Hope and Happiness After Transition? You Bet.
She woke me up yesterday while getting dressed for work. She was wearing the same dress she wore when we met the Prime Minister, and I’d argue it looks even better on her just over a year later. I watched from the bed, smiling, my hair rivaling Medusa’s on PMS week and my face puffy from sleep.
“How do I look?” my wife asked, twirling. She had thrown on a white jean jacket to compliment the dress. Her hair was up, with soft tendrils running down her cheeks. My breath caught in my chest. Beautiful. She looked beautiful.
Before she left, Zoe said something sassy – I can’t quite remember what, because I was still half asleep – and when I frowned at her dramatically, she stuffed a piece of dark chocolate in my mouth, kissed me, and headed to work.
I love this woman. I love everything about her. She’s smart, funny, supportive and can rock a dress in a way that fills me with both envy and pride. She’s the person I go to on my worst days because I know she’ll hug me like no one else. She’s the one who still thinks I’m pretty with my morning Medusa hair and serious lack of mascara (you will never find this look on my Instagram account). She knows nothing makes me happier than chocolate – even before I’m even out of bed.
To sum it up: She’s perfect for me. And I don’t understand why people would question that.
We’ve been together for 24 years. For the first 22, I had no idea she was a woman. When Zoe finally worked up the courage to tell me, she was prepared to lose everything, including me. “This is your free pass,” she said in all sincerity. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to stay.”
I had my walking papers. I could head out the door without questions or animosity. But I didn’t want to.
There were some things I had to work through over the first few months, centering mostly around accepting the idea that I didn’t marry a man (surprise!), that our children don’t have a father (“It’s fine, having two moms is cool these days,” they’ve said to us a few times now), and that our family would no longer blend into suburbia as easily as it had before (“This is my wife” has elicited a few raised eyebrows so far). But staying felt right, and leaving felt wrong. Not out of some sense of obligation, but out of love.
Because when I think of my ideal partner, I think of her. So, I stayed, and we walked through the initial turmoil, the intense gender dysphoria she had early on, my overwhelming fears about what life had in store for us, the chronic stress of waiting for the transition services she desperately needed, the panic-inducing moments when she came out to key people – and then the world.
We held on. And one day, the sun came out again, and I realized holding on was the best thing I had ever done.
The other day, I was on Twitter and saw this tweet from Dr. Ray Blanchard, a psychiatrist who studied sex for a lifetime, but has some very outdated and harmful views on the LGBTQ community he has no issues sharing.
Replying to it got me blocked within seconds (which is why I can’t link to it; feel free to go find it yourself). But I had to say something anyway because it gave me a serious case of the angries.
First of all, morning Medusa hair aside, I would not consider myself “unattractive.”
But far more importantly, this type of comment – from someone with scholarly clout, no less – serves no purpose. It’s not scientific. It’s not helpful. It’s just mean.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding trans people – centering heavily on trans women – that they are un-dateable and unlovable. Sadly, this plays out in the lives of many people I know who are overlooked on the dating scene altogether or cast aside the minute they tell a prospective partner they’re trans. There are some good articles (like this one) from trans writers about how challenging (and dangerous) it is out there for them.
All I could think about when I read that tweet was how someone feeling lonely and hopeless might react to it. I felt sick just thinking about it. So, I sent this out into the twitterverse to hopefully counter some of that negativity.
I meant all 140 characters. And so much more.
What I want people to understand – truly understand, because I think this is the small way I can help push society forward – is that I didn’t stay with Zoe out of some sense of obligation. I’m not with her today simply because we’re married. People get divorced all the time, and for arguably much simpler reasons than a partner coming out.
I’m here because I want to be. Because she’s a great catch. A solid 10. And if I met her today, I would ask her out in a heartbeat and sweat bullets waiting for her to say yes. I’m lucky to have a woman like her love me so much (and feed me chocolate.) The fact that she's trans isn't even on my radar most days. It's a non-issue.
Trans folk who might be struggling today, maybe you don’t need me to tell you this, but I’m going to say it anyway: You are entirely loveable. You are so beautiful. You are resilient and wise and have much to give to the world. And I’m sorry if anyone has ever told you you’re not those things. They’re lying, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, I’m sure.
I’m going to keep sharing our love story. I’m going to post more disgustingly adorable couple selfies on social media and I’m going to talk about how amazing my partner is. I’m going to share pictures of our vow renewal ceremony next month because any ceremony with two bridezillas is bound to be spectacular. I’m going to keep shouting from the rooftops how lucky I am to have Zoe in my life.
And hopefully, people who have these outdated ideas about what loving a trans person looks like will start to learn new ideas through our story and others like ours. Attitudes need to change. Because hope, love and joy should all be part of someone's transition.
Let's get there, okay? One story at a time.
Until then, I'm off to find Zoe's chocolate stash.