Meet Kris and Bridge, just a couple of newlyweds, giddy with love, who will celebrate their one-year anniversary this month. Although no two love stories are the same, Kris and Bridge's story is exceptionally special and exceptionally sweet. And what they have been through in the first year of marriage is exceptionally intense.
Kris was in a committed relationship and had a daughter with his partner when he realized that he was transgender. After reaching out to others in the trans community and a lot of "soul searching," he began transitioning from female to male in early 2013. By that summer, Kris and his partner had broken up.
Although Kris says that the breakup was not due to his transition, the breakup turned his world upside down, and he began to question everything, eventually returning to living as female.
Looking back, Kris said that he knows now that he stopped transitioning because he was terrified of never finding love as a transgender person. But only a couple months later, Kris would start a journey that would prove how very wrong he was.
After his breakup Kris joined OKCupid and met a beautiful girl named Bridge. Their love story began the first night they met, when they spent the entire night talking and talking and talking. Kris and Bridge couldn't get enough of each other and moved in with each other after only two weeks. Bridge says of that time, "He invited me in, and I stayed forever." Early on in their relationship, Kris told Bridge that he had tried to transition. Bridge was accepting, saying, "I didn't know then that the story of his transition would continue with me in his life, but I did know that the idea did not frighten or shake me." Kris was in love and describes the relationship thus:
[W]e truly matched and complemented each other in ways I had never been with any other partner. We rushed -- I mean we really rushed -- our relationship: We got legally married after three months. Yes, it was crazy and irresponsible and the best decision I have ever made. We were, at the time, two lesbians delighted to be able to get married.
But soon Kris would start lying awake at night wondering, "What have I done?" Although Bridge knew that Kris had tried to transition before, they were now happily married as two women, and Kris tried to hide his inner turmoil from his wife. Kris was worried about how he would be perceived if he came out again and worried that Bridge would think he had led her on. He worried that people would take his example to argue that trans people choose these lives whimsically, and he cried all the time.
Finally, just two months after their wedding, Kris told Bridge, "I think I might be genderqueer." Slowly Kris opened up to Bridge more and more. To Kris' relief, they became closer and closer. A weight had begun to lift, and Kris could feel himself getting closer and closer to who he was born to be. Eventually Kris told his wife that he wanted to transition, and she did not just stand by his side but was proud to be his partner in his journey. Bridge gave Kris a masculine haircut and began exploring the dyke-butch side of herself. Bridge says:
It was all very freeing and mushy and gooey and lovely and sexual for both of us to open up and play with our presentations. We made love to each other like we were falling in love with ourselves. I feel like we found a lot of answers in our bed. I believe sex is a beautiful way to try out/try on gender and sexuality roles, and then take them out into the world as confidence. We talked about our processes endlessly, but it was a beautiful form of expression to then take our ideas to the bedroom in a very sex-positive way.
Bridge began referring to Kris as "him" rather than "her" easily. Still, calling Kris "husband" was difficult for Bridge, because it challenged her sexual identity as a lesbian. Eventually she says she realized she was a queer. "I was attracted to many different people, and I was definitely attracted to my husband in all his transition glory."
On Dec. 29, 2014, Kris had top surgery with Bridge by his side. After the surgery Bridge said, "There you are! You look so much more like yourself." Of Bridge's love and support during his surgery and recovery, Kris says:
She cared for me like no one I've ever known, with love and compassion. My wife has become my greatest ally, a true partner. I have given her all that I am, and she has done the same. We have built the life that we both deserve, and it is the most beautiful thing that I have ever known. ... This love is amazing, and I am lucky to have found it, but it wasn't until I began to truly live as the person I was meant to be that our love began to become what it is today. Hiding myself only put a barrier between us in which neither of us could get as close as we are now.
Bridge has unwavering support for Kris and is an important part of his journey:
If anyone has disbelief about the authenticity of a FTM transition, I am here to tell you from experience I knew my husband was the real deal. I watched and comforted him though his breakdowns because he had to live with breasts. ... The day that Kris found out that he was going to have top surgery ... [h]e truly was the happiest I had seen him in a while. I feel we will always be going through it together. I am always plugged in and a part of all ups and downs surrounding the stages of his transition. I use words like "we" and "us" when I describe to others what he is going through. I just committed. Even before we got married, my heart just committed to the idea of us together. Sometimes people ask me how I am able to handle all of it. I have never seen Kris' transition as something I had to "handle." I have only seen it as I was doing what he had been doing all along for me: helping me become a better person. We are just a little more literal than the average couple becoming a better person inside their marriage.
Kris and Bridge are raising Kris' daughter together with his ex and her husband. They are currently in the process of trying to have a child of their own together.
Photographer Sarah Perry offered to document Kris' transition, the scars, the testosterone shots, the smiles and the tears, because they wanted to tell the story of their relationship.
[T]hough transitioning is the hardest thing I have ever been through, it made me a better person. In the end it made my life so very much better. We as transgender people face so many obstacles -- people that hate us simply for who we are, a healthcare system that is not on our side, families that often disown and berate us -- but we can make our own way. We can stand up and say, "I can have what I want and need while being who I truly am."
Kris and Bridge want everyone to know:
We are as different as we are similar to any other family. Dan Savage was right: It does get better. Find help, find someone, because it's out there, I promise.
All photos by Sarah Perry Photography
Kris and Bridge dedicate this story to Leelah Alcorn and the countless other LGBTQ youth in our world who suffer solely on the basis of who they are.