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Uncoupling

Uncoupling

By Anonymous

No preparation. No warning. No clue. Just the announcement: “I’ve decided I’m transgendered.” We’ve been married for thirty-three years.

couple-separated1The details come out: for the past several years he’s been fishing my discarded underwear out of the trash, trying them on when I’m not home. Reading lesbian romance novels on his e-reader, a private account he hid from me. Watching “Transparent” at night after I’ve gone to bed. He’s already talked it all over with a mutual friend, one who is a counselor, “so it’s ok.” He thinks he’ll transition, but not just yet. For now, he says, he’s not planning to come out publicly. Just like that, I’m pulled into his closet.

More revelations. He wants to “act the part of a woman” in bed. He wants to wear women’s lingerie, satin and lace. He wants to lie back, spread his legs; he wants me to lie on top of him between his legs. He wants to be penetrated. He thinks if he’s sexually submissive he’ll feel “like a woman.” For him, I do these things, although we’re not trading places, because I’ve never worn what he’s wearing, felt what he’s feeling.

He also wants us to be two women together; he wants to “act as a lesbian” to me. When he buries his face between my legs he moans with the pleasure of accessing what he wants for himself. He can’t get enough of me. He’s so in love with me, so grateful; he’ll never forget the wonderful gift he’s been given.  At first, it’s wildly exciting.

But then it isn’t. I want my husband back; I want our two bodies to talk together as they used to do. Out of the question: that’s now forbidden. He tells me he hates his male body, rejects male sexual response. He likes “being taken” and “giving himself up.” I don’t recognize his version of female.

He shaves off his beard. He shaves off his chest hair. He shaves under his arms, between his thighs. He says hair is male, and women are smooth. But he won’t shave his legs, because someone might “guess.” I have hair, too: on my legs, under my arms, on my face. When I shave my face I begin to feel shame; as a woman I’m clearly a failure.

He buys himself women’s clothes to wear around the house: a white slip, a swishy skirt. He adopts new mannerisms: simpering, dipping his chin, he coyly drops a slip strap. He grows emotional, makes a show of crying openly. A caricature of woman.

When I express my discomfort, my doubts, my pain, he tells me I’ve shamed him; he calls me cisgenderist, transphobic, a TERF. Yet living in his closet—where I never agreed to live—I have no one else to talk to. I can’t tell my family, my friends, my colleagues; to do so would be to “out” him.

No preparation. No warning. No clue. Just the announcement: “I’ve decided I’m transgendered.” We’ve been married for thirty-three years.

The author has requested that her name not be published. 

successful woman

18 Comments

  1. When my transgender partner came out to me it was a shock but not a surprise. She had made it clear that she was questioning herself in various ways. It was rather like what Anonymous explains concerning her partner.
    Mine knew she wasn’t a gay man but needed to understand the depth of this new sense of herself. She also came to see that she was not simply a cross dresser and neither did the cross dressing have any fetish quality to it. Which is to say that she did not experience any sexual arousal or sensation and neither again was it ever a part of our sex life together until she started gender transition.
    She also came to understand what her situation was because of the wealth of info on the internet.
    Ultimately what helped most was a group of questioning and trans identified people that she met with once a week for a course at a health center. Before the 12 week course was over she had identified as transgender and came out to me.
    It was my inquiry about how the course was going that prompted her to say something.
    I was shocked and for a few weeks I did have a “I’m getting screwed in all of this” reaction.
    I would drink some wine to try and feel calm but instead it would make me feel sad
    Thankfully it didn’t take more than a few weeks and I calmed enough to decide what I wanted to do.
    I decided that I still loved her and wanted to try staying together
    It has been 20 months since she came out to me.
    She is still the person I love, she is not a stereotypical idea of a women. She has her own sense of style that is quite attractive actually.
    She doesn’t claim to be a woman in the same sense as I am.
    She sees me as the cisgender woman and she is a transgender woman.
    She knows that she can’t know what a natal female feels like but she does have the sense of being female rather than male which is what is at the center of a transgender persons sense of self.
    For my part I know that I can never understand what it means to be transgender because I am…

  2. What did he mean when he said he “decided” that he was transgendered? That seems a strange way to phrase it. I’ve long assumed that this isn’t something one “decides” but something that one “is.” Did he mean he has realized it, he has now accepted it, or that he’s finally made up his mind about what gender he is? I could believe either of the first two, but I have a hard time with the third. How does one “decide” s/he’s transgendered? It’s not like when you decide you want lasagna instead of pizza, or you decide to go to the mountains for vacation instead of the seashore.

    • That’s a great question, but my husband seemingly “decided” it out of the blue as well. Granted, you can’t know everyone’s secret thoughts, but you can look at the tons of evidence before you and decide that sometimes it quacks like a duck.

      • Are you saying your husband’s decision – while from your perspective, it came out of the blue – was something he had had secret thoughts about, or you had secreet thoughts or suspicions? What I am trying to get at is the “decision” part – what is being decided, and is “deciding it” even applicable here? I wish I could decide that my eyes are blue and not hazel, and that I still have a full head of hair, but I can’t. The only decision I can make is whether to be realistic about it and accept that my hair is thinning and my eyes aren’t blue and never will be. and deal with it.

        I’m not trying to play games with semantics, I am trying to clarify and understand the thought process. Because, I admit, this is foreign territory to me.

        • Here’s what it meant: it meant that my husband had for years suffered from a longing that he didn’t know how to describe or name. Over many years he tried on various ways to make himself feel better, none of which was in any way related to cross dressing or acting like a woman or thinking himself a woman or longing to be a woman. (For example, he once described himself as “a male feminist.”) He had no “secret thoughts” and I had no “secret thoughts or suspicions.” Only in the last few years, with the rise of transgender awareness, did he begin to try on this new idea, and then to feel like he had a name for what he felt. You know, just as before someone named the phenomenon of “date rape,” those of us who’d been “date raped” always just thought of it as “our fault.” And then we didn’t. He has a desire to be female, but he knows he isn’t–which is different from “being one thing or another,” like blue and brown eyes.
          Gender, unlike our biological sex, is not something we “are”; it’s something we can express regardless of our biological sex. Trans women are claiming they’re women based on their desire to behave in the ways traditionally designated “feminine.” Have you ever thought about how it is that a natal male who has lived 50 plus years as a male, can even know what a woman feels inside? You can’t. Thus all the stereotypes he exhibits when he’s acting like a woman.

          • Thank you for your post. I am bran spanking new to this and when I point out that some of my husb-wife’s new aesthetics are sexist I get yelled at. I’m told I don’t understand, that I’m a feminazi, I’m genderist, and unsupportive. I’m not sure what to do, but the knowledge that other women (or men) are suffering too makes me feel better a bit (sadistic, I know). Thanks for sharing.

          • “Here’s what it meant: it meant that my husband had for years suffered from a longing that he didn’t know how to describe or name.”
            If he had “for years suffered from” something he didn’t how to describe, this was not a “decision” so much as a “realization” when he finally learned a word that fit him and described his years of confusion. If he decided anything, it was that “transgendered” is the word that came closest to describing him; is that the decision he made? In other words, the decision was more like “I’m not a cross dresser, and I’m not gay; what I am is transgendered.” It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, it was a truth about himself that he had searched for, and for years, but didn’t have a word for it. When he finally found the word, he was able to decide what to do about it.
            Thank you for your response. Correct me if I didn’t hear it accurately, but what I understand is that “decided” here really means “came to accept.” But for every action, there is an equal and corresponding reaction; meaning, this puts you in a position of making decisions now too. Do you want to stay in this marriage or not? Do you want to support him in his exploration or not? If you choose to support him, what does that mean to you? Does it mean you must agree to everything he asks or everything others expect? Where are your limits and boundaries, and do you know what they are and are you willing to express them to him and enforce them, now that he has begun expressing his truth to you? For example, if you’re not a lesbian, you are not required to have lesbian sex with him; you can say “No.”
            A few things still don’t make sense to me. The comparison to “date rape” seems a false equivalency to me; that is something that is done to a person by someone else, it is not what a person inherently “is.” Another is him using your underwear; do you and he have the same waist size, can you and he wear the same underwear? Why would he have to resort to fishing your discarded…

  3. A very well written account of a familiar heartbreak. I’ve been there and I feel your pain.

  4. Get out, get your money separate. He will pull you down

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Wonderful blog entry. I am going through the exact thing and your experiences are my experiences. We just started counseling with a transgender specialist. Not sure we will stay together long term.

    • My trans-wife and I started with a therapist that isn’t trans savvy. I thought it would keep the playing field level. I already feel that if I do anything that isn’t telling her how awesome she is I’m accused of being unsupportive. It definitely helped. But it was only a week before we got into another big fight.

  6. Legs can be explained away easily, “I’ve taken up swimming”

    There are some bumps along the way and name calling doesn’t help but no one is perfect. Try going to this counselor together, you need to talk to someone too.
    (Going through same as you. The secrecy is maddening. If I could only stand up with signs, proclaim my proud trans marriage…but no. The secrets..they feel alot like shame)

    • My wife (former husband) started telling everyone recently. We work at the same place. No one will bring it up to me directly. But everyone asks, after she tells them, if I know and if we’re breaking up. Apparently if a guy wants to be a woman they also assume he’s gay for dudes. They look at me like I’m doomed.

  7. I’d love to think this is just him, but I have known other women through SSN support groups in person and online, who report the same name calling and abusiveness. You are not the only wife who is called a TERF when standing up for herself. Seems to be a political response to a personal situation.

    Others have also observed that in their marriages, the transition was less about becoming a woman as they experience it, and more about growing breasts, dressing up, shaving body hair, altering appearance, and conforming to some male notion of femininity that doesnt add up to the true experience of gender.

    It sounds like the anonymous author has a husband who wants to experience what he imagines being female is – and claims the male privilege to define the experience for everyone, not just himself. When confronted with reality, he hits back. Hard.

    Get some help for yourself before your own sexual self is in shreds. His behavior toward you is toxic, robbing you of your ownership of your female body. If you are not a lesbian, or interested in this type of sexual relationship, this is doing nothing for you but making you feel guilty for being you and desiring a husband who is male. Thanks for writing this. You should write a book. You are that good.

    • “If you are not a lesbian… this is doing nothing for you”

      Incidentally, being lesbian or bisexual does not improve this situation. Because being attracted to women does not equal being attracted to emasculated males.

    • I’m new to all of this but and still in shock but I’m experiencing same situation about name calling as Anonymous.a for me it’s heart breaking…I’m not a lesbian, i love my husband but he keeps telling me ” you have to understand and accept”…

  8. Oh dear lord. Name-calling is abusive and manipulative, period. Doesn’t matter if it’s political terms or not. Blessings to you from this queer woman.

  9. What a powerful piece of writing. Please work to figure out what is in the interest of YOUR well-being and find the strength to act on it. It may take time but you will get there and be all the better for it.

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