By Lisa P.
Some of you may remember my attempt to address the difficult state of affairs between Crossdressers/TG persons and their spouses in my Kandi’s Land essay, “Spousal Relations,” available here:
That attempt was only the First Act, because when you have a spouse who you cherish above all else (as I do), it is vitally important to look at things from her perspective frequently. This essay, therefore, is an attempt to communicate that I have heard her, I hear her now and I plan to continue to listen to her. There is no other way. I cannot live with only my own voice in my ear.
Please bear with me, therefore, as I say to her through this medium the things she deserves to hear from me (as an aside, you may wish to know that I shared with her these thoughts before sharing them with you). If they apply to your situation, please feel free to share them with your spouse….
My love, I know you are a heterosexual woman and that you have never been attracted sexually to females. To put it simply, you have no interest in a physical relationship with a woman. Moreover, you fear that if you see me as a woman (that is dressed as a woman, acting in a manner associated with females, or having a body that looks too feminine), you will never get that image out of your mind, and you will stop feeling physically attracted to me. That is one reason you can’t see my female side, and you don’t particularly want to see her as a separate being either (even when she seems a bit like that).
I know you notice even the smallest changes I have made to adddress my dysphoria, and they are disquieting to you. You haven’t actually said it to me, but I am guessing you wondered at first if I might be gay and trying to attract males by making those changes. I must admit that my being transgender feels like a challenge to the very essence of our relationship. Accepting my gender variance as a separate variable in our lives is very difficult to understand and is something you would rather not have to do. On most occasions, you just wish my gender dysphoria would go away and you could have your husband back the way you remember him.
I also realize how difficult it has been for you to understand how something so basic as gender identity could manifest itself later in life. You have tried to understand as best you can, but it doesn’t make sense that my needs four decades after our marriage are so different from the needs I expressed to you before we commited our lives to each other. Why now? That is a constant refrain that haunts you, especially as you look forward to our senior years, when a lifetime of living should be paying some dividends for you and the family. You sincerely wish that you weren’t being forced to consider someone new in your life – a guest you never invited to stay around for ever, no matter how nice (and reasonbly attractive) she might be!
I also have heard you when you have expressed concern about my physical safety. You know that the world is dangerous for females and even more dangerous for transgendered females. You also know that other men might feel threatened by a transgender woman entering female spaces (bathrooms, changing rooms, etc.) and attack me physically. You certainly are aware of the many politicians in our state who use anti-transgender issues as a rallying cry for their political base. You worry that the hysteria they create could lead to more violence against transgender children and adults.
I know that you are also worried about our future. Seeing that my gender identity will never go away has been scary for you. Hearing me describe myself as a transgender female has led you to question what I am doing when you are not looking. You have heard me ask for space to express myself, and I seem to keep asking for more space all the time. First, there was a closet for my female clothes. Then, there was a request for gifts of jewelry, followed by changing what I wanted as presents for Christmas and my birthday. Of course, it hasn’t ended there, either. I have asked for you to accept me shaving my body hair, you have had to watch me engage in the similar nighttime skin routines that you use, and you have seen me focus a lot on my weight and figure. And, of course, I have asked you if I could come out to certain people in our lives (friends and family) who would be potential allies, and if I could start microdosing estrogen. At any particular moment, you don’t know how many more requests you can stand.
You probably ask yourself, “what more will (s)he ask — will the requests keep coming until I find myself in the place I never wanted to be in the first place — how can I know that when I grant permission it won’t simply result in more and more requests, ad infinitum…will I end up like the proverbial frog who is gradually boiled alive?” You deserve to have and need constant reassurance that there are limits to where this is going for me, and that your needs ultimately will come before my needs, if it comes to that and if there is any way for me to live that way.
Lest I think that you are being selfish, I have to remember that our marriage didn’t start with three people in it. Lest I think you are closed-minded, you have constantly reminded me that you are committed to this marriage and you want to make it work, no matter what.
Yet, because I am still trying to figure out what all this means for me, above all else you need me to be honest with you. Right now, you need your husband to be around more than the “other woman” and if my life becomes unsustainable on that basis, you need to know that too. In the meantime, you don’t want to be reminded about this part of our lives every day. You need and expect me to stay silent more often than not about it, even when the silence causes me pain, because otherwise you are forced to confront a reality that is not what you bargained for when we got married.
I know there are good days and bad days. On good days, you can appreciate the ways in which I am the person I am because I am transgender, and you think that “the clothes don’t make the man (or woman)!” On bad days, your fears overwhelm you. You need me to honor your feelings, on good days, on bad days, and on days in between when being trans is simply the proverbial elephant in our living room, pleasantly munching on the drapes while we carry on with our lives!
You have my commitment to continue to listen to you and to respond positively to your request for limits and boundaries. I need to be OK if all you can do right now is accept and love me, for there is no one in my life I need to love me more than you. The elephant be damned! It’s only some drapes, after all!