Chapter 2 - Finding Support
The next few weeks were tough and we revisited the conversations about our future and her fear of losing "her husband" a few times. Tears continued to be shed by both of us, "I don’t know if I can do this" started being said more often than "I love you" and I lost count of how many times I lay in bed at night worrying that tomorrow would be the day where Kat decided she could no longer handle this new part of me and decide that she was ready to pack up and leave..
It was towards the end of March when I finally talked her into joining me for a session with my therapist. I had started seeing Brittany at the beginning of January, and even in such a short time, she had helped me start to become more comfortable with whom I was and helped me find the best ways to express my needs, especially when it was time to come out to Kat and my parents.
I knew it was going to be a difficult afternoon. For a long time, Kat had been very against the idea of therapy in general. She understood the importance of having somebody with mental health knowledge to talk to about your deepest issues and fears. On the flip side, Kat had a deep fear of being judged despite knowing that such a professional would never criticize a patient in such a way. Still, she was terrified not only of those fears coming true, but she was uneasy knowing that since we were seeing MY therapist, that Brittany would "take my side" on anything and make Kat feel even worse about everything..
As we walked into the office, I handed Kat the car keys and promised that she could leave anytime that she liked if she felt uncomfortable. Over the next 45 minutes, we had a good conversation about our lives, our marriage and where those things would be going as I figured out who I truly was. Kat fidgeted with my keychain throughout the session, but was able to stay. Some tears were shed, as were expected, and she didn’t talk too much, but she stayed strong and we both got a lot out of the time. Brittany had us do a fun exercise on compatibility where she asked us a series of word associations and had us compare our answers afterwards, if we were playing the Newlywed Game, we would have easily won the grand prize.
"...WE SET A GOAL TO TRY AND FIND SOME SORT OF SUPPORT GROUP IN ORDER FOR US TO MEET WITH NOT ONLY OTHER TRANSGENDER PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF, BUT HOPEFULLY OTHER PARTNERS AS WELL."
After our session with Brittany, we set a goal to try and find some sort of support group in order for us to meet with not only other transgender people like myself, but hopefully other partners as well. We knew that being around those who knew our struggle and have ridden this very same rollercoaster could be the most healing interaction possible. Still, Kat was nervous, maybe even more so then going to therapy. She was terrified that she wouldn't seem supportive enough and that people would automatically judge her, not only as an unloving partner, but as bigoted towards the LGBT community.
I had already spent some time over the last few months scrolling through and occasionally posting on a couple of online support forums that helped me get to the point I was at now. Kat read posts by partners, but continued to hold back from posting her own feelings and concerns. Over the next few weeks, we discussed going to a meeting that was hosted nearby by a local LGBT support center, but one of us kept coming up with an excuse not to go, one of us was always too anxious to take that first step towards finding new friends. Several times, I had made plans to go by myself to get a feel for the group, but something always blocked me from attending.
As Kat started to get more comfortable with my identity, we strayed away from the idea of going to a support group; feeling if our relationship was doing well, we didn’t need any extra support. We stopped discussing the matter as much and just focused on our normal evenings and, I admit, I stopped putting as much thought into my identity. Soon however, it was a news headline of all things that gave us a strong pull back towards the issue and got us out of the house.
When the President announced that he was going to instate a military ban against transgender people, it of course infuriated us both as it did all members of our community. Kat was online when she saw a press conference hosted by that same LGBT Center we had been long discussing attending meetings with. They announced that later in the week, when the President was going to be holding an event in our area, they would be protesting against the ban. This had sealed the deal for Kat, and she immediately expressed interest in attending that night's support group.
"IT WAS UNLIKE ANYTHING WE COULD HAVE IMAGINED, BEING AROUND OTHER PEOPLE LIKE US..."
It was unlike anything we could have imagined, being around other people like us; Transgender members of our community and their partners, some of who were very accepting and some who were still struggling with this whole concept. We both still felt a bit awkward and struggled to share our story, but by the end of the evening, we both talked a little about our feelings. I talked about my lifelong struggle with my identity, stealing my mother's clothes when I was home alone as a teenager, coming out at 20, climbing back into the closet at 21, all the way up to this year.
Kat spoke about her fears of losing me, not feeling that she could be with a woman, and fearing that I would one day decide that I wanted to be with somebody who accepted me better. I knew how hard all of this was for her and I could almost hear the tears welling up. She was baring her soul and opening herself up to the potential judgment that she was terrified of. But, what came next took both of us by surprise when a quiet girl sitting next to her suddenly let out a tear-filled sigh of her own..
It turns out that just a few weeks earlier, this girl's partner came out as trans-masculine. She felt a bit lost and confused being that she always had and still does identify as a lesbian, but here she was. Suddenly she was deeply in love with a man and it was causing her a lot of internal grief and confusion. Hearing Kat share her story meant the world to this girl and helped her realize that all hope is not lost, her sexual identity was not in question, and that she could still love this man no matter what.
Kat and I left that evening feeling like a weight had been lifted from our chests, we had met others who helped us feel complete, and we had helped others feel the same. There was now a whole new world ahead of us, and we could work on solving our issues without fear of what it meant for our relationship. But, as amazing as we suddenly felt, little did we know that an even brighter light lay just ahead of us. In just a few weeks we would find another support group that would change our lives in ways we never thought were possible and make not only some amazing new friends, but a wonderful second family as well.