Editors’ Note: The following piece was submitted to us by a friend of Truth Wins Out who wishes to remain anonymous due to the personal nature of the column. As a transgender woman, she describes her experiences in trying to hold together a marriage with her wife, exposing the fact that, just like people can’t change from gay to straight, people also can’t change from straight to gay, even for the ones they love the most. — Evan
When I began emotionally dealing with being MTF transgender, I was married with several small children. Coming out to my spouse was absolutely devastating to both of us. I felt ready to crawl into a hole and die, and she was angry, scared, depressed, and worried for our children. It took us a long time to both accept that neither of us wanted to leave the other, but when we both did it made life a lot better for both of us than it had been in a long time. It also was the starting point for my transition.
I held off transitioning fully until after Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). Sitting in the doctor’s examining room prior to surgery, we heard from the nurse that she’d seen a lot of couples come in, but very few of them made it to the end of the year after FFS. It sent chills down my spine, and my spouse swore that as long as I stayed the good person I was, nothing would change. I believed her. She had never lied to me in over a decade of marriage.
We were both so wrong.
In the months following surgery, I found that blending in with my target gender turned out to be nearly seamless. I looked and sounded how I identified internally when I turned off the filter that had been “guy mode”. No one guessed my past at my new job, and it didn’t take long before I finally had confidence in public that people saw me as I saw myself. It was wonderful.
It was also the end of our marriage.
Strangers weren’t the only ones who saw me as female: my spouse did too. Over time, she became angrier, more depressed, and the distance between us was palpable in every way. Finally, ten months after I had transitioned, she told me she needed to talk to me. The conversation that followed will always haunt me, and hurts months and years later.
“I tried. I can’t do this. I’m just not a lesbian. I’m sorry, but this isn’t a marriage.” She moved downstairs, the ring came off, and the new normal was put in place. Co-parenting, co-habititating for the sake of the kids. They needed the arrangement for financial security, and for the benefits of living in a two parent household.
While we could amicably live in the same spaces, emotionally it continued to be difficult for us. Because of the needs of the kids, neither of us could move on. But, every day together she was reminded of what she lost, and the bargain she never signed up for. Every day, I lived with being close yet far away from someone I still loved in every way. We were still family, but not romantic partners. There was no escape from the situation for either of us. As she aptly put it, “Welcome to being a couple of spinsters, whether we want to or not.”
The only good that comes from this spiritual suicide pact is that the kids are taken care of, and that maybe other people can learn some things from this.
First and foremost, you cannot change your orientation from gay to straight. The converse is also true; you cannot change from straight to gay. No matter how much you want to. No matter how badly you want to. No matter what the stakes are. Whether it is your marriage, or the prospect spending the rest of your natural life in physical isolation if you fail to change, it is never enough to make it happen.
It also highlights the fact that if a person cannot willingly be gay for someone they love desperately, it’s ridiculous to think others can be “turned gay” by anything unwillingly. Yes, even that (I know what you’re thinking).
Lastly, the transgender hate has to stop. It is pernicious, and brutalizes everyone it touches. Kids are given the message that being transgender is sick, wrong, freakish, and inevitably results in poverty and isolation. They try to hide their horrible secret. People will do anything to avoid facing up to a truth that everyone tells them makes them sub-human. Anything, including getting married and having kids to try and fix it with seeming normalcy. At some point, transgender people can’t be someone they aren’t any longer. Their families disintegrate. Their lives implode. The next generation of transgender kids learns that being transgender will destroy you, and should be hidden at all costs. And the cycle continues.
When members of the LGB community treat us as pariahs, it tightens the cycle, and makes it even harder to escape. I can’t change my gender identity any more than my spouse could change her sexual orientation. God knows we both tried as if our lives, and our children’s, depended on it.
It’s too late for us to change anything though. There’s no escape from this emotional purgatory I constructed for us. I just wish someone would learn from it, and actually do something to break the circle.