The Evolution of an Activist
by U. A. Nigro
The beginning of transition is a stressful time. Not only for the person transitioning, but for their partner too. We are asked to dive into a life we know nothing about and accept what is to come. Many spouses make the decision to leave the relationship, and they all have their own reasons. For me that was not an option. The love I have for my wife was greater than my fears of the unknown, greater than the rejection I may face from the world, and greater than the negativity I may hear from my peers. So I came into this new phase of life ready to learn.
“I WAS MADE TO FEEL BAD FOR MAKING SOMEONE ELSE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT I WAS MARRIED TO A TRANSGENDER WOMAN.”
After my wife and I both publicly came out on social media, I found myself many times tongue tied. I had to retrain my brain with the proper pronouns. I had to throw out he, him, and my husband, and replace them with she, her, and my wife. At home, with certain close friends and family members, I was comfortable to speak freely. However outside of those circles proved to be changeling. I was not at all comfortable. I was fairly certain that there were people in my life that I had to deal with on a daily basis who were not as accepting as others. Such as neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances. I remember saying “my other half” at work for a long time. Or while out in public spaces with my girls having to look around before I could speak of her. Learning how to deal with the strange looks we would get when my wife and I were out together and I would call her Honey.
Thinking about it today, almost three years later, I am not too sure that I was uncomfortable referring to my wife with the correct pronouns. I think I was more concerned about making the other person uncomfortable. How insane is it that our society puts these restraints on us? I was made to feel bad for making someone else uncomfortable with the fact that I was married to a transgender woman. I never asked anyone else to stand a minute in my shoes. I made the choice to stay, honor my wedding vows, and continue to love my wife who is also my best friend. I am not being held against my will. How ludicrous. To think that subconsciously, my brain changed my language depending on whom I was speaking with or who might over hear what I was saying.
“WHY IS IT THAT THE TRANSGENDER AND GENDER NON-CONFORMING FOLKS STILL DON’T HAVE THE SAME PROTECTIONS UNDER THE LAW THAT CISGENDER FOLKS DO?”
At some point through the years, my frustration with the human race turned into anger (Which through therapy I learned is not so good to hold on to). So I decided to do something positive with that. I turned my anger into activism. We are all made of the same skin and bone. We are all entitled to the same protections. We all require food, shelter, medical care, and compassion. Why is it that the transgender and gender non-conforming folks still don’t have the same protections under the law that cisgender folks do? Why is it ok for my wife to lose her job simply because she is transgender? Or for a transgender person to be denied medical treatment? In simplest terms, it is not ok. It is unfair and unjust. This community needs more allies.
Almost three years later and I am still in an amazing and loving relationship. Our children have adjusted to the change and are thriving. I get the opportunity to share my journey on a weekly basis through Transgender Universe. I get to meet and correspond with transgender people and their families through email. I run a weekly support group in my area for families and partners of transgender people. I get the opportunity to educate others about the transgender experience. And, when I can I go to rallies and marches for transgender rights. These things were never part of my life plan, but I am happy doing the work. The universe put this in my path and gave me two choices, I could run far away from it all and pretend I never loved this beautiful person or I could stand with her and fight for her rights. I chose the ladder.