It was the middle of the day and I was sitting at my desk at work when it finally happened. Business was slow and I was browsing the internet, killing some time until either a customer came in or my boss realized that I was slacking off. I had recently discovered this website that my job subscribes too, called Perks at Work, it's filled with hundreds of links to websites where we get discounts just for working for the company. I purchased a package of 4 movie tickets for $25, eager to use it for our traditional Jewish Christmas at the movies. After completing my first purchase, I made my way to the link for apparel discounts. Many of the websites were places that at 300 lbs and over 6' tall, I either a) didn't meet my taste in clothes or b) didn't meet my size requirements (there's no shopping at the Gap or Old Navy for me.)
I scrolled a little more, and without even realizing what I was doing, I suddenly found myself on a website and looking at clothes that I not only absolutely loved, but might even fit me. But before my excitement could truly kick in, reality took over as I realized that none of the dresses from Torrid would look good with my massive amounts of chest hair and the beard I had been sporting for the last few months. I felt heartbroken; it wasn't fair that I couldn't wear something so beautiful. I felt no shame over wanting those dresses, those shoes, the pantyhose. But what would my wife say if she opened our closet door and saw that hanging up next to the suits that I wear to work every day?
A few days later, I was at the post office setting up my PO Box, because while I could hide clothes in a duffel bag or something, there would be no way to explain the mysterious packages from Torrid and Lane Bryant. A week later, the trunk of my car was filled with boxes that I had yet to figure out how to smuggle into the house. In addition, I found a web forum dedicated to support for Crossdressers, then a forum dedicated to Transgender support. I spent my downtime at work alternating between creating wish lists on all of these clothing sites and reading the stories by transwoman across the globe. I scrolled through pictures posted in the forums of their before and after and wanted to cry out in jealousy… Why couldn't I dress like that? As my duffle bag filled up, the question became "Why couldn't I look that good?" Memories of my childhood filled my brain of all the times that my mother told me that "Life isn't fair." But this was beyond not fair, this was torture. I assumed this is what somebody would feel like if they were drowning to death and all they could see was everyone else sitting comfortable on their pool floats.
Weeks went by and these feelings of jealousy grew stronger by the day. I wasn't sure if my wife could sense the change in me, but my sadness had halted my sex drive, and she sure as hell noticed that. I did some research and found a therapist who I felt might be a good fit and made my first appointment. Even then, I felt fear in telling my wife. How would she feel if I told her that I needed to see a therapist? I had 2 weeks until my first appointment, plenty of time to figure out how to tell her, which I finally did the day before the appointment. I explained that I had minor feelings of anxiety growing, primarily due to a new program at work requiring me to start cold calling customers, and I despised making phone calls.
My first few weeks in therapy were amazing, I was expressing feelings that I wasn't sure I could ever express to my wife, my parents, or my friends. But of course, the secret ate away at me. I bought some books for my kindle about transgenderism, about coming out, even about supporting a loved one who came out. I figured those last 2 especially would help me find the best way to open up and express this all, not to mention give me some insight on what to expect (although part of me was expecting divorce in my future.) I found every reason to not tell her… I can't tell her right before her birthday became I can't tell her right before the holidays. Once New Years passed, I couldn’t tell her so close (6 weeks) from Valentine's Day, then once February 15th came, I was fresh out of excuses… I can't tell her before Presidents Day didn't seem a reasonable excuse to continue procrastinating.
Knowing how much better I am with written words, I had written a long letter to her and kept it saved in my email, waiting for weeks until that fateful day when I would finally have the nerve to let her read it. That day came, as predicted, three days after Valentine's Day. We sat in bed, playing video games when I hit pause… The fate of Ezio Auditore and the Assassin's Creed were not quite as important as the fate of our lives. I told her that therapy had been helping a lot, and that I was finally ready to share my deepest issues with her. I told her how much I loved her and that I never wanted to live without her, but there was a lot that she needed to know. And then I told her that I thought it would be easier if she read my feelings, because it might help if she could read it all and take the time to process. My biggest fear being that if I told her aloud, she would interrupt me, she would flip out, accuse me of betraying her, and not want to accept what I was trying to say. She took her time and read the email carefully. I could see the shock and confusion in her face. We then started our discussion aloud, and she while I could see the pain and confusion in her eyes, she assured me that she would love me no matter what and accept whatever I needed to do.
Over the next few months, we struggled a lot. There were more tears then can be counted, she joined those same web forums that I had joined and found some peace in reading the stories of other significant others. She came with me a couple of times to therapy and tried to let herself out of her comfort zone. After 7 months of therapy and soul searching, I decided that, at least for now, the category of Gender Neutral fit me best. I love the idea of being a woman, and I think there is a good part of me that would love to live that way permanently, however, there is a big part of me that enjoys putting on a suit and tie in the morning, and at the core of it all, I don't totally despise my genitals, I enjoy having sex with my wife, I desperately want to have children of our own (even though 2 years of unprotected sex has so far failed to grant us that dream.)
Ultimately, as far as my current feelings on life go, I just can't imagine going under the knife. I don't feel the need to remove any permanent parts of my body. I strongly wish to do something about the ridiculous amounts of hair and have done some research on laser hair removal, something that I need to look more into and start saving for. My wife however, loves my hairiness. She enjoys running her hand through the jungle that lives on my chest, and even seven months later, she still gives me the sad puppy dog eyes every time that I am preparing to shave the stubble from my cheeks. I know in time she will get more comfortable with my lack of body hair and that she will still love every smooth inch of me. I have never and will never doubt our emotional love and our attraction for each other. We love each other, unconditionally. And in the end, that's all that truly matters.
*Update* So I wrote this article a few weeks ago and realized after I posted that I had not updated the original post that a few things have changed. One factor that I left out of the original post is that when I originally told my wife that I felt gender neutral, she had told me that she did not fully believe me. I was quite upset at first, because I felt she was accusing me of lying to her. A ridiculous concept since telling her that sort of lie now, would only make the truth hurt more when it could not be kept any longer. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, not long after I wrote this post originally. I was out with a friend who happens to be a trans-man. It was our first time hanging out without significant others and we got into a more personal conversation about our journeys as he only came out about 2 months ago himself. So when I got to the part about my wife not believing me, he told me that while he doesn't want to undermine my feelings and identity, but he gets the same feeling about me as well.
My first reaction was to want to say "Dude, you've known me for a month, WTF." But as I thought more of it, I realized that he probably sees a lot of the same emotions that he has felt himself, especially in dealing with his relationship as a former lesbian. I spent the rest of the night overthinking things and when I got home, I talked to my wife about it all. She told me that she never thought I was lying to her, but that I was lying to myself. Using it as a self-defense mechanism in order to make life easier. I ended up writing a long journal entry about where I was in life and who I wanted to be. The next day, I let my wife read and we had a long conversation about things. She has become a lot more comfortable with everything since joining TRCLI and finding this website, and told me that she loves me for me and not for my genitals. If I need to transition she will be with me all the way. I still do not see surgery in my future, I have very mixed feelings about the idea. I may research about going on hormones and doing a partial transition, I feel in my heart that it will be enough for me... at least for now.