September 18, 2009

Wife of an autogynephiliac asks for help

Dear readers,

I need your help.

I got a comment today from the wife of an autogynephiliac. She has discovered her husband's "secret identity" and wonders how the two of them are going to cope.

Have any of you been through this? And if so: What did you and your wife or partner do to reestablish trust?

Here is the comment from Susanne:

"oh, thank you for this blog!

I am a heterosexual female who has been married to my husband for 7 years. We have 2 young children. Yesterday, I found photos of him...that were world-altering for me. After some research, I believe him to be an autogynephiliac. Looking back, so much is now explained...

While I am the stereotypical heterosexual female, I like to think of myself as fairly open-minded. I think I could incorporate this into my life, but I'm not sure if HE will allow me to incorporate this. In a weird way, I think this bothers him more than it does me.

And I'm totally upset about the secret life that he has been leading - much more so than by what I saw in the photos. I feel like I have just discovered that he has had an affair for 7 years with someone that he knew before we were married - it just happens that that someone is himself.

My first thought is that we need counseling - both marriage and individual - even he admits that he needs to learn to love himself for who he is, but I still need help regaining marital trust. So much easier said than done in rural Iowa...

Anyway, where do we go from here? I desperately want advice."


This is my response:

"I have seen old maps where the cartographer had decorated the white undiscovered areas with magical beasts and dragons. That's probably where the two of you are now.

There are probably not that many advisers, priests, psychologists or psychiatrists that know much about this. Still, if you know someone wise and friendly with an open mind, I would definitely go and ask for some help -- just to have someone to talk to. If you do not know anyone, it would probably make sense to find a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in sexology. There must be someone -- even in Iowa! You might have to travel a bit, though.

I must say I admire your way of handling this. Your open mind and your acceptance is probably the very factor that can turn all this into something good.

I totally understand that you feel betrayed, and that regaining trust will take time. He has not been cheating on you, though. "The other woman" is, as you point out, part of himself. And the reason he kept it all secret is not that he doesn't love you. It is probably quite the opposite: He was afraid that he would lose you and his family if you found out.

Your understanding will probably go a long way towards helping him accept himself as who he is. If I am not mistaken, though, the other shame -- the one that comes from him having kept you in the dark -- may stay a little longer.

I am not sure if I can add much more to this. I will take the liberty of quoting your comment in a new blog post and ask the readers for input."

Photo by Bright lights from giantwheel


UPDATE ON TERMINOLOGY

Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the terms "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" to describe people. The reason for this is that the terms implicitly communicates an explanation for why some people get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex . This explanation, that this is some kind of autoerotic paraphilia,  is both wrong and stigmatizing. Instead I use the neutral term "crossdreamers".

Click here for a discussion of the dark side of the autogynephilia theory.

12 comments:

  1. thank you for your words... They made me cry - with sadness, relief, and all sorts of emotions in-between.

    Most everything that I find on the Internet seems to pre-suppose that I was told by my loving spouse who felt that he could trust me with that part of his life. Mine, though, was outed in a most horrific way. He had forgotten to delete the photos off the camera and I found them when taking a picture of my young son. It's difficult to find the words to describe how I felt. It's been 28 hours and I've only slept 5. The rest of the time has been consumed with me trying desperately to understand. We have talked quite a bit - and will talk more, I know, in the days/weeks/months to come. He didn't even know that there was a name for who he is. He says that he loves me and that he wants to make our marriage work. So do I, but at the same time, I feel like I'm in love with a stranger...

    I look forward to checking back for other comments & advice. .

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am hidden in my desires as well. I don't have anyone special in my life like you and your husband. I hope you can make things work. You might find that if he is free to express all of the personality he has that the she part has been with the he part.

    I realize that much of what makes me well me is as much Alexia as anything else. She is the part that my compassion and empathy comes from. I feel better now that I accepted I want to be the female I should have been. I will probably stay a No-Operation Transgender girl because of the love for my Dad. He will never understand. I also would be turning my back on a profession I feel called to do and that is scary.

    I am glad you found help here. Any counselor though should be a person that can handle gender issues. I wish I had the site I found once that listed TG friendly docs across the US and World.

    Good Luck Sweetie!

    ReplyDelete
  3. i apologize for duplicate comments... it seems the submission don't reache the blog.

    Please excuse my english, it's not my native language.

    ***

    while i admit the autogynephiliac is very different to me as i'm a MtoF transexual, i want you to know some things i now know from experience.

    First of all and above all, your love for him, for your Significant Other, is real. Please do not betray this sentiment. The love you feel is formed from all aspect of you and him, and from how well you mix together.
    DO NOT let the prejudices to be involved.

    The very basic FEAR he must feel to keep a such important part of him from you, is the fear of LOSING YOU, it's the fear to break the love you both are feeling for each other.

    For me, it was the FEAR to let my wonderful family to know about me... the possobility for me to lose my mom an dad ... it needed me about ten years of bottled feelings to overcome that fear only to find i have a very supportive mom an dad!.

    Please, please remember that first of all it's him you love and it's you he loves and let that love to be the first motive for your actions.

    Now, more than anything he needs YOU and your unconditional love to overcome all the shame he feels inside himself, to remove all that garbage and to let you see him as the real him, to see all the content of the package.

    Only then, if the overall balance of the sentiments you feel for each other are changed, only then you will both make a decision about your marriage.

    and yes, he is not a stranger; VERY PROBABLY some of his being autogynephiliac (if he is) was inconsciously expressed before and that was part of what you loved about him... These feelings are never totally suppressed... they are part of one's life... and as such you must have at least seen them, and loved them, even if you or him hadn't a name for it at the time.

    Don't let a name to change the love you have; accept that, yes, learn from that, yes, grow from that, yes, but in any case do not destroy anything only for having learnt a name!

    and thank you god, for the existence of the internet, for this blog, for the simple possibility to discuss these matters in an unobstructed way... i can tell you that if i hadn't an opportunity like this at the right time i might have taken my own life...

    so please, think a lot, talk, cry, learn but don't ruin the love you feel only for that, let him know that you know, let him know that you've put another brick to the walls of your house and ask him to add other as he explores himself for him but also for you and WITH you.

    it's another step in the road. where the road go i don't know, but the essence is the voyage and the voyage is better if it's done with a soulmate :)

    and yes, i am crying as i write this. it touches my soul. i hope these few words can be useful to you too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The hardest part of being an autogynephiliac, is being accepted. The problem is that, unlike homosexuality or "normal" transexual/transgenderism there isn't much social awareness/acceptance of it. Not that acceptance of either of those is very high at the moment, but my point is that there is awareness about those, and people are significantly less ignorant now than in the past about those. And people acceptance is on the rise.

    However, for autogynephilia, its not even really out there that much. I have already resigned myself to society never accepting the conflicting instincts that I have. So when it comes to ones significant other, you want to tell them. You want them to accept you, but the thought of losing someone over whats basically a set of instincts that are impossible to satisfy, there just seems no point. "what if they don't accept me". I really don't know if my SO could accept it, so why take that chance? Why chance giving up someone you are incredibly lucky to be with over a problem that can never be solved?

    Susanne seems to have a very good mindset for this challenge and I think that it can be overcome. "coming out" as an autogynephilliac (can we make a shorter term?) is different than "coming out" as gay or transgendered because of the less social acceptance which means that society says its not OK to be who we are (yet).

    A lot of talking with him is all I could suggest really.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you all for your comments! I have checked back several times to read and re-read them. I find them very encouraging. My husband and I have talked and talked and are still talking - more honestly in the last 2 days than in the previous 7 years. It's amazing how far one can come in such a short time. I see him so differently now, not in a bad way, but completely - when I wasn't even aware that my picture of him was missing a piece at all. I admit that I still have struggles (I had never even heard of autogynaphalia before), but truthfully, the biggest one is HOW I found out rather than what his secret is. I love him for all that he is and we have committed to each other that we want to work through this. We are trying to take it slow and not rush anything. We realize that this is going to be a long road through uncharted territory for both of us. We know that there will be road bumps, but I feel certain that if we can continue to communicate as we have done the past 2 days, we will make it. I have decided to start my own blog about our journey of discovery in the hopes that other significant others can find hope and peace. I will post the link to it here after I've composed my first posting.

    Thank you so much for your encouragement - it really has helped for me to focus on what you have shared.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is good to hear. I wish you both good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am glad!!! And I am looking forward to reading your blog. I'll put up a link to it.

    And to the rest of you: Thank you for responding to my ask for help. And if anyone else has experience is this area, please do not hesitate to add your comment!

    ReplyDelete
  8. It has been 6 days since my discovery. My husband and I are doing as well as can possibly be expected, I think. We are both scared about what this means for us, but we are also both excited. I am blogging about my own experiences here - http://susannejourney.blogspot.com/

    I do not wish to offend anyone, so you should know that the first posting is not pretty to read. It was written as a catharsis to get out all the anger, rage, fear, and betrayal that I felt at the first moment of discovery. Writing it down seems to have mostly stopped it swirling through my body, so it was beneficial for me to write. It was also the beginning of our journey that I felt it important to share...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm reading this blob more than a year after the last comment was posted, but I still feel compelled to share my thoughts.

    Just based on Susanne's letter and not having read her blog, it doesn't sound to me as if her husband is autogynephilic.

    Most of the people in the trans community, both the transgenders and their partners, are well familiar with the reasons behind non-disclosure. I won't go into them here since you addressed them so well in your response to Susanne.

    But, non-disclosure is not autogynephilia. The disputed "paraphilic" modifier aside (I also do not agree with this analysis), an autogyne/androphilic is one whose preferred form of sexual gratification is as his or herself's own image of the opposite birth gender, to the exclusion of a life partner, whether they are out to them or not. In other words, a sexual relationship with a partner does not satisfy as intensely as auto eroticism.

    This can make for a dissatisfying sexual experience for the partner, and it is problematic.

    I have yet to read about solutions for couples who face this dilemma.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm reading this blog more than a year after the last comment was posted, but I still feel compelled to share my thoughts.

    Just based on Susanne's letter and not having read her blog, it doesn't sound to me as if her husband is autogynephilic.

    Most of the people in the trans community, both the transgenders and their partners, are well familiar with the reasons behind non-disclosure. I won't go into them here since you addressed them so well in your response to Susanne.

    But, non-disclosure is not autogynephilia. The disputed "paraphilic" modifier aside (I also do not agree with this analysis), an autogyne/androphilic is one whose preferred form of sexual gratification is as his or herself's own image of the opposite birth gender, to the exclusion of a life partner, whether they are out to them or not. In other words, a sexual relationship with a partner does not satisfy as intensely as auto eroticism.

    This can make for a dissatisfying sexual experience for the partner, and it is problematic.

    I have yet to read about solutions for couples who face this dilemma.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Anonymous...

    You are partially right - non-disclosure does NOT mean autogynephilia. But my spouse's actions over his lifetime - and his desires - do. BTW, it's been over a year and we are still together - and still dealing with AGP. I-we- have found an incredible amount of support here in the blogosphere. I hope you do as well.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi! I just want to help ease your mind a bit about feeling betrayed...

    I am definitely a crossdreamer (someone who experiences autogynephilia) and I can say that without a doubt, acting on these feelings is NOT the same as having a relationship. Instead, it feels like fulfilling a fantasy... alone. So it's definitely not the same as cheating and does NOT mean that your partner is any less emotionally attached to you.

    In fact, should you and your partner ever learn a way to share these crossdreaming fantasies together, OR should you be accepting and loving of your partner, I believe that it will bring you and your partner even closer together. Crossdreaming is more about how a person perceives themself, and NOT about finding love somewhere else. It's about identity, not fidelity. So no worries!!! I hope that helps.

    ReplyDelete

Click here for this blog's Code of Conduct!

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!

Our Flipboard Trans News Curation