Getting Stuffed Into the Closet During Your Partner’s Transition

The spouse of a transgender woman talks about her time feeling isolated during her wife's transition. - Trans Partners

After my wife had come out to me, she decided the order in which she would come out to our family, extended family, and friends. Unfortunately, one family member decided that it was their tale to tell, so that threw a wrench into my wife’s plan. Since we are a “roll with the punches” kind of people, we took it in stride, dealt with it the best way we knew how, and tried to move forward. It is never easy dealing with a disappointment, and when a family member whom you trusted is the cause of it, the sting is a bit harsher. You can forgive, but the hurt feelings never seem to go away.

“MY WIFE WAS THE CONDUCTOR, THIS WAS HER SYMPHONY, AND I PROMISED TO FOLLOW HER LEAD.”

Although our inner circle had known at this point, there were many facets of our lives that, at some point, needed to hear this news. My wife was the conductor, this was her symphony, and I promised to follow her lead. Especially since the family member who shared this with other family members was related to me. I knew I needed to respect my wife’s wishes. The timeline was all about her, what she was comfortable with and the pace that she wanted. She was happy starting hormone replacement therapy and all the changes that had started as a result. Outside the house, she lived as her dead name, inside the house and in safe spaces; she was able to live as her authentic self. Looking back at it all now, it was a turbulent time in our home.

I sometimes felt like I was living with two people. Watching what appeared to be a man walking out my front door in the morning and welcoming my wife home at the end of a long day. Things like not being able to say her name in public, and speaking to coworkers and having to refer to her as my husband was so very strange. Not having a soul in the world to share this news with and who could understand what I was going through was difficult. The good changes and the bumps in the road were all just stuck rattling around in my own head. It all made me feel a little nuts to say the least. I felt as if I were stuffed into the closet and had to keep this secret. It was just so hard. I wanted to be able to share what I was experiencing, but I wasn’t able to.

“WATCHING MY WIFE COME ALIVE WAS AMAZING.”

It was also an exciting time in our lives. Watching my wife come alive was amazing. Feeling for the first time in years that she was truly happy in her own skin. She was ready to live again, and I had a front row seat to her transformation. I wanted to tell everyone how incredible it was to witness, I wanted to share my joy, but I couldn’t. She was not ready. This isolation from the world was a difficult time in my wife’s transition. We didn’t socialize, go to parties, or family functions. I felt cut off from the world like we were living on the edge of society. So I turned to the Internet. I looked for online communities of partners who were going through the same thing that I was. I needed to be heard and to share my experience. There is not enough support out there for partners or for transgender people. I was lucky to find some groups on Facebook. I was lucky enough to be asked to write for Transgender Universe. It gave me my voice back.

Here we are years later, and we are out and proud. We are active members in the transgender and gender non-conforming community where we live, and I am finally out of the closet. It was a strenuous time in the history of our family, but we all managed to get through it. I can’t stress enough how important it is for the partners of transgender folks to find support. Whether you decide to stay or part ways, support from people who have been there is imperative. Finding a good therapist, or better yet, a gender therapist is also a valuable tool. Although they have not been where you are, they may be able to help you along the way. Always remember to put yourself on your to do list. Self-care is super important, and communication between you and your partner should always be your number one priority. Transition is a scary, exciting, angry, confusing, and marvelous happening in your life. Be prepared for all of it.

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