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My son November 26, 2013

Posted by Tina Simmons in Uncategorized.
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I have a son who is an adult who lives with us. I love him to pieces, but it’s pretty hard for me and C to deal with it on a daily basis. You see, my son has what several doctors call bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, but we shorten it to schizophrenia. It’s actually a mild case (!), but it is something that is very difficult for him to manage.

In a lot of ways his illness is entangled with my gender dysphoria, but more for temporal and coping reasons. There was a two week period seven years ago that started with me finally coming out to my wife (who knew already but was shocked that I finally was accepting myself) and ending with the discovery of our son cutting himself, which, in turn, led to us discovering the intensity of his mental condition. When I came out I was convinced that our marriage was over. Instead, because of my son’s condition, it became the “not as big a deal” issue. It’s probably true that because of our son’s mental state we are still together. This is as close to a devil’s bargain as I can imagine, and if I could trade my marriage for his mental health I’d do it in a shot.

Sometimes my son and I discuss being transgender versus being schizophrenic, and the way that society treats people like us. Him they try to medicate to make him passive, but the medications destroy his will to do anything but sleep, and he ended up getting fat (BTW, more people with mental illness die because of health issues, which doesn’t surprise me). I’ve come to realize that the medications aren’t for his benefit as much as they are to keep him quiet. He still saw the visions and heard the voices, it’s just that he was too doped up to react. We both felt like lost lost our son, and he was miserable. And there were side-effects to the meds, too. To this day, our son gets muscle spasms in his eyes where he cannot keep them shut. It’s hard for him to get a good night’s sleep.

When our son decided to go off his meds, there was such a hue and cry from his doctors. We thought long and hard about this, but we decided that it wasn’t worth it. His creative juices started to flow, along with extremes of anger and happiness. Sometimes we do feel like we are trapped in hell, but it’s not like the other option was heaven. It’s a roller-coaster. The good thing is that he is not a harm to himself (cutting is long in his past, and he is not a violent person).

I’ve been asked if there was a pill that would make the gender feelings go away would I take it? My answer is no, because I’d lose a big part of who I am. My son has had to deal with this in real life, and his answer is the same.

In a lot of ways, accepting his schizophrenia has echoes of accepting my transcoder feelings (I say “echoes” because it is not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination). We love him for who he is, not trying to make him into something that he is not. He has come out very publicly – as a part of the work he does, he has been interviewed by several web sites and has publicly stated that he is a schizophrenic. I admire his honesty, his bravery and his self-acceptance. In these I’m trying to become more like him, which has led me down the path of deciding if transition is for me.

Acceptance, Transphobia, and Slippery Slopes January 29, 2008

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But Susan has said all along that she’s not like other transgender people. She feels uncomfortable even looking at some, “like I’m seeing a bunch of men in dresses.”Susan Stanton’s Lonely Transformation, St. Petersburg Times, December 31, 2007

When I first read this paragraph I found this paragraph very troubling. At first it was the “men in dresses” comment (which I blogged about previously), but the more I thought about it the more I realized that there were aspects of my own evolution that I had to grapple with. (Now I know that Susan Stanton has issued a “clarification” of this article, but in the clarification she doesn’t actually deny saying the above.) (BTW, I would put in a link to her “clarification” but I cannot find it).

We like to talk about acceptance as if it’s this all-or-nothing idea. The truth is that there are different levels or areas of acceptance. For example, there are people who only accept transsexuals as people who are going to have all the surgeries to become their true gender; anything else means you are not transsexual to them. Or those who look down on cross dressers. There are cross dressers who think that any surgery is self-mutilation. Et cetera. And it changes based on how you evolve and grow.

In my own case, the first step was to accept that I was transgendered. That took me about 40 years or so. I didn’t want to be “different”, I wanted to be “normal” just like everyone else. After all, those transgendered types are just crazy, right?

So what changed in me? In my case, it was dealing with the after-effects of this denial. I would do anything to make sure that nobody knew whenever I “failed” and dressed as a woman or expressed my internal femininity. The hiding of money to pay for this “habit” meant I had to lie. Once you start lying it’s a slippery slope, and you start finding excuses to lie about other things. After a while I didn’t really know who I was, but I didn’t like the person I was acting like. So I found the way to dig myself out of this hole. And I was lucky to have a wife who was willing to try to figure out what this meant for us.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the lying and the hiding was due to transphobia directed at myself. But the next thing was to start reaching out and talking to other transgendered people. And there are a lot of people with different life stories, experiences, wants, needs, and understanding than I have. People who will never transition, those who are pretty far in the closet, those who are out living as women. Every trans-person is a different story.

And I was repulsed by some of them. They made it harder on the rest of us – can’t they just figure it out and keep out of sight? Once I made a comment about a person who was a sissy and how I thought she made it hard for “the cause”. The person I made the comment to (a transsexual who has transitioned in her life) dressed me down. If I couldn’t be accepting of the sissy, how could I expect others to be accepting of me? It made me realize at the time that I have to re-evaluate how I view people who are transgendered and different from me.

Then the ENDA debate rolled around, and I saw us being thrown under the bus by the HRC and the House leadership, and it made it even clearer to me – if I reject any of the transgendered community I am no better than those people. I talk a lot about allowing people to express themselves, even if I disagree with it, but here I was making distinctions for my own self-interest, when in fact my own self-interest really benefits when I accept others, including sissy’s and other types of transgendered people. Who am I to decide who should be included and excluded from a transgendered bill? If my argument is that there are transgendered workers who are supporting families and they should have the right to earn a living for themselves and their families, aren’t sissy’s and others included in having that right? Or transsexuals, pre- or post- or non-operative?

Susan Stanton makes statements about how might be “too early” for the federal protections of the ENDA legislation. This just doesn’t make any sense to me. If not now, when? What is the standard that we need to meet so we deserve these protections? For the life of me I just can’t make any sense of this without the context of transphobia and acceptance. In this case, the transphobia Susan Stanton is showing for others strikes me as her dealing with her own inner transphobia. And that’s when I realized that for all the strides she’s made in transitioning, the one stride she has yet to make is to accept herself fully.

So it’s kind of ironic to me that she may have figured out herself with respect to her transgenderism (whereas I have not) but on this point I can accept her for who she is. Can she accept me for who I am? And I have a family – do I deserve to keep my job?

The One Year Anniversary, Part 2 September 24, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in coming out.
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This is a follow-up to my posting about the first anniversary of coming out to my wife (yes, coming out is a big deal to me – I think it’s very important for those of us trans-people who are married to be honest and open to our wives or other significant others in our lives). The day was very hectic, but finally in the evening we got to “celebrate” it (I don’t know if my wife would chose that term, but I couldn’t think of a better word).

I gave my wife a card the evening of the first anniversary of my coming out to her. I had spent a lot of time picking out the right card, and she loved it. I just wanted her to know that I was happy to still be with her after all that we went through.

We discussed how we felt about our marriage. It started because I told her that the day I came out I was convinced that our marriage was over, that she would throw me out. I had given her the freedom to leave because I didn’t want her to feel trapped. She has interpreted that as me wanting to get out of the marriage without making the decision. I didn’t want her to leave, but I wanted to be fair to her. Thankfully she chose to stay, and I have since withdrawn that offer.

I feel that our marriage is a little stronger, because we have opened up so much in the past year. She said that she’s learned that our marriage is not an unbreakable thing like she thought it was, but that it could fall apart for various reasons. We both feel that as long as we both want the marriage to work, and we both work at it, then it will probably survive. I think that’s a realistic common ground to be at.

But there was one magical sign for me: when we went to bed, just before I shut off the lights, I noticed that she has put the card on top of her jewelery armoire. She only does that for cards that she really loves. I was very touched by that, and I let her know how I appreciated it.


My 1-year coming out anniversary September 23, 2007

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Today is the first anniversary of coming out to my wife. I hadn’t planned on coming out then – I was asked by my wife if I still thought about dressing, and that led me to make the big decision – but I am very glad that I did the right thing and answered her question truthfully. It hasn’t been easy, but I have to admit that it’s been a lot better than I thought. It led to a year of discovery, both about myself and my wife, and it turned out that my secrecy here was a big part of what kept us from really discovering each other more fully.

I was lucky. I had accepted myself when I came out, which I think is critical for there to be any chance of us staying together. If I hadn’t accepted myself, I would probably have denied it and eventually come out later, only with yet another big lie to my name, and an even bigger blowup. I’m very lucky to have such a wonderful, understanding spouse who is trying to figure out what this is, where I am going with it, and what it means to her.

I still remember the morning – sitting on a park bench, her nervously asking me the question. I remember everything racing through my head trying to decide if I was going to stick to my plan or just be honest (I had a plan that involved me taking a year to figure things out and coming out after we empty-nested). That day (and several afterwards) I was so sure my marriage was over. But I also remember a few days later, coming home to an apology and a dress she bought for me. From such a little seed has come discussions on love, sex, orientation, honesty, lies of omission, and other things, with a range of emotions from fear and sadness to joy and happiness. Lots of tears, lots of laughter, lots of worried moments, but we found that love was a constant in our life.

I love my wife. We’ve been married over twenty-four years, and I look forward to waking up every morning next to her, and every moment we can have together. It doesn’t matter how I am dressed, how I feel inside about myself, or anything else. I feel guilt only insofar as me being who I am causes her pain, but I am so happy to be free of the secrets and lies we both were keeping from each other. Yes, I discovered that she had secrets, too, and that she kept them from me for the same reasons I kept this from her – to not cause the other pain.

One thing I would like to mention is some of the wonderful people I’ve had a chance to talk with over the past year. Karen at FemmeFever was a big help to me before and after coming out. I cannot say enough wonderful things about her – she was a godsend to me! Between her and the support I got from the FemmeFever support group I was able to avoid some mistakes I might have made in my relationship. A big thank-you to everyone there!

Another couple of people I would love to thank are Helen Boyd and Betty Crow. Helen’s books on her relationship with Betty are really must-reads, but they’re only the start. Helen and Betty also run a really fantastic on-line community where trans-people and their significant others can discuss all the issues that are important to them (and it truly is a community). It’s one of the few places that I’ve found spouses who are not only welcomed but also very active in communicating their feelings there. For many of us this is a very important dialog.

And one more thank-you to the numerous people who I have exchanged emails with or otherwise chatted with. Some have been infuriating, some have been hilarious, but most have been very patient and understanding with this clueless trans-person. And I’ve learned a lot from all your experiences, hints, tips, comments, and other things. Bless you all!

And let me take one more moment to thank all the significant others of transgendered people who decide to stay in their relationship – wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, whoever. This group is treated pretty bad by everyone. Family members and friends treat them as either stupid or enablers, out of control in their lives; often they bail on them rather. Many trans-people treat them as obstacles or road blocks to full understanding by their transgendered mate. The net result is that these SO’s are treated like dirt. And all because they decided that they wanted the relationship to continue. I think there should be a “Trans-SO Appreciation Day” every year so that we remember how these people give us emotional and other support, so that we all could just thank them for the love they show us.

I think my biggest discovery about coming out is that it is actually the beginning of a process of discovery. I had assumed that I come out and after a period of unsettled times we get to a new status quo and move on. It has led us to a process where we are continually discovering new things about each other. I think we’ve now gotten to a point where were better able to listen to one another and not just talk past each other, or at least we do more listening than we did in the past. That’s a good thing for us.

So here’s to year one of my life after acceptance and coming out! I have been incredibly lucky none the less. And here’s hoping the next year will be better.

My Road to Acceptance – Part 2 July 24, 2007

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Previously I described how I was starting to rethink my life as a result of the passing of my father and other events in my life, and how I was overall dissatisfied with myself. Addressing my transgenderism was a natural part of this change as it was something that had played itself in my mind over my life. Here’s the rest of the story.

Understanding this desire to present myself as a female went from something that I tried to ignore to an obsession. I had always wanted to know someone else who was like this, but I was always afraid of being outed and having my life as I know it change drastically. I was also afraid of being ridiculed, so I kept it very tightly to myself. I assumed that most others like me were the same, so I appreciated how hard it was to make that first contact with someone. It was getting harder for me to go it alone, however, and I wasn’t at a point where I felt I could discuss this with my wife.As a part of my recent job I was looking at web sites trying to find interesting ways that people were collaborating to work together better. Somehow I ended up looking at MySpace when I suddenly got the idea of searching for cross dressers. I found quite a few here! I started to read profile after profile, and reading the stories I found I realized that my experience wasn’t unique.

Soon I had set up an email account and set up my own fledgling page there. Next, I decided to take a chance, picked a couple of people on MySpace who looked friendly enough and asked them to become my online friends. They both added me within a day! I had made my first contacts! Soon I was adding more and more, and some people were finding me and asking to add me as well.

And the stories – I was starting to read the stories of the people I was befriending online. Cross dressers, transsexuals, and others. It was amazing to see how similar they all were to mine, despite the differences. There were a few who started as adults but the vast majority were like me and first started in childhood. Many felt the fear. Some had told their SO up front, but most were closeted, single, or divorced. Some were part-time, some were full time. What shocked me, though, was learning that there were many who went full-time but didn’t want an operation. This was a shock to me, but it also seemed to make sense.

One day I pulled out the old pair of heels I had bought a few years earlier. I put them on in my office (with my door locked, of course!) and did some work for a while. It was scary – I was at work – but it was also very exhilarating! I started to do this regularly. This was the beginning of me returning to dressing after all these years of denial.

No sooner was I starting to add people and dress that I started to get those old feelings of guilt and fear, and started to get that “urge to purge”. Maybe it’s not the right thing to do. Maybe I’m moving too fast, or it’s not what I really want to do, just some strange urge inside of me. I don’t know – it’s just a lot when you’re alone to try to sort out. And that’s when it hit me – how alone I was with all of this. I was in my mid-40’s, and I never really shared this with anyone, never really had a long-term friendship with someone who was like me.

Somehow I decided that I should fight the purge. I wasn’t going to throw anything out this time. Instead, I decided to focus on putting together a full outfit. I didn’t know where to start, so I decided that shoes were a good thing – I could guess my size easily, and I knew that I could find my size at Frederick’s of Hollywood. So I ordered a pair of four-inch heels. When they came in the mail I was nervous and excited. (BTW, I eventually did put together a full outfit, but it took me several months, mostly because of life issues and concerns about sizing – unlike all my previous attempts I wanted things that fit right and looked good on me!)

Thanks to my MySpace friends I was finding new web sites and books. I had read My Husband Wears My Clothes years ago, and I decided to get a new copy and read it again. One friend mentioned a newer book – My Husband Betty, written by a wife of a cross dresser, so I ordered it as well. I like both books but I really connected with My Husband Betty – perhaps because I had more in common with the author, generation-wise.

One day I noticed one of my new friends mentioned a makeover place in her profile – FemmeFever. I had always wanted a makeover but I was too scared, and I didn’t know how to pay for it. But I had saved a couple of hundred dollars over the past year and decided I could afford it. It still took me a few weeks to get up the nerve to call Karen there. I finally did, and she was so nice. She immediately added me to her mailing list, and she said I could call her anytime if I had any questions or concerns. She seemed to understand how to talk to me (she’s done makeover for over 3000 people so she has a good understanding of our needs and concerns). I was worried about my confidentiality and how it would work out, but I decided it was worth the risk. And I would get pictures, and learn how to do makeup, and everything! (Of course, now I realize that they have a stake in our confidentiality, too – if they were blowing the cover on all their clients, eventually they’d have no clients left!)

I was about to take a big step – getting someone to make look as close to a woman as I could possibly be! But I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with this. Was I just a cross dresser, or was I really a transsexual who was denying her nature? Then I discovered the term “transgendered”. The site I saw it at used it as a cover-all for all types of related behaviors, including cross dressing and transsexualism. I don’t know why, but it clicked with me. I realized at that point, for the very first time, that I had found a middle ground. For the first time, I could say:

I am a transgendered person.

This was the moment that I accepted myself. It still sends chills down my spine thinking about it. But it wasn’t enough for me to just say it quietly. I had to do something more dramatic (there are those who think I am a drama queen – and they’d be right to think that). I took my new heels from my office, went to my car, and drove to a quiet spot in a nearby park. I put on the heels and got out of my car. No one was around.

For the first time in my life I didn’t hesitate. I had wanted to do this for all my life. I cleared my throat and spoke loudly:

“I am a transgendered person. I am both male and female.”

I just stood there for a moment, in my heels and male clothes. No one was around. Nothing moving. I said it again, louder. Then silence.

I smiled. I couldn’t explain the feeling of happiness that was going through my body. I had finally taken one of the biggest steps in my life – I had accepted myself as transgendered. I didn’t know where it would lead me, or what it meant to my future, or for my family or personal life, or my job. All I knew was that I was finally being totally honest to myself for the very first time in my life.

Then I felt the fear come over me. What about my wife? What about my kids? I needed time to think. But I didn’t want this to stop. I was finally acknowledging a truth how I had felt for my whole life!

I got back into the car, went back to work, and hid my heels. I called Karen at FemmeFever and scheduled an appointment in a couple of weeks for a makeover. I was afraid, but I felt I needed to keep moving forward. I was both excited and scared. And a little sad, because I had to take off the heels and go back to hiding.

As I drove home, I started to think about how I was going to tell my wife. How would I come out to her? I needed to start planning how, exactly, I was going to prepare her. I knew from my discovery years ago that if I said I was like this our marriage was over. Could I accept that risk? Frankly, I was to the point that I could.

We only had one more year with our son at home. Perhaps I could deal with this after all.

Then I made one more decision – the next day, I started to shave the tops of my feet and the backs of my hands. I wanted something that said I was different, but not something so noticable that it would telegraph my changes to the world. She was so wrapped up in our son that I was sure she wouldn’t realize it for a while. And then I switched from an electric razor to a normal razor so I could get a closer shave. A couple of fateful decisions, but I was oblivious to the fact that my wife would notice more than I realized.

Anyway, I was now in planning mode for what I was calling my one year plan for coming out. Which ended up turning into my 3-week plan, because I ended up coming out a lot sooner than I had planned (several days after my makeover). But I was doing research, and I had made so much progress in accepting myself by then that I was able to take that risk – marriage, friendship, everything.

And I had finally accepted myself as transgendered. And it was liberating!

(Note: Edit: Fixed the title to be consistent with Part 1)

My Road to Acceptance – Part 1 July 18, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in Uncategorized.
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This is the start of my description of how I came to finally accepting myself after 40+ years of trying to figure this stuff out. I’ve broken it up into a few blog entries because it just got too long and there was a lot I wanted to say. This part deals with me getting to the point where I needed to reconsider my life from the trans point of view.

In a previous entry I wrote about how I went through a long period of denial. It wasn’t easy, and I had lapses, but you could argue that for the most part I was “successful” in evading my trans nature for the better part of a decade. So how come I decided to accept myself and come out?

The story starts on a cold, snowy Friday in upstate New York. It was my father’s funeral mass, and I was given an opportunity to speak about him. I spoke of my feelings of loss, of the good times and sad times and of love and memories. I alternately had people laughing and in tears. So did other speakers. Then we buried him and did the things people do afterwards.

We had a long drive home the next day, and I was now deeply depressed. I had a sense of both loss and relief (relief over the end of his struggle with Alzheimer’s – a disease he was so deathly afraid of because of what it did to his mother). Years before he started to phase out of reality my father had had a falling out with my brother, who he felt never really grew up or was all that responsible. I was the son that made him proud and happy. We hadn’t always been close, but in the years between the death of my stepmother and his sliding into Alzheimer’s we became close. He was one of my best friends in the world. I really missed being able to talk to him.

I was living the kind of life he dreamed for his children, especially for one of his sons – happily married, a good career, and grandchildren, including a son to carry on the family name. I was glad that I made him happy, but I also felt like a bit of a fraud. If you looked deeper you would find the flaws. How our daughter just couldn’t get out of the house fast enough when college came around, and the unease that our son was starting to show (that would ultimately lead to near-suicidal bouts with bipolar disorder). And how my wife and I were bickering all the time about everything.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, my sadness started to affect a lot of things. I was already somewhat unhappy with my job, and my performance wasn’t up to par. I was being asked to move to another department (my manager at the time couldn’t tell me face to face he was unhappy with me – not his style). I started on a new project in a new group that was not the most thrilling for me, but I knew that I had to move on at this point.

During this time the relationship between my son and my wife was also going downhill (I didn’t realize it at the time but my own relationship with him was going downhill, too). I thought neither was listening to the other. And I was building up resentment to both of them because they were always fighting. Our son spent the following summer away at a college program, and while that gave my wife and I a break it wasn’t the best thing for him. We discovered later he nearly committed suicide there, stopped only by a chance phone call by a friend.

And my wife. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with us in the future. I could tell she was unhappy with things. I was unhappy with things. Part of my Catholic upbringing was that I really didn’t want to divorce. My parents hadn’t, but my mother’s parents had, and she went through hell because of it. My wife’s parents had also divorced, and I was afraid that it would be a lot easier for her to leave.

And my weight was going up. I was trying to diet but not making progress. And that meant my health was on the decline. It was getting harder for me to breathe some nights.

I have this facade of myself as some sort of boy scout – trying to always do the right thing. Sometimes I almost convince myself that this is the truth. But then I’ll think about how I really am – I can be very obnoxious, loud, nasty – and I didn’t feel all that honest.

And I had that strange urge to dress in women’s clothing. When I used to dress I would feel such an amazing feeling of happiness, only to have it followed by fear than depression. This wasn’t normal! I wanted to be normal! My only real knowledge of the trans world at that point was transsexuals like Renee Richards, “shemale” pornography (which I despise), and how cross dressers were portrayed in the media (prostitutes or buffoons). I just couldn’t understand why I felt this, and I would think about how much time, effort, and money I put into buying clothes, dressing, throwing them away, etc. When my wife caught me years ago it nearly cost me my marriage, so I was trying to not do it. But the thoughts never went away, and my denial was less than perfect. I was failing at that, too.

Sometimes I would just sit in my office and just think about this. I was so depressed. There were moments where I wanted to just get the hell away from it all, just get in the car and drive until I was so far away nobody would bother me and I could figure out what to do. Anything to get away from the hell that was in my mind!

I was good at putting things off – I’ve done it most of my life. But it was getting harder. Reluctantly, I started to realize it was time to deal with it. I had to either figure out how to make it go away for good or else figure out how to make it a part of my life. And the latter idea scared me, because I knew it could cost me my family.

The Luckiest July 10, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in love.
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“I don’t get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here”
– Ben Folds, The Luckiest

So about a week and a half ago I bought a very nice skirt for myself at Ann Taylor Loft (where both I and my wife love to shop). It was a skirt I’d wanted for months, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend list price. Patience paid off – I found it in the sale rack for $15 US! Because our life was filled with a lot of events, though, it took me a few days to let my wife know about it.

The other night we’re lying in bed and she turns to me. “That skirt you bought for yourself?” she started.

“Yes,” I said.

“It’s very pretty.”

I was in a combination of shock and happiness. I don’t know why I’m shocked by these comments now – it’s not the first time she’s said that – except that after all those years of lying and hiding and living in fear I am so surprised when my love lets me know she likes a purchase of female clothing I buy for myself. It’s such a small and stupid thing, but her approval means the world to me!

So anyway, these conversations don’t just end there. I never know what to expect except that I will be surprised by how much love she will show me, and this night was no exception. She used to tell me that my being trans doomed us to a life where one or the other of us would always be sad, but tonight she said that she thinks she’s getting over the sad feeling. Of course, given that I’m not out to our kids, and they’re home the times that I am, I haven’t had an opportunity to fully dress and go around the house like I’d like, so there is the likelihood that not seeing it for a while has put enough distance, and that the next time I do dress it will evoke that sadness, but perhaps not. (BTW, she feels bad that I don’t get those opportunities these days.)

The next thing she said that she was shocked at first to learn that even when I’m dressed or feeling feminine that I love her very much. It bothered her because it caused her to think about her sexuality when she perceives me as female. Now she realizes that it was silly for her to think that – and that she would be even more bothered if I wanted someone else (or a man). What was amazing is that she accepts me for how I feel inside, not necessarily how she sees me outside.

But then the most amazing statement – she said that she really wants to love me even when I am dressed, and she’s going to work towards that, but she’s not sure when or if she ever will get there. She is concerned about her sexuality, both how she feels about it and her perception of it. If I present as female and she loves me does that make her bisexual?

I think this is such a big question for many wives who try to accept their transgendered spouses, and how they can deal with their spouse and both the internal and external perceptions of their own sexuality can be a deal-breaker for a lot of marriages. There are now books that touch on this (it’s a big portion of Helen Boyd‘s book She’s Not the Man I Married, and it’s also discussed in some of the essays in Virginia Erhardt‘s book Head Over Heels).

What blew me away was that she’s wants to make me so happy she’s willing to try and reach out to me in my feminine state. It means she’s trying to focus on the core of me that’s unchanging and getting beyond the physical. She understands that I’m middle path and that it could mean that someday I could decide that I’ll transition to a full-time female. In fact, I’m sure that her fear is that I’m holding back deciding to transition because of how she would feel and react. The truth is that I’m not willing to commit either way on transition for more than just her feelings (although her feelings do factor into it a good deal). But that’s another discussion.

(One thing I wonder is that women in our society are raised to be more giving towards their husbands. This was a recurring theme in Head Over Heels, and I’m sure it plays a part in how she’s dealing with this. But her parents divorced when she was young, and we’re not at a place where if we were to get a divorce she is not worried about the kids any more. Of course, economics and inertia also do come into play here, but I don’t think that would be enough to keep her here. I am convinced if she really was unhappy with me it would be over.)

She also asked me if I wanted to come out to our kids or to my siblings. I told her that I think the timing’s wrong for the kids and that I don’t really care about coming out to my siblings either way. I would love to come out to the kids because I’m sick of the hiding and the secrets. In fact, I told my wife that I feel bad that the situation makes her have to join me in keeping the secret. She understands this.

“Next door there’s an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way to tell you that I know we belong”
– Ben Folds, The Luckiest

I think what’s really helped my situation with my wife is partly that I’ve been patient and listened to how she was reacting to my revelation. She did have 12 years of thinking about it (when she had discovered me before I went into denial) so it wasn’t a total shock, but that she has accepted it as much as she has is really a shock to her. That she’d even stay with me through a transition is even more surprising. I haven’t really pushed things like going out as much as I’d like to, or even as hard as I was early on (but by pushing I did get push-back which helped me to understand better how she feels).

I can’t take all the credit – coming out a couple of weeks before your youngest child shows you he’s cutting himself and had planned his suicide probably did as much for the acceptance and communication than any action I did take. But I have made it clear to my wife that she is the most important person in my life, and that I’m going to do things to try to make her life better and happier, and that I love her so much more than she realized.

If there is any lesson here, it’s that how you treat your wife – with respect, dignity, patience, and love – helps, but that you can’t discount timing or luck, either.

“I am, I am, I am the luckiest.”
– Ben Folds, The Luckiest

Life in Denial June 25, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

As I’ve recounted before I spent over 10 years living in denial of my transgenderism. This was after I was discovered by my wife, and in my poor reaction to this I decided that I would just walk away from my cross dressing. Of course, if you have read any of my writings you already know how this worked out. I just want to document how I dealt with denial and why I now feel it was very naive of me to assume that this was ever going to work.

First off – how am I defining “denial”? It’s not as if I didn’t think about my transgenderism, or even that I didn’t have “lapses” and do some dressing. For the most part, it had to do with me trying to not dress, and for me to publicly not give any hints as to the fact that I had at one time dressed. It was the only time in my life where I can say I went years without dressing.

Anyway, after my discovery by my wife I told her I believe it is a choice and that I can choose to stop, so I put a renewed effort into living the male role full-time. What I ended pu doing was trying to act somewhat macho, to the point of being very curt with people and just focusing on “solving the problem” or “getting over it.” Cry at a movie? Men don’t do that. Kids acting up? Punish them, let them know who’s boss! Wife complaining too much? Women, sheesh! And no shopping with my wife – shopping put me near temptation, and no opportunity, not desire, right? I would complain very loudly if I was being dragged out shopping, in fact. Oh, and insensitive – that was my middle name. Focusing on things that I needed or wanted.

And this I think had extra negative results on our son, who is bipolar. I would practice “tough love” which is about the worst thing you could do for a child with this issue. And I would try to help him to just “tough it out” and tell him such loving things as “don’t whine so much” and other things.

What an asshole I was.

Now, sometimes, a show would come on that had a crossdresser or a transsexual character. I would dread those moments, as inevitably my wife would ask me if I still wanted to dress. “No!” I would scream in a huff. “How dare you even ask me that? I said I was over it, and I’m over it!” And she would apologize and pull away just a little bit more. Perhaps if I said it enough, I would believe it, maybe.

And I put on over fifty pounds during that time. I also had a major recurrence of asthma from my youth (I couldn’t breath at one point, and needed emergency treatment). I got high blood pressure for the first time in my life. And I had a major asthma attack. So I went on a ton of medication to try to manage my health – so much that I felt you could choke a horse with it. So not only am I being a jerk to everyone, but I’m killing myself at the same time.

I did have two major lapses. We moved to the New York City area, and I was living alone for several months. I discovered Lee’s Mardi Gras Botique in the city and visited there once. I met Lee Brewster – an amazing person. It was heaven, trying on clothes (shocked the sales clerk when he saw how well I could navigate a pair of 5 inch heels!). That place was heaven! When I heard she had died I was so very sad. I did visit the area a couple of years ago, but the area has yuppie-fied and there is no trace anywhere.

The second time was during a several month period when I was traveling to another city for work once a week. I bought a pair of heels, pantyhose, and a nightgown (what a combination) that I wore a couple of times in the hotel room. I only did this on one trip, but I still have all that stuff. I decided to file it away in my office and if I ever had the urge again get it out. What was good was that was the first time I didn’t purge my stuff. This was a year or two before I finally, irrevocably accepted that I was transgendered.

I was always thinking about it over the years I was in denial. I drive at least a half hour each way to and from work every day. I would often think about dressing, or transgendered people. I really had so few contacts with transgendered people that I just couldn’t understand what it was all about. I would mix sexuality and gender identity all up in this one big ball, and even though I said the words “I’m not gay” I was so terrified that I was (terrified because I did love my wife, and if I somehow was gay after all I would end up inflicting a lot of pain on her – thankfully I think I’m now at a point where I know my own sexuality, but that came as part of acceptance and understanding).

As a software developer I would go to conferences, and sometimes I would run into this one person I knew who transitioned. You really couldn’t tell she was transgendered. I acted very cool to her, because I was terrified that I might fall out of denial, and I wasn’t ready for that.

Towards the end was when I had to evict my father from his house because he had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t function living alone any more. Seeing him become a shell of his former self was hard, and his death was a big moment in my life. I realized that this could be my future as well. I learned through his ordeal that a side-effect of Alzheimer’s disease is that libido goes up, and I started to worry. If I come down with it, will I start running around a nursing home in a dress and being another sex-crazed octogenarian? That really unnerved me.

I also saw the movie Transamerica with my wife. I was very fascinated by this movie for obvious reasons, After watching it We had the usual “do you still want to dress” conversation, but this time I wasn’t the jerk I normally was. I was still denying it, but at the same time I was running things through my head and starting to really confront my transgenderism, and I was trying to be more understanding to my wife. So the denial was weaker. Eventually, I came to accept that it wasn’t going away, that it was a big part of me, and I needed to understand how to incorporate it into my life so I could manage it. I’m now well into that process with my wife, and I feel as if we got a “do-over” on a lot of things.

In my case a life in denial of transgenderism was a life of fear, deceit, and anger. I was so unhappy and miserable that I often made other people’s lives horrible at times. I’m still trying to undo the junk that I’ve done to myself and to others. I still feel that fear every day, and the lies are very tough to overcome.

And it didn’t work.