Gender transition and divorce

See also my section on Family Resources.

Michelle* sent me the note below in June 2003. I have included this letter on a very sensitive topic for two reasons:

1. To urge young people to avoid getting married in order to try to “cure” themselves or avoid dealing with their feelings.

2. To urge those struggling with gender issues to be honest with their partners as soon as possible.

Michelle’s situation is almost a worst-case scenario, with a pattern of deception that would still be a problem if gender issues were not involved. Working through these issues is going to involve a lot of guilt and pain, but continued lying will only make it worse, and avoiding talking about it only prolongs the problems and may make them worse in the long run.

If you are in a committed relationship and are struggling with gender issues, you should find a gender-friendly therapist who can help you sort out your feelings, and then consider couples therapy if you hope to remain in that relationship. A relationship has to be based on trust, and if you hold back feelings that affect someone you love, you are not just hurting yourself, you are hurting them. None of us asked to feel this way, but avoiding the truth you owe your partner is not going to help.

Don’t let your fears keep you from taking action to deal with your feelings in an honest and open manner.

* name changed to protect her privacy

How lies affect the spouses of TGs

Dear Andrea,

I came across your site today and felt compelled to add a few of my own thoughts. First you have done a great job in trying to help people who need this type of information. For that I applaud your efforts.

It has been about 4 years since my ex-husband “came out” to me. I have been living on my own since Dec. 1999. I feel that everyone has to be responsible for their own actions in life. I was married to a very domineering and selfish man for 28 years. As his wife I supported the family while he attended 6 years of private college, and then for the next 6 years while he was “finding himself.” During this period we raised 2 children who also went to private schools. I supported the family through being a cashier, picking fruit in the orchards on weekends, and later by cleaning houses for 6 years. Every time I tried to save a little money my husband would spend it to the penny. Looking back I now realize that it was a selfish control issue.

After our children left home, he had an affair. It was bad enough that this happened after we had been married for 21 years, but to add hurt to injury he told me if I was a good wife, I would call up the other woman to find out what she did that made him feel so good. It took at least a year before that ended. I forgave him believing that marriage was a sacred vow to be kept. (One of the many subjects that he took up in college was Theology to be a minister.) We both decided on Jan 1, 1995 to put the past behind us and not keep anything from each other. Again I very foolishly trusted my husband.In Nov. 1998 he informed me that he had prostate cancer and would have to have his testicle removed to keep it from spreading. I wanted him to get other doctor’s opinions but he insisted that he had the best doctor. He had the surgery. We lived in different locations because of a business that he was starting. In later years I would find out that everyone out in CA knew that he was a transsexual and this was part of the sex change procedures. He finally came clean with his sex change March 10, 1999, as we were driving down the freeway 75 mph on our way to meet a group of 16 friends for dinner and drinks. He had also depleted all of our savings by this time and rang $5,000 onto my personal credit cards. AT this time we had been married for 27 years. I was finally getting my chance to attend a local community college and this was the spring break of my freshman year.

Personally I feel very wronged by a gender center, counselors, and doctors who treated a married man without making sure that his wife knew what was happening. I was left in debt, emotionally destroyed, and trying to get an education at 45. He was pulling in a 6 digit income at the time. He humiliated me in public by showing up for our divorce dressed as a woman with frilly clothing, jewelry, and makeup.

Two years after our divorce I finally broke all connections with he/she as I could no longer take the weekly verbal assaults and threats over the phone.

I just wanted you to know that there is a second side to the [trans] situation. I think it is cruel for a father and husband to be so selfish. If they knew something wasn’t right, they should at least give their spouse the decency of a divorce before the “coming out party” begins. My ex did not want to give me a divorce and said that I had made a vow before God and I “had to stay married to him after he became a woman.” My only reply to him was,” And which one of the marriage vows did you not break in the last 28 years. I had been a faithful hardworking wife all those years!

Today I am living a free life. I continued to go to college graduating with 2 majors and honors. It was difficult but by the grace of God, I made it.

You do not need to reply to my email as I know you have a lot of your own kind to answer questions for, but I would appreciate if you added under the coming out to family members, something about responsibility to their spouse. It still makes me cry when I think of the pain that he caused to myself and our two children.

Thank you for reading my thoughts.

Michelle

My response:

Thanks very much for writing!

First, let me say that I’m very sorry for all you have had to deal with. I’d wish that on no one.

My site is designed for younger readers, especially unmarried ones, but much of the advice on physical stuff applies to anyone. That’s why I don’t get into the issues in your letter. Marriage and divorce are not things I’ve experienced, and many of my readers have not, either.

I have actually avoided discussing it for a lot of reasons. First, it’s very complicated. Second, and this may surprise you, I have a big problem with people who commit to marriage and kids, then don’t keep up their end of the deal.

I happen to be in complete agreement with you that once you have committed to marriage and children, the equation changes entirely. My advice on coming out and dealing with this would be very different for someone who has a family.

Those who transition later in life often seem to have very different goals in this. While I sympathize with their plights and I know how difficult all this is no matter how old you are, their deicisions have deeply affected other lives.

From your account, your ex sounds like a real jerk.

I’ll add your letter soon, along with a short commentary. My site is about getting people to start as soon as possible, and perhaps your story can keep young people from committing to marriage as an attempt to avoid their feelings.

Take care,
Andrea

Michelle’s response

Dear Andrea,

Thank you for responding to my letter. I am deeply touched!

If any or all of my letter can help another family you have my full permission to use it on your site. I do try to constantly educate myself on a personal level where TG matters are concerned. Only my immediate family are aware of the circumstances of my divorce.

Please do not put my name or e-mail out for anyone to contact me other than yourself. But if you can stress one thing, it is that if a person has a gender issue, they cannot resolve it by marriage and producing children. It only hurts those closest to them.

Thank you,
Michelle

by Kristina-Maia DeMott

According to numerous self-revelatory accounts by male-to-female TGs and significant others, a high proportion of born males that have reached beyond sporadic “hobby”-level cross-dressing behavior have also soon divorced. In most cases, the gender shifting process is cited or “blamed” (depending on which partner is doing the dishing) as the primary cause of the rift. The situation takes on relationship-threatening dimensions at different points: usually when increased time and resources are spent en femme, or when the TG person begins to talk about transitioning to full-time womanhood.

Whether the person ever goes full-time or not doesn’t appear to be the main issue in most accounts. The fact that they were seriously considering it throws a monkey wrench into domestic bliss. It also isn’t a matter of reaction to dramatic changes; the seeds of most of the splits I have heard of or read about were sown long before the transgender or transsexual person began dressing daily, started hormone therapy, or had surgery of any kind. Some of these folks relate that they have now found relationships with more understanding partners. The matter remains; the process of discovering the inner woman led to separation and irretrievably broke the original marriage.

This brings up philosophical questions and uncovers a puzzling (for the TG at least) self-centeredness on the part of the SO. The most common Genetic Girls’ reactions, a la the archives of S.P.I.C.E., writings by members of online support groups, and as related in venues such as the Tri-Ess Mirror, is to dump the radioactive relationship fallout squarely onto any married male cross-dresser who takes the activity ‘too seriously.’ Recalcitrant trannies are often chastised by henpecking-style rhetoric disguised as counselor-talk. They are stamped with the rubric of ‘selfish’ or ‘insensitive’ “man” (pronouns, pronouns!) who refuses to live up to marital expectations, including regular and conventional sex. Moreover, the assumption is that these are simply understood to be major failings. The critics apparently find reassurance in making continual reference to some phantom Rules of Order, as if there were a common and accepted thread of appropriate behavior running through the crazy-quilt of life in modern society.

We hear, ‘Hey, the poor wife didn’t expect it! She has a right to continue in a relationship with ‘the same person she knew before,’ etc. etc. It is, in fact, a good exercise to try to imagine the shoe being on the other foot. Imagine the husband attempting to adapt while his wife of 12 years has begun to realize her inner man, wears boxer shorts, quits shaving her legs and underarms, and is seriously considering a mustache transplant. This comparison, however, is a bit far-fetched. As a trannie once jokingly quipped, “What? Why would anyone ever want to be a man?” The incidence of female-to-male transgendering within marriage is tiny in comparison with the TG rate among genetic males. Except as a lark or in theatre, few non-lesbian women ever intentionally masculinize their appearance at home – fewer still have a hankering to do so in public. To state the obvious, “cross-dressing” is largely a non-issue for women in any case. Nearly all types of once-male attire are readily available, and completely acceptable as women’s wear. The only exceptions seem to be structured 3-piece suits and jock straps. The new Brooks Brothers ad campaign essentially puts the first item up for grabs as well, and from a previously hard-line “Boys Only” source.

From the other side we hear things such as ‘I had to leave her out of respect for the marriage, I did the right thing for my family.’ Anecdotally, however, the born woman has usually already insisted that behavior change back to the norm “or else.” The TG in such cases may be simply rationalizing the break as a personal decision.

On a scientific level, the cited rationale behind this high level of rejection by SOs is inconsistent with current medical thinking. The newest HBIGDA or “Benjamin” medical treatment standards state clearly that physicians should recognize by now that “gender dysphoria” is a true medical condition, not merely a social choice. This counters one marital objection, since late-onset diabetes, atherosclerosis, prostate infections, and other conditions are a greater threat to health. The disease and necessary medications often affect sexual performance more deeply than the changes that may accompany a TG’s exploration of femininity.

A friend once remarked that there are probably very few “trans” in POW camps or in communities where everyone is scrabbling for the essentials of life. This observation, however, only holds true where the strictest punitive regimentation is imposed. Particularly impressive, to name only one instance, is the almost universal appearance of female-inhabited men in archetypal hunting and gathering societies, for instance those who took the role of Shaman in certain Native American tribes. Several of these Shamans appear in images by the 19th Century western photographer Edward Curtis. Additionally, a facet of current outreach initiatives is targeted on deeply impoverished transgender street youth and other poor transgender people in the inner cities – a population that has been “beneath the radar” for decades and is only now receiving attention from diversity advocates.

Most TGs seem to stick by a blanket assertion that we are claiming a basic human right to express our inner nature. For others, to admit that these qualities are embedded implies helplessness or a lack of choice. They would rather view cross-dressing as a hobby or chosen pastime. The latter certainly comes closer to satisfying the mandates of conventional marriage. No matter, in a setting where born women are present, attempts to defend the married TG on issues of overindulgence usually lead to accusations of selfishness, “gender euphoria,” or at least to raised eyebrows and tut-tut admonitions, even from transgender “men” (!) in the group. I write “men”(!) again here, because it seems strange how often John Wayne-style protectiveness toward GGs asserts itself out of habit in such situations. To paraphrase Walt Kelley—We have met the enemy, and she is us!

Generalizations flourish. The Christian Right is especially fond of pointing the bad finger at all non-standard social behaviors. GLB&T lifestyles in particular are singled out as antithetical to the Judaeo-Christian traditions on which many (erroneously) believe Western civilization was founded.
Yet, despite the squeaky wheels crying out that the country is going to hell in a hand basket, the truth is that society-at-large has moved beyond this kind of dogmatic attitude in most arenas. Apparently, we are looking at special attitudes when it comes to gender shifting, even among liberal thinkers. We found out he’s queer? Fine, elect the person anyway; he’s a good attorney. “He” wears high heels? Uh-oh … get back, dear voters. Exceptional personalities such as Rudolph Giuliani get away with occasional transvestitism, but only in drag-style theatrical guise. 

With this kind of entrenched double standards at work, it’s no wonder so many TGs are in marriages that appear to be loaded down with 19th-century moral baggage. Perhaps we are trapped by genetically wired expectations that rule marriage or long-term relationships; maybe these factors defy all efforts at finding alternatives. Conversely, is it possible that many married women are simply too fixated on continued validation of social position, or so compliant with outside-family expectations that they can’t allow for experimentation within their prime relationship? If the former is true, then so be it – until evolution finally reveals a solution. If it is the latter (and I suspect that in most cases, it plays the major role in the short term), the outlook is so blankly bourgeois, so socially Darwinist, that it doesn’t speak very well for born women in general, or for the deeper understandings that one assumes underlie a good marriage.

For example, in the scenario of gender shifting, where do concepts like “true love” fall? Where are the deep empathy and the other properties so often represented as iconic, almost sacred, to the feminine paradigm within our societal mythology? After all, men are constantly being upbraided for giving mere lip service to matters of compassion that born women, especially those who deem themselves feminists of some flavor, seem to believe they have cornered the market on. Have they forgotten the lessons of their own past? When these same women are faced with TG issues within marriage, suddenly we aren’t encouraged quite so vehemently to look beneath the surface for the “real person”—to value nurturing—to “be there” for someone, no matter what. Substitute your own pop-psychology phrases.

What, then, constitutes the deepest of feminine attitudes toward someone who is truly loved? This matter deserves full consideration between partners facing a breakup situation involving transgender behaviors.

The issue of continued conventional satisfaction by the previously all-male partner gets high billing too. While many GGs occasionally enjoy a little kinky frolic, over the long term they don’t look forward to accepting their partner as a “girlfriend” too. When pressed for explanations, or expressing their mad/sad feelings, many SOs speak directly to the issue that they don’t want to be (or never expected to be) drawn into the role of being a “lesbian” partner. This is obviously a serious problem of role shifting that the current social constructs are not adequate to handle. Given the high incidence of divorce and separation under the circumstances, we must consider that there are hard limits to adaptability, even in a society that has supposedly moved beyond the model of gender roles cast in concrete.

To tentatively characterize it, what appears in even the most accepting GG attitudes is also an attempt to cope with irrational (in the strictest sense of having no specific logical basis) feelings of disenfranchisement and rejection. We may be dealing with a gut reaction, to what the proto-anthropologists labeled “taboo” behavior. TGs are asking for an adaptation that challenges taboo: one that goes beyond the simple grace of allowing someone to wear gender-opposite clothing and adornments in the shared abode.

On the other hand, we have (at least) 4000 years of romantic tradition that rejects the mere externals, enshrines loyalty to the essence of the love-partner’s true being. Why not just become a figurative ‘lesbian,’ if, in fact, one truly loved the other person’s essential qualities in the first place? Such adaptations should present no problem, given the expectation of unshaken loyalty implicit in even in the most mundane of civil marriage vows. “In sickness and in health”—well, isn’t gender dysphoria a medically describable condition? Many physicians say so, and enlightened psychiatric professionals are increasingly prone to move transgendering out of the “abnormal psychology” realm. Moreover, the transgender individual really is, after all, “the same person” at base. If we take the opinions of post-operation transsexuals at face value, they have simply become the person they always knew they were, or have come to understand they always were.

Are there easy solutions? No, since two powerful trends arise here. One of them is not so exotic in its implications. The other, however, is unthinkable—if you are one of those who accepts the current trend in psychology that offers trivial, sexually based explanations of what the rapid increase in transgender yearnings represents.
There is a much larger picture. The shifting process that began with the growth in feminist perceptions two centuries ago has since widened to include marginal societal acceptance of diverse sexual orientations. If we attempt as social creatures to incorporate this ever-broadening behavioral continuum, while at the same time attempting to restrict our definition of the urge for gender shifting to mere sociological terms, then we must at the very least reach toward a durable societal redefinition of core gender roles.

But that’s not all. We aren’t dreaming. Perceptions of a broadening in the spectrum of human gender differentiation on a worldwide scale are also very real. Humanity is changing through interaction with advanced technology, population pressures, and other grand-scale factors. Obviously, we already require a third gender definition, probably even a fourth. The concept is not a new one; researchers turn up handfuls of examples by merely scratching the surface of anthropological studies. More importantly, in order to survive we must develop effective mechanisms to quell the deep and inchoate fear in the minds of those who would attempt to hold back this essentially unstoppable tide—those who feel it carries a challenge to species preservation, which it does not. On the contrary: we must either evolve to embrace such change or face the very extinction they fear.

by Anon

[This was written in response to How lies affect the spouses of TGs]

I was reading your response to a letter from a woman who had been used and abused by her “[trans]” ex-spouse. [trans] is in inverted commas because you can’t help doubting that a feminine soul could exist in anyone so prepared to dump on their spouse in that way. 

Anyway, you spoke of the problems you have with [trans people] who have married and had kids, and how they have made their bed and should lie in it. In theory, I agree. In practice, it’s not so simple.

I have always felt guilty about what I did. Not that I left my former marriage to change over – I was given my marching orders because I was falling apart. By then my ex knew about my issues, but I’d only told her some years after we had been married, mostly because I couldn’t admit it to myself, let alone verbalise all those weird, confusing thoughts and feelings to anyone else. It’s not easy to admit that you have lived your life as a sham held up behind layers of masks.

After 7 years of marriage (and much embarrassment about my poor sexual performance) I simply hit the wall. I was finding it harder and harder to keep the masks in place so I stopped pretending to be masculine and let myself be as feminine as came naturally. But it wasn’t enough. No matter how feminine I was, I was always still seen by others through a male lens and as a result constantly felt misunderstood and misinterpreted in everything I said and did.

I became deeply depressed and was having regular anxiety attacks because I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I was married, with a very young son, with the growing realisation that I was trans by nature (after much denial). I felt I’d burnt my bridges.

Even though my ex kept asking for a split I kept refusing, asking her to give me more time to sort myself out. But I was in no fit state to make any decision and in the end my ex insisted on a split, which I had to accept. I had booked in to see a psychiatrist with an appointment due in a couple of weeks, but we both knew it wasn’t going to change anything long term. She knew I was a lost cause and basically told me to go to save me from myself (and her from my craziness), and for that I’ll always be grateful to her.

Now, 10 years on, we are still good friends. I visit and stay over (on a fold up bed in the lounge room) with her and our son (who’s now 13) every second weekend. Since I owe her for all the inconvenience I put her through I pay extra maintenance, buy / cook meals while I’m there, mind the boy so she can have a break, help out with chores and homework, pay for outings, and so on.

I know I was in the wrong for saying “I do” instead of facing up to myself and, while I can never fully make it up to them, I do what I can and my family are forgiving enough to accept that. I know of others who have been barred from even seeing their children.

As for the rest of my life, finally being myself has made a huge difference. My career has taken off, I no longer get depressed, I’ve had some lovely relationships and have a steady boyfriend as I write. I am accepted in the wider world and lead what we like to call a “normal life”.

Actually, I sometimes feel guilty about taking a stealth approach (yes, all this guilt is very Catholic and Jewish!) because in an ideal world I would be doing something about the stigma of transsexualism instead of hiding from it. Perhaps, by sharing some of my observations about a stealthy transsexual life, I can at least offer a little back to others who may be just starting out.

Being “undercover” means I don’t embarrass my former spouse, my son, my father or boyfriend. After all, while transsexualism is usually seen as a solitary road, it isn’t. I also feel that stealth takes the focus away from you, so you don’t have to put up with that weird celebrity status I had during transition. Importantly, it also means that when spoken about I am referred to in regard to my personality and skills rather than just as “a transsexual”.

Still, stealth does have its down sides. Anyone who waits until their mid 30s or later to change over has lived a lot of life in the male world, meaning you are necessarily different to other women, with a really unusual mix of yin and yang, and some people (especially some women) can find this offputting. And when you hide your background it can be difficult to make new friendships of any real depth (which is never easy for singles in middle age anyway) because being evasive about your past interferes with (platonic) intimacy with others. I don’t know why these issues seem to never be raised in trans-related discussions because they are genuine isues and people should be aware of them when changing over so they don’t get upset when they happen.

On another level, had I not transitioned my son would have inevitably been subjected to a lot of difficult, complex underlying stuff which he would never have been able to understand – both with my own messiness and marital tension. That deep, dark unspoken stuff – ie. shameful family secrets – can cause all sorts of problems in kids, and since I would have been my boy’s father I would have been his role model, and this may have created distortions in his personality.

Even if nothing was said, children are intuitive and he would have sensed the vibes. By changing over, with everyone being completely upfront and honest about the issues, there was no confusion. Daddy was turning into a girl. “Will I turn into a girl too?”. “No, you are different to me, you’re a proper boy”. “Good!” says he. 

Early on I expressed my worries to my assessing psychiatrist about how to explain things to my son. He said: “If he asks you something, answer his simply and honestly but son’t go on too much about it”. So he fully understands the situation; he has a mum and an erstwhile “auntie” who both love him to bits and he’s totally relaxed about it (and for the naysayers, he’s thoroughly heterosexual and does brilliantly with the girls – although if he was gay, that would be fine too – God forbid that he, or anyone, be forced into a life that’s not right for them!).

Whatever, while my life isn’t a bed of roses, no-one I know has a perfect life either. I don’t expect perfection and I know that The Change was the right thing for me. Each year I become happier and find a little more success both professionally and socially – nothing grand, but I’m happy enough with things (although having a decent surgeon would have helped).

So why did I get married and put my poor ex (and son) through all that upheaval before sorting myself out? 

Two things – stigma and ignorance.

I was bullied badly in high school. You know how in every school there is one kid who is “it”? That was my role. My name was “fairy”. Every day the bullies would follow me around, throwing things at me, punching me, spitting on me, insulting and threatening me. Had our school not been so strict, I expect I would have been beaten up too. In my first year I would often get home, throw myself on my bed, cry my eyes out, say “Everybody hates me, I wish I was dead”, over and over. When my mother complained to the school she was told “it will make a man of him” … obviously they were wrong – lol. I was too humiliated to tell Dad about it until I was in transition.

During the Christmas holidays, just before facing up to year 8, I made a decision – I was going to toughen up. I started smoking, being rebellious, and basically trying to be as tough as possible. Of course, everyone thought I was a joke and the bullying got worse year by year no matter how “normal” I tried to act. Behind the scenes I was crossdressing and feeling totally confused and messed up and thinking that if my whole personality package was put into a female body then I would fir in ok. In the end I was driven out of school by the bullies without doing my leaving certificate, after failing almost everything despite being measured with an IQ of “well within the top 10% as compared with university graduates in the state”.

By then I’d resolved to be *really* masculine and worked hard on cultivating a masculine image so I could attract girls and gain some sort of male credibility. I had a few local friends and my role with them was that of “the clown” – they laughed at me and I laughed with them. So I learnt the drums and played in bands, drank and smoked pot constantly, took any other drug that crossed my path, swore often and loudly, and dressed almost exclusively in torn and tattered t-shirts and jeans, and performed dirty work in factories to pay the rent. It worked, too – in time almost everyone thought I was a normal (if slightly mad) guy, although only men ever seemed to be interested in me.

At age 25 I had resolved to clean up and soon afterwards I met the women I married. In hindsight I can see that it was ridiculous, but I couldn’t bear to admit what I was; I couldn’t stand the idea of the bullies at school being right about me. I was even too chicken to be gay – knowing that I would still be seen as a second-class male – and instead formed these weird one-on-one close, but platonic, friendships with men, which often raised eyebrows in my group of friends.

I really knew nothing about trans issues, and this didn’t help. As I neared puberty my parents started giving me facts-of-life books. One of them was “Everything you wanted to know about sex but was afraid to ask”. I still remember what I felt as I read the bit about transsexuals: “So-called transsexuals are nothing more than castrated and mutilated female impersonators”. Well! At that time I was still a bit of a goody two shoes (think Hermione in Harry Potter) and of course female impersonators were those terrible underworld prostitute / stripper types, weren’t they? And I certainly wasn’t one of them!

Sorry for being so in-depth about my background but I’m hoping it may help you see how fear of stigma can lead a transperson to seek heterosexual married life. 

Even today there is strong resistance against teaching children about human diversity when it comes to sex and gender. And given that we are still shackled by the remnants of patriarchy, more confused kids will continue to marry, thinking that it will somehow “make them normal”. Michelle, put it perfectly in her letter to you: “if a person has a gender issue, they cannot resolve it by marriage and producing children. It only hurts those closes to them”. 

Thank God for the Internet, which is our best hope of preventing such hurts from happening again … as long as fundamentalist Christian types who blithely ignore 50+ years of psychiatric research and think that transsexualism is “curable” don’t undo too much of the good work.

While I could never say that the birth of my son was a bad thing, what I did was still not right because it inconvenienced my favourite people. I guess the ideal moral of this story is an adaptation of Yul Brynner’s famous line, “Whatever you do, don’t marry!” (if you have gender issues).

I’m sorry this is so long but I hope you found it enlightening, or at least interesting.

All the best

Anon

Honesty

by S

[This was written in response to How lies affect the spouses of TGs]

I read with utter horror the letter from Michelle whereby her husband went through years of egotistical behavior before being open about his/her gender dysphoria to his/her spouse leaving her in debt and emotional pain from a 27 year marriage with children.

I would like to mention about my experiences of a failed marriage which I have many regrets about and pain but understand totally how my spouse must have felt and that pain for me has been the worst.

I was very in love with S__, and during our dating we were very much happy and in love. The problem for me was that I was in total denial of my gender dysphoria, I remember now as I look back that I knew the deep pain inside me with my incongruity but I also knew how much I loved this woman. I very stupidly believed I could hide even overcome these feelings. And so I wasn’t honest to her we were married and for 2 years we were happy, then life just seemed to be plodding along for us and I could feel a deep depression resulting from my desires to be my female identity.

After several months I became agitated and annoyed at little irrelevant things and found myself more and more needing to feel feminine. I began hating the way I looked and how much my wife wanted me to be more masculine expecting me to be ‘Bob the Builder’. Eventually like a volcano I erupted and we started a pattern of arguing, I would just fly off the handle and each time I could feel the resentment in her from this behavior that lasted for several days, often not resolving before another argument.

We sought counseling, but it was a young male counselor that I couldn’t open up to, so I still kept silent about being TG. What made matters worse was that my wife was a nurse manager of a behavioral health unit (mainly elderly patients with dementia) but I’d heard the psychiatrist there mention about a visit to San Francisco where he’d seen a [trans person] there and then went on to make it clear he felt those sort of people were perverts. I was shocked after all this coming from a Dr in the medical profession and specializing in behavioral health. I felt there was no one I could turn to, all this was in the rural Midwest.

Time went by and I made another stupid mistake of buying a few items of female clothes and hiding them which inevitably S__ found, following this I tried to explain but by then S__ decided the marriage was over. It came to a head in May that year when we had a very severe argument and I moved out the following week to an apartment. At first there was a little respite and relief from all the stress but after just a short time I started to miss her terribly. S__ made it clear that the marriage was over, and that I’d lied and deceived her and hurt ner deeply and that was unforgivable, I hated myself I’d lost the one person I loved with all my heart and soul. After 3 years of marriage in August 03 I received the divorce papers, I collected the last of my stuff from her and tried a desperate attempt to repair things and for us to try therapy with a gender specialist in the nearest large city, but I was too late– she’d found someone else online, it was over and she said she had moved on.

I was devastated and so I decided to move to the nearest large city for support and made regular appts with the gender therapist and was diagnosed that Sept ’03 at the age of 36 with gender dysphoria, I was deeply unhappy and felt suicidal. I couldn’t stand that my marriage had fallen apart and it was my fault, my life felt totally empty, I kept thinking about how so unlike my normal placid loving personality I had been when with S__. All I can put it down to was I think my denial and self loathing, my self esteem was very battered as I’m sure hers was too.

We divorced in Aug 04 and S__ made a new life for herself with her new partner in another state. It has taken me since then to finally find my self acceptance of this cruel condition but there’s few days I don’t think about her and what a terrible terrible mistake I made by not being honest from the start. One saving grace if you can call it that we didn’t have children, but my love for her remains and I don’t date, I am lucky I have lots of friends now all aware of my TG situation.

The last 2 years have been a journey of discovery and with many therapy sessions to work through my emotions to where I am now. I am now full time 24/7 and hope to have surgery soon. After this maybe I can find love again, I hope maybe S__ will read this who knows and maybe find some forgiveness for my terrible actions. I hope she is well and happy in her new life.

I also hope that maybe if its posted it will help others to avoid the terrible mistake I made and just be open and honest with any future spouse/partner. One big lesson I have learned is that it is so important to be true to yourself and honest then most people will see this and admire you for it.