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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 Thankfully she chose to stay, and I have since withdrawn that offer.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

Posted by Tina Simmons in coming out.
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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.