When we are college-aged, we tend to plan out our lives. What age we would like to get married, how many children we would like to have, and where we would like to live etc. Personally I can tell you my plan derailed at quite a young age. I got married the first time at 20 and had my first child at 21. Not at all according to “my plan” however, I would never change a single part of my life. I examine every situation that occurs in my life, and I try to move forward the best way I know how. One of my favorite inspirational quotes is by Maya Angelou:
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
This is the way in which I have tried to live my life, so when my wife came out to me as transgender, it was just another bend in the road, not the end of one.
“I was still very much in love with this person, and I valued the commitment we made to one another and the many years we spent together.”
Talking with partners of other transgender folks, I sometimes get the feeling that they see their partner coming out as the worst thing that could possibly happen to “them”. Having gone through some distressing trauma in my life, I can honestly say that for me, it was not. My wife could have sat me down that night and said, “Honey I don’t love you anymore so I am leaving you,” or “I am having an affair,” or “I only have 3 months to live because I have cancer.” Not to be depressing, but those words would have been much harder to hear. So like everything else in my life, I took my wife’s transition one step at a time. I was still very much in love with this person, and I valued the commitment we made to one another and the many years we spent together.
So a week later when my wife had told me that she couldn’t possibly be transgender and didn’t know whether she could go through all this, I scratched my head. I looked around the room and waited for someone to jump out and say “gotcha.” Shocked and confused, I asked her for clarification. She began explaining all the reasons why she could never and should never transition. The kids, her job, society, the family, the bills, our health insurance and every other thing she could pull out of her ass. The prevalent feeling that I heard in everything she was saying, was fear. It was real and plentiful. In all our years together I had never seen her so scared of anything. It was unsettling, but I was determined not to let her quit on herself.
“We can make all the plans in life that we want to. That doesn’t mean everything will fall into place as we imagined it would.”
I went shopping for new girl clothes. Did makeup and hairdos. Polished her toes and finger nails. Listened and gave advice when I could. Held friends and family at bay while we sorted all this out. I had daily battles with dysphoria (sometimes still do). And, when she had needed it the most, I tried to reassure her that everything would be wonderful and that she was beautiful. All while promising her that one day she could just exist as her authentic self. In her opinion, it would have been much easier to just die. Horrifying words I never wanted to hear. We can make all the plans in life that we want to. That doesn’t mean everything will fall into place as we imagined it would. If we don’t turn with the road, we are liable to slam into a tree.
The suicide rate in the transgender community is 41%. Transphobia, family shunning, lack of employment, housing, and funds to transition are all factors. So hearing such horrifying words come from my wife’s mouth made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Therapy has done a world of good for everyone in my house. For so many years I subscribed to the theory that I alone can carry the world. I can get through anything unaffected. I have since walked that statement back to my wife and kids and apologized for how wrong I was to speak and think that way. I refuse to let the hurdles in this life stop me and my family from going forward. Every time the world slows down around me, and I get to see my children happy and my wife smile, I know that it was all worth it.