My husband has felt like he was living in the wrong body for as long as he can remember. As a little boy, he always wanted to be a girl. He wanted to wear girls' clothes and have long hair that could be styled in curls and pinned back with pink plastic barrettes. He wanted to roll strawberry lip gloss onto his lips. He wanted to be pretty.
My husband mustered up the courage to share this innermost part of himself with me back in 1984, one year after we got married. As a young bride, I was confused and did not understand what was wrong with him. I was angry and hurt that he would have such desires. I hoped he wasn't a sexual deviant. I wondered why being married to me and starting a new life wasn't enough for him. I simply did not know about a condition known as gender dysphoria. My husband was at odds with his birth gender. At the time, we had no resources. There was no Internet to turn to. His secret had become ours, and we continued wrestling with his unexplained desire to dress as a woman, a need so great it was unstoppable.
Our marriage became one that had two stories. One story was the story of success shown to the outside world -- the story that unfolds with two beautiful sons, accomplished careers, vacations, cars and the house on the hill. And then there is the other story, a private tale of confusion, hurt feelings and resentment. There are chapters of our marriage when my husband's desire to cross-dress was too great not to act out on, followed by dark periods of depression for having to live a life that felt wrong; times when I was threatened as a wife by the woman inside of my husband; moments when I was angry at this inner woman who dwelled within him, and lashed out at him because I didn't know how to get to her. We had a story that was kept private, unable to share with the outside world.
After 25 years of marriage, our two stories had become blurry and it had become emotionally draining to keep the narratives defined. Our worlds were changing, and more information regarding gender dysphoria and transgender individuals had become available. I was able to understand better that there was nothing wrong with me, or with us. The only thing wrong was that my husband strongly felt he was a woman, and that fact was slowly destroying his spirit. The need to be a woman had become too great.
Together, we decided to rewrite our marriage and to live one true story. We agreed that my husband would transition fully into a woman. In the last three years, the husband that I married revolved into a woman with the use of hormones and surgery. It has been a whirlwind of couples therapy, legal papers and name changes. There have been many conversations with friends, coworkers and family members, both positive and negative. It has been a time of many changes.
My life as the wife of a transgender person is a roller coaster. There are many ups and downs, yet not once have I felt like I want to get off this ride. I am still in love with the person I married back in 1984. A person who today is a she. She has transitioned successfully into a woman both physically and emotionally. Most importantly, she is who she is today, and because of that, I have witnessed true joy in the person I've grown a life with -- a person whose blue eyes shine because she feels right in her own skin.
Our story is still being written, and is far from over. This essay is just a blurb to the deeper story. There are more words to come. Words of how I feel as the wife. Words of love and acceptance as well as words of complicated grief while I stood by the person I married and wanted more than anything to have this story finish with a happy ending. Words I will write that will continue to tell our story, our one true story, for the world to see.