Two Sides to Every Story

Back during the summer Mandy and I were reading “She is Not There” by Jennifer Finney Boylan.

We found that doing the same things like reading the same books helped us cope with the physical distance between us. In the book there was a conversation where Jennifer is asking her wife about having gender reassignment surgery. Her wife asks her why her opinion matters when Jennifer is going to do whatever she wants to do anyway. She talks about how Jennifer never stopped to let her catch up.

“HERE WAS A WOMAN TRYING TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF HER SPOUSE AND SHE JUST NEEDED ONE THING.”

My heart broke for Jennifer’s wife. Here was a woman trying to be supportive of her spouse and she just needed one thing. She just needed time to adjust. I understood how both sides felt. I understood Jennifer wanting to progress at 100 mph and get right with her body, but in the same sense I saw a wife who just lost her husband and kids who lost a Dad. Their family just needed to be able to wrap their head around the person they loved changing and that required a little time.

A few months later Mandy and I were talking on the phone. I mentioned that I wanted to start vocal coaching to correct my masculine voice. That is when she asked “Can you not do that, please?” I did not expect that response from her. I knew that she had been wanting to say something to me but I never imagined it was this. She has always been my cheerleader encouraging me and pushing me forward every step of the way. “Honey if that is what you want, I won’t do it.” I knew she had her reasons, but all I could think about was the family left behind. I agreed without question. Strangely this did not bother me because she asked me to wait, it bothered me that I didn’t see her need. “I just need this. I am sorry.” I could hear her voice cracking as she asked. We spoke often enough and I could tell she was on the edge of tears just by the tone in her voice. “I just need you to wait till you are here. Your voice is the only physical part of you I have.” Still kind of surprised I did not push for a reason I just said, “Okay honey, I will wait till we move up there.”

“IT WAS A SMALL SACRIFICE TO MAKE FOR HER.”

I waited as she asked. It was a small sacrifice to make for her. Sure I wanted to progress at a million miles an hour, but she needed me to pause for a second. She never asked me to stop, but simply to wait for a few more months. She made a request that I could make happen for her. Not once did I begrudge her request. This was woman who has been walking this road by my side without question and it was the least I could do to make her feel more comfortable.

Mandy’s side in her words: I needed her to wait. I wasn’t ready and I know how selfish that must sound to people. I was in a long distance relationship with a woman who was physically changing every day. The woman I left at the airport just days or weeks before was not the woman I would see the next time we were able to visit. I understand this sounds shallow and that she was always the same person on the inside, but when I couldn’t physically see or touch the person I loved I needed something to hold on to.

For me this was the voice I knew. We talked for hours every day, sharing so much of our time together in one of the only ways we could. It was a source of love and comfort. Hearing her voice always made me feel good. She told me how important it was for her to sound like the woman she knew she was. She wanted to start practicing and I understood how much that meant. To me she never had a super masculine voice, it was just her own voice with the cute southern accent.

I struggled with this, she means so much to me. I didn’t want to hold her back, but I wasn’t ready. She knew something was wrong. I know that communication is so important, especially on this journey, so I told her. She was wonderful. She said she would wait until we were living together, that my feelings counted, and that she could live with that compromise. It meant so much to me that she could wait until I was ready for that change.

Now that we are together, I found a vocal coach for her and I go with her to her sessions for support and encouragement. I am grateful that she gave me the time I needed. I am excited for this next milestone, now that I am ready.

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