What Might Be
Since joining the team at Transgender Universe, I’ve made it a point to read what the others have to say where before I might have simply scanned headlines. The stories I find the hardest to read are those of U.A. Nigro. They’re passionate, emotive, and full of support for her partner. Her ability to extend her love and acceptance to so many through her words is something I wish I had - a joy to read. She’s not the only partner who writes these kinds of articles, but they’re the ones I see in recent weeks. The thing that makes her words hard for me to process is the cold rejection I faced from my now ex wife.
I came out to my ex one June morning and she recoiled. Asked angry questions and, when there was no easy answer, she withdrew. I was forced to leave the next morning. We tried to talk over the following month or so - perhaps six weeks - but eventually I asked her to leave my new home, and she did, never to speak to me again. My only contact with her is through her solicitor about our divorce, which was heard yesterday. Nobody attended; I expect a summary judgement.
“I’VE HAD A FASCINATION WITH PARTNERS THAT STAY EVER SINCE.”
I’ve had a fascination with partners that stay ever since. I want to know what makes them different; what things led to my ejection from that family. Was it how I came out? Maybe if her parents had been more accepting of me? The relationship was all ready in a bit of trouble - maybe this was an excuse for her to get rid of me. I said in the past that part of why I came out was a way to end the relationship, but one thing we all learn is how unpredictable people’s reactions can be: people you are sure will be hostile aren’t, those you think are open aren’t. It could have worked out that coming out was the thing to save my marriage rather than end it.
In the end, I’ve discovered nothing. What is, is. She went her way and made her decisions. I made mine, and now all that has come of eleven years of marriage is ash and angry letters from solicitors. It’s the worst kind of bitterness, to realise that a fourth of your life with a person can end that way. I know others have partners over far longer periods that get the same result.
I should say that I wouldn’t trade my life as it is now for anything. I have a good job that pays badly but gives me a lot of time to pursue my other projects. I fell in love again - quite unexpectedly - and I’m deliriously happy with my new partner. I’ve come to understand the extent of the psychological abuse my ex put me through, and I’m glad to be free of that bad cycle.
And yet I wonder at what might be. I read these articles that are full of encouragement and positivity, and I wonder, ‘How would I be now had my ex supported me?’ I can’t know. I was lucky to find friends and a partner that does support me in that way - and quickly - but the die was cast and that life ended. At the start, I would have worked through it with her. I was prepared to find a way forward with her, but she wasn’t, and love is not enough.
With the hearing done, my ex is a step further behind me and my life continues as though none of this is happening. I’m so far removed from the relationship - apart from processing the damage - that at times it feels weird to be reminded that she ever was. We live in the same town, yet our paths never cross. We know a couple of the same people, but they never speak of her and say they haven’t heard from her in a long time. They might be sparing me or themselves from an awkward exchange, but the functional result is the same: she’s gone.
“WHAT VERSION OF ME WOULD THAT BE? THERE ARE SO MANY: THE VERSION THAT CAME OUT AT SEVENTEEN, THE ONE THAT DIDN’T COME OUT AT ALL.”
And though I say I came out partly as a means of escape from the gaslighting and, by extension, her, there was a chance that coming out would have ended the gaslighting and kept her. People are funny. I can’t even comprehend what that might be like, but I turn it in my head. What version of me would that be? There are so many: the version that came out at seventeen, the one that didn’t come out at all. The one that stayed in America after being left there the second time, the one that fled England after being thrown out. And there’s the one that came out and was accepted by her wife.
I can understand these versions in a vague sense, but I don’t know what I could be like. The one that wasn’t thrown out is the one I least understand and have the hardest time thinking about. It’s also the one I’m confronted with most often; the one I’m made to come closest to in my mind. Nobody means for this to happen, but when you get into enough transgender media and meet enough transgender people, you read about and meet partners that stay. You make friends with them. You chat about that process to the closer friends you have. It’s painful, but fascinating, and part of life. The alternative is to not keep these kinds of friends and shut myself away - not doing that. I spent a long time shut away and denied friends. Not about to start that again.
I’m touched to know that there are people out there that love and support their partners through coming out and whatever transition they need. I’m happy for their partners, and I want that to be the way it is for everyone. It wasn’t that way for me, but I ended up OK - I’m one of the lucky ones despite being discarded. I just wish we all could be that person who is kept.