After my wife came out to me, I had no sense of what the road ahead looked like. I had no one to talk to and no resources were available where I live. It didn't take long for the fear to set in and my survival instincts to start tingling. I, like many other partners, took to the internet and read everything I could find. What I found, was a whole lot of nothing, hence the reason I started writing for Transgender Universe. Since then, websites and message boards for partners have emerged. Facebook pages for the support of partners only, have popped up, and more and more partners have come forward and started sharing their stories. All of which are to the benefit of us all.
"NO TWO PEOPLE ARE ALIKE, THEREFORE NO TWO TRANSITIONS ARE ALIKE, AND I DON'T PRETEND TO KNOW IT ALL."
There is no real "how to" book on transitioning, and those that attempt to exist are mostly rubbish. We are all such diverse human beings. No two people are alike, therefore no two transitions are alike, and I don't pretend to know it all. I can only speak of my own journey through my wife's transition. However, it is a roller coaster ride. One day you are at the top and feeling marvelous and the next day you hit a drop and it feels like someone pulled the earth out from underneath of you. However, there are some common experiences that we as partners will go through in the early years.
- The first of these adverse experiences is navigating the grieving process. I had never experienced anything so bizarre in my life than to grieve a person who was still living. Losing someone that continues to be a presence in your life is a mind bending concept. Looking back on it, I would say that it was more of a learning process for me. I had to let go of a piece of her that I thought I knew, but in reality was just an act. In her attempt to live up to societal expectations, she needed to act a certain way. Once I let go of that piece go I was able to see her inner beauty that she had been hiding for most of her life. Practicing self-care is an especially important part of getting to the other side of grief.
- Next we dealt with doubt. After she had the realization that she was in fact transgender, she had many moments of doubt. We would take two steps forward then three steps back. She had periods where she thought she just could not go through with transition, and she could continue her life in denial. Living your truth is harder than it seems. Doubt can be a sinister emotion and it has a way of twisting reality. She doubted that she would be passable. And, she doubted that our family and friends would accept her. I made it a point to reassure her every step of the way and remind her that the hardest things in life never come easy.
- Finally, expect the unexpected. Which might sound like a frightening statement, nevertheless, it is very true. Expect to learn all about dysphoria and it's crippling effects. Be ready to participate in activities with your partner that you never thought you would. Expect the introduction of hormone therapy and the ups and downs that come from that. Be prepared for your partner’s outward appearance to change. Expect rude and intrusive questions from friends, coworkers, and family. Expect to feel things that you had never felt before, and expect to question everything, even your own sexuality. If you begin this journey with an open heart and an open mind, the outcome will be brighter.
In most cases, this is something that your partner has dealt with for years, consciously or otherwise. Remind them that this is all new for you and allow yourself to feel how you feel. Reach out to other partners and support one another. If you have the means to see a therapist, do it! Communicate with each other like your relationship depends on it, because it does. Take care of you so you can help your partner to take care of themself. Denying who they are has a tendency to leave some scars behind. Be patient.
I have a much better understanding now than I did in the beginning.