The beginning of hormone replacement therapy for most transgender folks is often thought of as a rebirth. It is an introduction into the world as their true and authentic selves and it is marvelous. They experience things like, their first make-over, first shopping spree, first suit and tie, first hair cut that aligns with their proper gender and so on. Even the mundane tasks in their proper skin seem new to them. I have heard transgender folks describe this time period in transition to me as “euphoric,” and “like living on cloud nine.” Or as they like to call it “the pink cloud.” I have witnessed my own wife prance around the house in a new outfit, lay on the sofa with our youngest daughter to discuss the new make-up trends, and giggle like a schoolgirl. At our age, it was truly fascinating.
“I wondered if our love was strong enough to survive this and if we would remain together as a family with everyone’s sanity in tact.”
When my wife started hormones, everything for her was amazing and new. She couldn’t wait to try the next “new” thing. Painting her nails, going to the hair salon, and getting new clothes were all so awesome for her. It was sometimes hard for me to see her so happy as I was dealing with my own transition. Dealing with feelings of grief and questioning everything around me, including my own sexuality. I was fielding questions from friends and family members who did not feel comfortable just asking my wife. I was confused as to where we would go from here. I wondered if our love was strong enough to survive this and if we would remain together as a family with everyone’s sanity in tact. The “pink cloud” had filled my house and I was choking on it.
So what happens when they dance themselves off the cloud and into a fog, a “pink fog?” In my experience they return to a state of despair and depression. Doubts about “passing” come flooding in and they are rendered helpless. Dysphoria rears its ugly head and the shirt that looked gorgeous on her yesterday now looks frumpy and gross. Tempers run high and fuses are quick to light. Fighting for acceptance at work and from family members is no longer worth it and they sometimes feel they are better off dead. These are the moments in transition that I could have lived without. Watching the person you love most in the world sink into a hole of depression is so very difficult. It makes you feel helpless.
In talking to other spouses and partners of transgender folks, I started to notice a pattern. They too complained of a cyclical depression that their partners went through as well. As if the “pink fog” rolls in monthly. One partner actually tracked her spouse’s mood and wrote it down on her calendar for several months to see if she was imagining this. One partner calls it her wife’s “time of the month.” I have heard partners of transgender men tell similar stories. However in their case the sadness and crying seem to be replaced by fits of anger and rage. I don’t claim to know why this happens, or if it is something that can be addressed in therapy, I have just noticed that it is happening in all walks of transgender life.
“Keeping this in mind I move forward with more empathy in my heart.”
Keeping this in mind I move forward with more empathy in my heart. I remind myself of the things I need when I am feeling low, and the ways in which I like to relax, unwind, and forget about my woes. I enjoy a back rub, a hot bath, and to be thanked for the things I do every day that go unnoticed. So I try to be an extra supportive and loving wife, all the time reminding myself of the long road that my wife has taken to get here. The hurdles she had to jump over to live as herself. All the years of suppressing her yearning to be the woman she was to make it through another day. Denying the little voices in her head that said she was not like everyone else. This is not an easy journey, but the rewards are many. Peering through the pink fog I can see only happiness in our future. Watching my wife live a happy and fulfilled life has been marvelous.