I constantly try to imagine myself in my wife’s shoes. What would it feel like to one day realize that I was a gender other than what I was assigned at birth? Living the wrong life for forty something years. I definitely don’t think that most people can deal with the inner turmoil that comes with all that, and I am not quite sure how she was able to navigate it all. My wife and I are both very empathetic people and I think that it has helped us through this process. It enables us to see each other’s point of view and validate one another’s feelings.
"THE BEGINNING OF MY WIFE’S TRANSITION WAS AN INTERESTING TIME IN OUR LIVES, NOT JUST BETWEEN THE TWO OF US BUT THE FAMILY AS A WHOLE."
The beginning of my wife’s transition was an interesting time in our lives, not just between the two of us but the family as a whole. Every day it seemed as if there were something else we needed to do that was transition related. Every conversation was sprinkled with transition talk, and every day we took one step closer to the authentic person inside. Making appointments for the therapist, doctors, and for electrolysis. Having countless discussions about the family, coming out, timelines, and expectations. I sometimes felt invisible, but I know that was not her intention.
We are now years into her transition and very far away from how is was in the beginning. We have grown and evolved, and our relationship has not only survived, but it has thrived. We have cultivated beautiful new friendships in the transgender community, and we work together to be a voice of equality for all. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Looking back on it now it has become clear to me that she was not intentionally being self-centered. Instinctively, she was working to self-preservation. She was fighting to be alive.
One statement that she has said to me repeatedly through her entire transition is, “I only have half a life to live.” It is embedded into my brain, and it makes me feel so sad for her. All of the things that she missed out on growing up as the wrong gender are like missing files in her head. I sometimes forget that no one taught her how to sit in a skirt, polish her nails, or braid her hair. The beginning of transition was a frenzied crash course in everything she never knew, not the way that most partners interpret it. That the world now revolves around the transgender person.
"FOR US AS PARTNERS, THE BEST THING THAT WE CAN DO ASIDE FROM BEING SUPPORTIVE, IS TO KEEP IN MIND THAT THEY ARE NOT JUST BEING SELFISH."
For us as partners, the best thing that we can do aside from being supportive, is to keep in mind that they are not just being selfish. They are fighting to live through the depression, anxiety, and fear that comes along with it. They are trying to make up the time they lost not living as their authentic self and they are not trying to hurt you intentionally. During this time in my wife’s transition self-care was super important. Whether it was a hot bath at the end of the day or losing myself in a good book. Doing things for myself helped to re-energize my soul and I was able to be there for all the members of my family. Keeping open the lines of communication are also very important. Sharing how you are feeling will help you to empathize with the other, and remember, this too shall pass.