Accidental Parenting Through Transition

The partner of a transgender woman talks about stepping into the role of mother.

Coming to terms with your truth and making the decision to live life as your authentic self is tough. When a person makes the decision to physically transition, hormone replacement therapy is usually one of the top five things on the to do list. When my wife started HRT, I had no idea what to expect and the unknown is always a little frightening. I had done some reading about the effects of hormone replacement therapy on a transgender discussion website. The one thing that was echoed over and over again was that no matter what the age of the transgender person, a second puberty was in the horizon.

It got me thinking back to when I went through puberty. What my experiences were, how the introduction of hormones changed me physically, and what kinds of interactions I had with my family and friends. Then, I thought about going through puberty with each of our daughters. I really don't know which one was harder on me. Going through it myself or going through it with my kids, but I did know that it was all a little nutty. Now, I was preparing to go through puberty one more time with my wife, and the both of us were in our 40's.

"HANDS DOWN, THE BEST PART OF HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY WAS WATCHING MY WIFE COME TO LIFE."

Hands down, the best part of hormone replacement therapy was watching my wife come to life. It was as if she had gone away for a spa retreat and come home rejuvenated. Everything we did in those first few months she was doing for the first time. From her first trip to the salon to shopping and everything in between. I enjoyed teaching her lots of new things, like different ways to do her hair, and how to paint her fingernails. After years of battling depression, it was amazing to watch her rebirth. I was secretly hoping that I could keep up with her newfound energy and vigor for life.

She was definitely on hormones for several months before I saw what reminded me of a temper tantrum. We were out shopping at a craft store for accessories that we needed for a costume party. She got frustrated with me in the store and instead of talking it through, she told me to forget about it, she didn't want to go to the party anymore, and that she wanted to go home. Shock hit me first. I had never seen her act like that before, but I was not willing to let it stop me from getting what we needed and going to this party. As much as I wanted to go back at her with some swear words, and scold her like a child, I kept my head. I reminded myself that I was dealing with the 13 year old inside her.

"THIS IS THE REASON I AM THANKFUL FOR THE ONLINE AND IN PERSON SUPPORT GROUPS FOR PARTNERS THAT I ATTEND."

This is the reason I am thankful for the online and in person support groups for partners that I attend. It always makes me feel better to hear that I am not the only one having these experiences, and that I am not alone feeling the way I do. Being able to share with one another is amazing, and the support that I get from these people is priceless. It seems that the occasional shift into mothering is true for the partners of transgender men as well. I have heard partners of trans men tell a similar tale. Having to deal with bursts of anger and rage. Slamming things and punching holes in walls to express their frustration. This might not be the best way to communicate how you are feeling. Not to mention how frightening it can be to the partner.

I do sometimes feel that I am thrust into the roll of mother, but it is not the fault of my wife or I. This is just an unavoidable byproduct of years of suppressed feelings and denying her inner self. Through it all, I try to remind myself that she was not socialized as a girl. She missed out on her mother doing her hair, playing with dolls, and having girlfriends. Subsequently there are things that she never learned and holes of information missing. I love my wife with all my heart and soul. I am elated that I am the person who gets to fill those holes.

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