Recently, my little, liberal, lesbian heart was challenged BIG time.
I never saw it coming.
Fourteen months ago my spouse, did the bravest, scariest thing ever. He decided to transition.
When he first broke the news to me, he simply stated he thought he needed to “look into the whole transitioning thing.”
He admitted that it had become nearly impossible to continue living as a man with a woman’s body, something he had been doing for the first 40 years of his life.
I was 100% supportive.
In fact, it’s fair to say, I nearly exploded with love and support. I was so happy for him, our family and the future I imagined for us all.
I mean what is more important to the health and happiness of a family unit than the health and happiness of each of its members?
I was sure this was going to be a simple, straight-forward process that would bring him the authenticity currently missing from his life.
In turn, my life and the lives of our three boys would seamlessly transition and improve right along side him.
I was sure of it.
When I first started telling a few select friends, they looked at me with concern and said, “How do YOU feel about that?”
Not missing a beat, I gave the only ”right” answer I knew to give.
“Oh, I’m 100% supportive. She’s my PERSON, you know? That won’t change. She’s just becoming....more her ― or him, or....whatever, you know?” I said confidently.
Eight years ago this May 10th, I married Dominic. He was the most beautiful, hilarious person I had ever met.
From our first encounter, I knew he was the one.
After four years of dating, he asked me to marry him in the most romantic way ever in Key West, FL.
We have since created the coolest family imaginable.
We have three beautiful, amazing little boys, rescued an incredibly awesome dog from the shelter, bought a really “hip” minivan to accommodate us on all of our road trips and found a cute little blue house 15 minutes from the beach in Virginia.
We were an adorable “lesbian” couple with even cuter kids.
The first few months of transition were pretty simple and uneventful. Dominic did extensive research and quickly became versed in the entire legal process. He changed his legal name, changed his gender, started testosterone, notified and educated his work and came out to our friends and families.
Nothing really changed and it all happened without a single hiccup.
While many people were unfamiliar with the process and even a bit uncomfortable, we patiently walked them through it and experienced little discomfort.
Well, right about the time Dominic had completely come out and found unwavering support and acceptance, I started feeling as though I was losing my wife and my identity as a lesbian.
As naive as this sounds, I never saw it coming.
I never imagined that as his voice deepened, as his smell changed, as his hips slowly disappeared, I would feel as though the person I had married was leaving.
While he still hates mushrooms and when I turn his underwear pink by mixing reds and whites in the washing machine, a lot about him has changed.
Dominic used to be soft spoken and careful with how and when he expressed himself. Now he is self-assured and beaming with confidence.
The relationship we had created and nurtured over the last 11 years is rapidly changing.
As I get to know and love this new version of my person, I sometimes experience resentment and sadness.
Our cute, little lesbian family has ceased to exist.
Now, we are in uncharted territory without a map or compass. We are getting to know the new versions of ourselves and create a new family dynamic in a world not yet ready to fully support us.
We are beginning to navigate the world as a trans couple right when it has become the topic of the hour.
What’s more, transitioning is a process.
One does not simply decide to transition and then wakes up the next morning to find themselves in the correct gender.
It’s called transitioning for a reason. It takes a LONG time.
Dominic is currently a “tweener”. He passes for a man about 50% of the time and is experiencing puberty, much like a 14 year old boy.
We often get stares and he is sometimes misgendered.
Subconsciously, humans look at people and place them in a number of boxes: gender, race or ethnicity, educational level, socioeconomic status,etc.
Now, I must simply sit back and watch other people evaluate Dominic as they attempt to put him in a gender box. I try to do so with an open, understanding heart, but it is hard not to want to shield my boys from the stares and evaluation we all quickly become a part of.
Watching him bravely deal with each uncomfortable encounter is giving me the strength I need to get through my loss and fall in love with the man I am now married to, but it’s a process.
It’s a process I never envisioned going through, yet one I find myself in and one I am learning to embrace.
So, while I am learning to enjoy the journey and get to know this hairier, more confident testosterone-infused man, I am also letting myself grieve the loss of my wife.
When a family member transitions, so must the family.
The process is not a straight-line, with an exponential velocity toward acceptance. It looks more like a roller coaster, with a gradual upward trajectory.
Although much of what our future holds is unknown, I know one thing for sure, I am committed to ride this coaster with Dominic, until the wheels fall off!