No matter what’s going on with an individual with a problem, it isn’t only that person who’s affected. The people near and dear to them are impacted in all sorts of different ways. Routines disrupted, expectations changes, sometimes the end of a relationship or the grief that comes with the end of a life and continuing on.
As trans people we’re sometimes pretty focused on our own struggle. It can be all consuming and there really are some compelling reasons. We’re in pain, then we’re going through major life changes and sometimes we aren’t very good at looking at those around us to pay attention to their needs too.
About two and a half years ago I wrote:
Wife’s doing pretty well considering. We had a bad snowstorm Thursday into Friday, so I worked at home and dressed as Rachel. I changed to go to Temple for the evening for many reasons, but primarily for her and because I’m not out to them at this point. Although it’s a small community and the rumor mill just flies.
I got Saturday until I got home and made the mistake of showing myself in a skirt. Just too much. You could feel the bad vibes making the walls shake. So I changed, and we settled in to eat dinner and watch a cute movie (Miss Pettygrew lives for a day)
Imagine what she had gone through. Only eleven months before she learned I was trans having never suspected anything like that. She adapted to see me in female clothing although there were limits at that point. That was a year before I went full time and six months before I started transitioning.
But I also wrote:
But I’m really unclear how well she really understands what’s in my head. She called the situation bizarre, but doesn’t really understand that this feels pretty normal to me. And I really cannot tell her that this is my last stage to figure out if I can stop short of transitioning. I think that would be just too difficult for her.
It was becoming very, very clear that stopping short of transition just wasn’t going to work. I engaged in quite a bit of wishful thinking. But while she didn’t understand what was in my head all that well, I didn’t have a good perspective of how difficult acceptance is for someone who really just heard this news about a year before, whereas I had known for about fifty years.
Those close to us sometimes lash out and it can be cruel. Yet it happens because they are hurting terribly, their hopes and dreams and plans have been crushed or at least vastly rearranged.
When it came down to it for us, we decided that we’ll be content with friendship and living apart. I know of no heterosexual marriages surviving without enormous change through a partner’s transition. Perhaps it could happen if the partner’s bi, but otherwise I don’t see how.