In this article Emma addresses the significant others of crossdressers.
If you’re stumbling across this article because you are feeling lost, lonely, confused, frightened, or frantic due to the discovery of your husband or significant other’s hidden crossdressing needs I would love for you to pause and take this article in. I will try to help you dissect this situation in a loving, if not logical, manner.
I spent nearly the entire scope of all of my relationships as a heavily closeted crossdresser, and when I finally came out to my most recent significant other she could not understand why I didn’t divulge at the very beginning of the relationship. She felt as though she could have made an entirely different set of life decisions that did not anchor her to a person that was harboring such a HUGE secret. A whirlwind of questions tore through her head: “Is my husband gay? Does he want to become a woman? What will this do to our family? Will I find another man if we split? Will he lose his job if he wants to be more open?” She had absolutely no clues beforehand, and one catastrophic hypothetical scenario evolved into another, she reacted as though someone had set her dream house ablaze. For a very long while I felt as though I had done it…
I came out of the closet to my wife in my mid twenties. I know that some of you may be getting this information much later in life. I guess I am a little different, I knew in the back of my mind that I was going to eventually transition and I had to let that cat out of the bag way sooner than later. Now you’re probably asking yourself: “Hey, whoa! That’s bad! Why would you even get married and start a family?!” Well, I won’t justify my case, but I will help you step through the labyrinth that is the mind of a trans* person in the closet by presenting a few of the things that I was thinking that pushed me well into marriage and family life, and why it was that those ways of thinking failed.
Love will keep me happy and satisfied.
Why it failed: It is a fact that love alone is NOT enough. Anyone who has been through the relationship ringer understands that they have ups and downs, and certain contingencies must be met for things to work in difficult times. Some of the cornerstones of a successful relationship are: You must accept each other for the people that you really are, you must attempt to remain attractive in the eyes of your significant other, and you have to live honestly with each other. These foundations of a relationship are compromised by harboring such a pervasive secret.
I am supposed to start a family, get a job, pay taxes, and then die.
Why it failed: This was a simple belief that was passed on to me by my parents. I knew I wanted a child of my own blood, but I also understood that I was in no way the best candidate for fatherhood. I would dismiss my doubts by asking myself something like, “Well, trans people in the past must have been successful at suppressing their feelings and leading a ‘normal’ life, adhering to societal expectations, right?” It turns out that that was not always the case, and trans people aren’t the standard bearers of societal expectation.
If I say anything, this will all fall apart.
Why it failed: I eventually began to feel more selfish for keeping my secrets than being honest about whom I really was. After coming out things did actually fall apart. Everything falling apart is likely the perpetuating worry behind continuation of the misinformation, sneaking around, and covering up. I know it was the reason for all of mine. I wanted the best of both worlds, and it turns out that you can’t always have it all (duh!). After coming out we concluded that I was not the person she married. You must take a very long while to reflect upon the person you married and the person who confronts you now. Has it been a while since you found out? Has he changed? Is he a she? Is he just a he that sometimes dresses like a she to blow off steam? Has this made him a better person? Worse? Even though my situation has ended rather badly, I have to say that we do both now look forward to our separate futures.
I can just die with my secret.
Why it failed: Harboring such a secret is an incredibly toxic practice. Every day I thought about being a girl. Your husband or boyfriend may think about dressing as a girl, or enjoying the sensation of silk and lace every day as well. There is no safe way to stifle something that so consumes a person every day.
Society will reject me.
Why it failed: Although there is a stigma on trans people, “They’re perverted, they hate their fathers, they can’t be trusted…” I had no actual real life points of reference. I would very rarely steal away at night to the local gay clubs so that I could freely express myself, but that is hardly a test of my identity in everyday life. I simply could not say this to myself and believe it to be true.
There are many thoughts that are capable of keeping a trans person in the closet, and though we only touched upon five I can probably create a novel sized list of them. I guess many of the fallacies I clung to can be attributed to societal expectation, family pressure, and religious upbringing. I truly did feel a ton of guilt regarding my early life choices. I, as many trans people do, wish I would have come out young and stuck to my guns, but life can take you places that aren’t always best, and successfully dealing with difficult change almost always makes someone better.
Image credit: calmenda