By Lisa P.
Why? Why do I feel like I am a girl? From where within my psyche does that feeling come, and why have I had that sense about myself from about the time I noticed that there was more than one gender? Why can’t I play the game the way it was designed to be played, instead of continuously wanting to simultaneously play on both sides of the net?
Since I have no answers to those questions, I find it difficult (if not impossible) to explain it to my lovely wife, or to anyone else I have come out to for that matter….
One of the big hurdles for CD/TG persons, especially living in the anti-trans environment many of us find ourselves living in, is that other people cannot appreciate the internal turmoil that precedes, accompanies and continues after we realize that we are transgender. If we decide to transition, it is viewed by society generally as a choice, and a bad choice at that, because we are making them (the other person or persons in the conversation) uncomfortable. If we decide not to transition, we often must do it not out of acceptance that we are not trans but rather out of submission to the external realities. Further, regardless of the choice, our suffering likely will continue, because there is always someone ready to punish us for being who we are. (Don’t worry Webmistress Kandi, I am still smiling my way through life. I say these things not to be negative, but to be realistic about my need to constantly remind myself to smile.)
Here’s our simple truth. We never chose to feel the way we do. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “gee, wouldn’t it be nice to see what it would feel like to be a girl!” In fact, because of societal strictures, I have internalized transphobia and have pushed my personal identity and my feelings about who I am deep down. I am left feeling like a fraud much of the time (except, that is, when I am Lisa). As Lisa, I worry about being accepted by others, but I don’t worry about being accepted by myself – I am me being me, and that is good enough for me! (See Kandi — I am still smiling!)
Another truth about the “choice” lie is that no one has a choice when something is being forced on them. Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war aren’t “choosing” to become refugees. Sure, they could stay and face death for themselves or their children, but who really thinks that is a realistic choice?. Any trans person who desperately needs to transition follows through with transition only because the only other possibility is death (physical or mental). To me, that is not choice.
I have repeatedly said to myself and my wife that I don’t intend to transition, but I honestly must admit that it is my truth today. I don’t know what my truth will be tomorrow. I keep finding novel ways to address my feelings of being a fish out of water, and so far those accommodations have kept me emotionally whole and on dry land. But, will that always be the case? I cannot say, because I enjoy swimming so much! I do know that if I were to change my intent and to begin a complete medical and social transition I would risk losing the most precious thing in my life – my wife. She has been very clear that she cannot accept me as a woman. She hasn’t said the words, “I will leave you,” but she has said, “I love you, but I can’t be married to a woman. The rest is up to you.”
I have heard enough from others in this community to know that I am not alone in hearing similar words spoken. I realize, however, that my wife is speaking a truth about her own sense of self. The potential conflict between my sense of self and her sense of self means that for the time being, the only “choice” for me is to be Lisa solely within strictly defined limits that don’t steal from my wife her sense of self and thereby risk our marriage. Moreover, a big part of myself (in addition to Lisa) is my sense of loyalty and duty to her. So, truthfully, I would also need to ignore that part of myself if I were to transition. Sadly, I have read about far too many transwomen who have lost the love of their lives because they could not continue to live without transitioning.
I am rooting for us and for everyone else like us, and I hope you are too! Because, we have no choice!
I hope you have noticed, you haven’t had to listen to my blathering much the past week or so because we have so many wonderful ladies contributing and sharing. And that is so great!! This is a community. We do go out and we are ourselves and we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk in our beautiful heels!!
Lisa, that’s a word that always springs to mind when I read your writings because they get to the very core of my own struggles.
I don’t want to trivialise transition or make out that it’s a walk in the park but I do sense that, from an outsider’s point of view, it’s reasonably straightforward. It’s a journey with a beginning and an end – wives often see it as a dealbreaker which gives a simple choice – transition v the marriage. It’s a heartbreaking decision to have to make but thanks to a few high profile transitioners on both sides of the Atlantic in recent times, it’s a concept that is not unfamiliar to most.
But what about those of us who, for whatever reason, don’t want to transition? Your today v tomorrow point is a good one and I think wives understand that particular issue far better than we do. They go along with a bit of recreational CDing today and tomorrow they see their world being blown apart when that recreational CDing is no longer enough. And your comment that ‘other people cannot appreciate the internal turmoil that precedes, accompanies and continues after we realize that we are transgender’ is bang on the money. It’s hard for us to talk about and, I sense, even harder to seek help and support for. ‘Live an authentic life’ may be the stock answer but seeking other strategies to deal with it feels like it’s becoming increasingly difficult as transgender care becomes increasingly ‘mainstream’.
What I came to realise as I read your piece is where the divide between my wife’s views and mine actually lay when this was a live issue for us in the mid 2010s. It was not just a simple case of me wanting to CD and her finding it abhorrent. It’s that she could only see it as CDing for CDing’s sake. To me, it was (and is) a way of dealing with the battle raging inside me. Stopping CDing is easy – just purge everything – but that only intensifies the inner turmoil and we often have no option other than to suffer in silence as we try in vain to keep all the balls we’re juggling in the air.
Thank you for articulating this whole issue so well.
Community is power for Meza. Knowing I do not walk alone makes all the difference in the world to me. So, thank you from me for not only sharing a “yes” but also for adding the phrase “suffering in silence.” Those are 3 powerful words of sisterhood.
Weird typo in my reply. It should have read “community is power for us!” It is the same sentiment as in Jocelyn’s comment below.
“Meza” just means my fingers are too fat!
I am in the EXACT same situation. Thanks for sharing. I trust that you will make the best decision for you ❤️.
Same here. I know we all learn for each other. But, what we decide along the way are only our own decisions, which we own. Some are good or bad for us; some are good or bad for the person(s) we live the most.
Thank you for the words of commiseration and encouragement.
I think all we can do is lean on each other, and to know we are not alone.
We are all beautiful people on the inside (and most beautiful on the outside). Let us stay strong together.
You are so right! We are not alone, even as we walk our own unique path.
I come from a totally different perspective
While I was not going to transition while married and it never really crossed my mind I could not keep Rachael in a bottle as much as my wife wanted
So she decided she could not live with my two genders
I still feel she made a mistake but I do try and understand her point of view but mostly don’t agree with it
Now alone and free to be me I never did transition and never will but I’m alone and that part isn’t great
Rachael is pretty much who I am even if I don’t go by her publicly.
I know I am who I am and have learned to accept that
Thanks for your perspectives Lisa
Count me as one that sees myself as trans with a wife but will not be transitioning due to it not being practical. I find myself kind of living 2 lives but at the moment I am ok with that. It is not always easy but I mange. It helps that my wife loves me unconditionally and fully accepts my feminine side. Not everyone that is trans is in a position to transition.
I am so thankful to know other TG women with a similar view. Looking from the outside it is so easy to trivialize our experiences, but they are not only complex, but also dynamic. Sometimes we just have to hang on for our lives, because the roller coaster ride is underway!
I am so happy to see you refer to your wife’s unconditional love, as that is a beautiful thing indeed and definitely should be both celebrated and honoured.
In the process of trying to be true and honest to our wives and family we’re not being true and honest to oursleves , I know how much that tears us apart inside . Transition often appears the holy grail because it is being denied us , it’s the forbidden fruit . The problem I found was I needed to answer that question but in doing so you have to accept the satus quo can’t remain the same something may have to be sacrificed to discover the truth , counselling only goes so far we need to live it .
So what have I discovered through making the sacrifice ? I realised transition is a much broader picture , like Rachael I found you may not need to take those steps to achieve YOUR GOAL . To be allowed to live full time and discover what acceptance really means has revealed I haven’t had to make the sacrifices I expected , I haven’t lost my close family , my ex-wife is a friend we still share memories with and my children accept my choices . They know I have been a good father which they respect me for , I have lost very few old friends but more importantly have made many new ones because I’m a much happier person .That I believe is the crux of my choices , denying your own happiness , suppressing what you truly are can’t go on , it’s self destructive . I believe my wife knew that but didn’t openly admit it , women aren’t oblivious to the fact they might be detroying someone they love , that is the dilemma they live with CDing is not the total problem .
Thank you for your very personal and thoughtful reply. I just read the essay to my wife and she immediately started to talk about a transphobic comment she heard in the media. She said, “I know it isn’t a choice, but it scares me!” We have to factor that in too, in addition to the other things you mention. The problem is very broad indeed.
It might be worth considering asking your wife what her fears are , from my own experience it’s not a single item but multiple ones sometimes based on misconceptions . It might also be worth considering what benefits might be gained from open acceptance . Again from my own experience the people I’ve been out with ( my daughter , her mother in law , my sister in law , my mother to name close family members ) wouldn’t do so if they didn’t feel comfortable . OK to be truthful my wife met me once , she threw her arms in the air saying , ” this is horrible , I can’t deal with it !” In her case I’ve made it clear my door remains open to her so the ball is in her court . The person that surprised me the most was my sister in law , she made nothing of meeting me for coffee even when she met an old friend while we were waiting at the paydesk .
Part of the problem we face is being out enough to gain confidence in our appearance , my post about the suntan and getting my makeup wrong emphasis that point , it dented my confidence but as I mentioned it was a useful lesson . Clothes have to be an important factor if your intention is to blend in , I admit that was alearning curve because I had to work it out for myself . We know what we like to wear but it’s not always the same thing as wearing items that don’t shout ” man in a dress ” . The often used phrase is ” own it ” before going down that road consider how you want to be accepted by not only your wife but also the public .
If I can give one word of advice and it’s something I’ve learned and that is stop looking for compliments . Consider the whole phrase when you hear , OH you look great !” That isn’t the whole sentance , the rest of it will usually be , ” Oh you look great for a man !” That can also be a problem if you are out with someone like your wife , it could imply they think you look better than she does , that comparison is also a fear they might have .
Often we can’t articulate our fears, which may come from a general sense of unease about a situation. I would equate it to the fear we feel when facing an unfamiliar social situation or the way I feel right now with the war, the pandemic and my TG life. I need to give my wife room to have those sorts of fears.
When our wives say ” I didn’t marry a woman” technically they did because we have been woman in the inside .
You have a point there. I have said many times to her that I haven’t changed inside. I think my wife holds onto that truth for dear life!
When I came out to my wife, her only worry was that I might eventually want to leave her to be with others “of my kind” like CDers are a cult. LOL. I assured her I would not. 😉
I told her she was beyond special being someone that loved me unconditionally despite coming out as feminine. I make sure she knows that quite often.
A wise woman, on both sides of the equation!
Lisa you have articulated the most accurate description of myself in your narrative. The inner turmoil etc is exactly how I feel and how I am.Thank you for expressing in such a thoughtful and accurate manner.
Hugs. Debbie x
Thank for letting me know. “Inner turmoil” is another very accurate descriptor.