Watching Others Manipulate Their Transgender Partners

U.A. Nigro

We are all wonderfully unique people. Because of this fact, we have all had our own unique reaction to hearing that our partner is transgender and wants to transition. Anyone who has read any of my articles knows that I have been supportive of my wife’s transition from the very beginning. Most partners have an unpleasant reaction at first, but I was open minded and ready to learn. I am not one hundred percent sure why I was not in total shock when she told me like some partners are, but I am guessing a little part of me had already seen that little feminine part of her and knew that she existed.

Having met so many partners online from all over the world and some in person, I have heard many transition stories. Some include acceptance for the partner who is transitioning and some only intolerance toward them. I have witnessed partners who eventually educate themselves start out by saying “if they transition, then I am leaving,” to “I love you, I will stay and support you.” As I have said many times before, I never pass up an opportunity to educate, to the best of my ability, about the transgender experience. I am lucky in that regard as I have the partner’s prospective, and everything that I learn from TGNC folks at the transgender resource center where I volunteer.


However, I have seen many transgender folks being manipulated into not transitioning by the people who are meant to love them the most, their cisgender partners. It is so very awful to watch. They come up with any and every excuse they can to stop transition. Your health is not good, hormone replacement therapy is dangerous, I want to have children, you have mental health issues, the kids are too young, the kids are too old, your parents may have a heart attack, I will leave you. And it goes on and on, and for some reason they get away with it. How, I don’t really know. Perhaps it is like brainwashing. If they say the same things over and over again, eventually the other person starts to believe it is true. I have seen this happen so many times and it is truly disgusting. Eventually the transgender partner just says, “I just can’t transition otherwise; bla, bla, and bla will happen.”

Watching my wife go from this miserable person living a sorry excuse of an existence, to a happy go lucky girl was one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not sure if I ever shared that with her, but I hope that fact brings a smile to her face now. I simply do not understand how a person who says that they love you can stand by and be witness to your misery. We only get a very short time on this earth, why would you want your partner to live through it miserably? Doesn’t everyone wish for authenticity and contentment in life for the person they love most? If you think about it, you are essentially robbing them of their happiness. It is not fair, you should never ask your partner to deny what makes them whole because it makes you uncomfortable.

If loving your partner unconditionally through transition is something that you know you cannot deal with, then gracefully walk away. After educating yourself, learning all the facts, couples therapy, and whatever else you think is good to try doesn’t work, then go your separate way. Accept that they are who they are and close the book on the romantic part of your relationship. Find a way to love them as a friend and let them live the life that they were meant to live. If you have children together, figure out how to co-parent together in harmony. Understand that being transgender is not a choice and do not punish them for wanting to be authentic.

Comments (5)
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I came out as non-binary and not sure what it meant and sought a therapist when I pretty quickly realized I wasn’t just somewhat gender noncorming but seemed at each step to be responding more to the feminine and realized I was probably binary but the other binary! It’s different here in the US but it was hard for me to involve doctors and trust therapists after a fairly bad experience in my teens. My therapist acknowledged by the end of our first session how much I had worked out and has already recommended HRT; so it has been good so far but it’s early. I sought out someone recommended by trans people and I work at a progressive company that has a trans mailing list internally. I also early on found a support group and that has been amazing for avoiding pitfalls early in transition. It sounds like in the UK there may be less choice of provider (and in most of the US just by lack of options, I live in a place where I have several) and that is scary.

Avari Merchant
Avari Merchant

Although to be fair, the US has become so hostile to trans people, that cis folks may genuinely fear for their partner's safety and economic security if they transition. And if someone doesn't absolutely HAVE to transition in today's society, they're better off not doing it.


I went through that for years and as I became more depressed it moved to verbal and emotional abuse. Now years later, I am divorced and get frequent triggers from that. The gift that keeps on giving

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