Don’t Make Promises During Transition That You Can’t Keep

The partner of a transgender woman talks about the promises we make when our partner is sad. –Trans Partners

I had my first daughter at the age of twenty one. I was by today’s standards a young mother. Sometime during those early years I had omitted the word “promise” from my vocabulary. As a rule, I never promised my children anything. Not a new toy, a play date, a trip to the mall, nothing. Looking back on it as an adult in therapy I discovered the reason that I did that was because I was promised things as a child from my parents that never came to fruition. As an adult I now understand what it costs to raise children, and they were raising five of us. However, knowing all of that I have to ask why then do parents promise their kids things that they know that they can’t follow through on?


Using the word promise is a serious pet peeve of mine. If I cannot guarantee something to you one hundred percent, then I will not promise that thing to you. It is as simple as that. The thought of promising someone something and not really knowing whether or not I can deliver really makes me nuts. I can attempt to give you the thing that you are asking for, but I will never promise it to you. Here I am in the transgender universe listening to people promise things to their partners that they cannot guarantee. I hear things like “they were so upset and crying so I just told them what they wanted to hear.” You are doing such a disservice to the quality of your relationship.

One of my biggest fears in the beginning of my wife’s transition was not knowing what would happen after she started hormone replacement therapy. What if she were no longer sexually attracted to me? What would that mean for our relationship and our family if she started to find men attractive? We discussed this topic in great length. She was very honest and told me that she really didn’t know if her sexuality would change. She didn’t know if she would find men desirable, but she did tell me that as her transition moved forward we would keep open the lines of communication on the subject. Never once did she promise me anything.


In order to get to through transition together you need to have a constant open and honest dialogue. I understand that when your partner is hurting and sad, you would do or say anything to make them feel better. However, it does more damage than good. They might feel better in that moment but a million times worse when you do not keep those promises that you made. There are many question marks down the road of transition that have no real answers, so don’t try and answer them. No two transitions are alike because no two people are alike. There can be similarities in our journeys, and we can share some of the same experiences, but we are all unique individuals.

When my wife is miserable and unhappy it hurts me to my core and in that moment; of course I want to make her pain stop. I tell her all the time; I can feel her pain tenfold. But, I will never just promise her something to give her a minute of happiness when I know that if I break that promise it could give her months of agony. Transition is not a walk in the park. Which is why we need to be honest with ourselves so we can be truthful to our partners. I didn’t really know how I was going to feel seeing my wife dressed as herself for the first time, so I did not make assumptions about it before hand. Be sincere and think about how it would make you feel if your partner just told you what you wanted to hear, only to take it back two months later. Try to remain open to them and let your love for that person