Mr.TenInch and I have been together for over 3 years. Legally married, but socially only engaged for a year (long story, he was about to have brain surgery, but still wanted to have the big wedding) And then on our third anniversary he dropped a bombshell at dinner. One that I immediately knew would mean the end of our marriage. He told me that he is a trans woman. He had no idea until this year, and he told me as soon as he was sure, but he is definitely absolutely sure that he is a woman.

Before I go any further, I must clarify that I am using he/him pronouns still because that is what he prefers until he comes out to more people and begins transitioning. As soon as he is ready, I will use she/her. I already use she/her in my head.

It is a very strange thing, to be told that your spouse is not who you thought you married. There is the overwhelming need to support and love this person through their experience and exploration, but there is also a very separate and very real need to mourn the fact that you are losing a person, a future, even your past with this person (depending on how they view their past selves.) For me, it meant grieving in private. In the bathroom stalls at work every hour or so. In the car driving home. While he was taking a shower, or out grabbing us dinner. I could not show him the depth of my sadness, because he has always instinctively flexed to give me what I want. Or what he believes I want. I knew if he could see my grief, he would backtrack and try to convince himself that he didn’t need to transition and that we could stay together as husband and wife.

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I slipped up two weeks after he told me. I got some different, separate bad news from a close friend and everything came to a head. I came home angry and I told him that I was angry and that it was his fault I was angry. That weekend, he told me that he didn’t want to transition and he would choose me over living life as a woman.

I’ve read a lot about the experiences of people whose partners have come out as trans. For some, their sexuality can flex enough to maintain the physical attraction as their partner transitions. For some, they choose to live as platonic partners because they love this person enough to stay with them even if the physical attraction is no longer there. And for others, they simply do not have the flexibility to do either of those things. It took me some time to accept that I am in the third category. I am straight as an arrow, with a strong desire to have at least one biological child. I am under thirty and don’t want to live a sex-less life, no matter how much I love Mr.TenInch. And I do love him.

We got into therapy as soon as we could. A couples counselor experienced in gender questioning/transitions, who comfortably understands and can balance both of our experiences and needs. He helped me parse my feelings on the matter, and figure out that my “no win” mentality was wrong. There is a happy ending possible here. It’s by no means an easy option, but if we work at it we can both end up happy. And happy for each other.

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So we are splitting up. We are “breaking up” to our families, but we will need to legally get divorced. We still live together, and want to try to continue doing so. I want to support him in his transition. I can do so enthusiastically as his friend. I will cheerlead and listen and celebrate when he becomes the woman he is meant to be. He will no longer be my ex-husband, he will just be my best friend.