How lies affect the spouses of TGs

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

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 TS 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.


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,

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,

See also the 2005 response from a reader.

See also the 2006 response from another reader.

See also my section on Family Resources.

Would you like to make an anonymous contribution?

If you have any advice you'd like to share, please contact me , and I'll give it a permanent (and anonymous) home.