There are not a lot of stories of successful transsexual / non-trans partner marriages. One recurring theme that I see is the need for pacing. Unfortunately too many trans-partners once they have their epiphany rush like a runaway freight train towards transition. Like most runaway freight trains these relationships typically end in destruction.
I’m not going to say that there is any one right way to transition. We all know that those paths are as unique as the individuals who tread them. However, if a couple is going to have any possibility of remaining intact each partner must be willing to recognize that compromises will be an integral part of the process.
Every time I hear a story about a trans-partner who has moved forward without being open and honest before taking those first steps the handwriting is on the wall. While the transition itself is certainly a huge issue, I venture to say that the bond of trust between two individuals is even more fundamental. When that trust is breached there really is not much more that you can do.
One thing that I learned while transitioning with my wife is that we had to take it one day at a time. In order to do that we had to acknowledge that the future was uncertain. We would make the steps that we felt we were able to handle together and then sort of reassess where we were in a relationship. If things were okay we would discuss further steps and so on. At this juncture we decided that we would keep any information regarding my transition to ourselves. Our thinking was considering that this was going to be a very difficult and emotional journey for us both. To bring in children and friends would just muddy the waters and lead to people breaking off on different sides. Now remember, our children are grown. This would be an entirely different scenario if there were young children still in the home.
The whole issue of pacing is one that really calls upon our commitment to one another. For the trans-person it’s always much too slow and for the non-trans person it’s always much too fast. That being said my transition so far has taken seven years. It took a full five years for Jeanne and I to conclude that we might have a chance of making it. It was at that point that I went full time. This is also when we began telling our children what was going on. The two boys took it very easily which was strange because I thought it would be just the opposite. Our daughter had the most difficult time and there again I thought she would have the easiest time. There really is no way to know how people will react.
For the past year our children and our grandchildren have been totally at ease with Grandma Dee. I transitioned at work in the year that I went full time (2005) so that was two years ago. However I didn’t tell them either until it was “launch commit.”
Fast-forward to today. We have several close friends male and female who have either not been in the area or whom we have avoided for the last two years. Quite frankly we’ve never really believed that there would be any chance that we would be able to transition with them in place. Well, three weeks ago we broke news to them. We explained what was going on and the things that led up to it and the fact that I had been full time already and successful for over two years. Their reaction? At first they needed some time to digest the information, but within a week each and every one of them had written supportive letters and committed to our friendship regardless of my transition. In the time since we have had them over for dinner at the house where we talked until the wee hours of the morning… since then we have gone out with them to dinner and we are planning many autumn activities as we enter the holiday season.
Now, right up front I have to say if it were not for Jeanne and her level head this never would’ve been the outcome. Likewise, if I was not willing to put on the brakes and work with Jeanne while at the same time really listening to her… my world would be a vastly different place today.
So I offer all of this to all of you not as a prescription for success but as one anecdotal story of one couple, at one time, in one place, who managed to make it work. Others may approach it slightly differently, but whatever a couple tries to do throughout the process there must be love, communication, compromise, and a willingness not to move forward until everyone is on the same page.
Suffice to say having a trans-partner does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship. Consider this a post dedicated to hope.