A Word to the Spouses

Your husband just told you he is really female inside, and he is going to start living as a woman—he is going to have a sex change. Yikes! Yes, this is just about the worst thing that could happen to you. The life you planned, the future you depended on, it just turned to shit. The only worse thing that could happen would be the death of a child, or the death of your spouse—no, wait, this may be worse than if he just died.

I'm sorry for you; I really am. Take some time to mourn, be angry, and work through your feelings.

But eventually, you need to deal with the situation.

You can leave the relationship if you like; that course is perfectly understandable. No one in the world will fault you for it.

However, if you have any interest in seeing if you can stay together, read on. Here are things you can do, things that helped other spouses find happiness and fulfillment in relationships with their transitioned partners:

  • Don't be a victim. Don't let this situation just happen to you. Decide what you want for your life, and take positive action toward that end. (Sorry, but having your husband back as a man isn't a realistic goal. That ship has sailed. But given that reality, what is it that you want?)
  • Look for the things you've always loved in your spouse that are still present. And look for things that may be even better than before. Chances are, you spouse is happier, more outgoing, and more communicative than she ever was before.
  • Your spouse is doing what she needs to self-actualize, to discover and become her true self. Why don't you take the opportunity to do the same thing for yourself? Look, the rule book has obviously been thrown out the window. There is a new freedom in that, isn't there? This is a chance for you to become all that you can be, too.
  • Don't identify as a lesbian if you don't want to. It doesn't matter what other people think; it only matters how you think of yourself. A spouse of a trans women may identify as "a heterosexual woman who lives with my husband, who is a trans woman." Besides, you aren't attracted to women in general; and you are attracted to men in general. You just happen to be attracted to this particular person. That doesn't make you a lesbian in very many people's minds, I don't think.
  • Become active in the trans community. You will find support from other spouses of trans women, and know that you are not alone. Plus, you will be welcomed and loved in a marvelous community where you will meet many wonderful people. Soon it won't even seem freaky to you anymore. Well, not as freaky, anyway.
  • Know that any support you can give your spouse in her sex change will be hugely appreciated. She really needs your love at this time in her life. Losing you and the kids would be by far the hardest thing about her transition.
  • Rest assured that, although things will be pretty bizarre for two or three years while your spouse goes through her Cinderella phase and female puberty, it will all settle down eventually into a pretty normal, mundane existence.

Once the worst that can happen does happen, you don't need to be afraid any more. It can only get better. Do you want to start your life over fresh, enjoying your independence, and maybe searching for a new love? Or do you want to find a creative way to build a wonderful life with the love you've already found? (And by they way, your wonderful new life with your trans spouse can include a measure of independence and possibly even new love, if that's what you want.) The choice is yours. What do you want for your life?

—Lannie Rose, 6/2006