I have heard lots of coming out stories over the years (Would you like to share yours?) and how their families handled it.
Many transgender women ask me: “Ellie, is there any way that I can transition to female and keep my wife/girlfriend? I’m afraid to lose her if I tell her I’m trans.”
The short answer would be: Yes, but you need to work hard at it.
While every woman –and couple– is different, these are some of the worst mistakes that I’ve heard some people made, that even in some cases led to Irreconcilable differences.
1: Hey, I think I’m transgender.
Perhaps this is one of the worst ways to come out to your girlfriend or spouse. I know how you feel, though. Trust me. But it is much better that you tell them that you are struggling with your gender instead.
Your spouse will be probably more eager to support you if she is given the chance to process things from day one. Saying that you think that you ARE transgender might not be a big deal to you, but it is a big deal to her.
To her it might sound like you’ve been processing it for a while and you’ve made up your mind without her input and consent. Trust me on this. Say you struggle with your gender, but let a therapist assess your degree of gender dysphoria and decide if transition is the right thing for you.
2: I think I want to Experiment with Men
Every couple is different, some wives are ok with certain things, other wives are not. As a rule of thumb, if you are committed to a monogamous relationship, keep it monogamous! Coming out as trans doesn’t give you a free-pass to explore all of the things that the LGBT spectrum has to offer.
You are still pretty much married and you ought to respect her. Plus, as if she weren’t dealing with a lot already.
3:”You don’t support me!
Avoid saying things like these to her. Truth is: it’s easier for you to love your wife than it is for her to love you in your newly-acquired form. After all she isn’t changing. She’s probably processing, adjusting to love someone who changed the way they look, the way they talk and the way they think. Don’t expect her to be super ecstatic in the beginning. These things take time to sink in, give her room to breathe and draw her own conclusions. She will probably support you, but you definitely need to make concessions. Be ready to negotiate. Find some balance between what both of you can have, and what both of you want or need.
4: “I want our kids to call me mum.”
If your wife has been the mother all along, I would test the waters first. Every couple is different. She may not have a problem with it, or she might flip and storm out of the house.
If you’ve always been their dad, for instance, then I would suggest that you remain as the father figure. There’s nothing wrong with saying that they have a mum and a dad, and dad is a woman, just like mum. Kids don’t get all wound up over things like these the way we adults do. They assimilate things much faster and easier. If I were you, since your partner has been the mother all of these years, I would let her decide. Find some common ground. Negotiating is essential.
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