frees Jack to be more himself, socially. He is more cuddly, has taken a greater interest in cooking etc. It is similar in the bedroom: Often I take the initiative and I cuddle him. I can see and feel his inner lady and this turns me on. It is subtle, but powerful.

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  61. Hi Sally,
    Thank you so much for answering that comment of mine; I was in a strange mood when I asked it and I realize how personal it was. My wife also told me some of the same sort of things you mentioned here, that she appreciates my softer side, and I appreciate it when she takes charge sometimes so I don't always have to "be the man".
    There was a point in my life (back in 2002) when I nearly began HRT - Jack and I have talked about this on CDL. In the end I did not proceed, but my wife said something to me at that time that I thought was very interesting. She said "until you I thought all guys were ass-holes, now I know why." I am paraphrasing but the jist of her point was that she always did see something different in me and after coming out to her as transgender a lot of other things about our relationship started to make more sense to her.

    *hugs* Bobbi

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  62. Dear Bobbi,

    I can relate to "fter coming out to her as transgender a lot of other things about our relationship started to make more sense to her" :) To me it was like finally finding a map to help me navigate our marriage. Relationships like ours can be confusing and challenging, but if both parties dare to be open and vulnerable, it can also be a very rewarding journey.

    Hugs!

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