A feeling of betrayal can be an issue for any woman in a relationship with a trans person, especially when you have just found out about the other side of your partner, and particularly so if he didn't tell you and you discovered his transgendered tendencies by chance. After all, you entered a relationship with a man, not a woman, and the discovery that your partner's TG can leave you questioning the whole basis of what you have together.
But sometimes these feelings continue to be an issue throughout such a relationship, if steps are not taken to understand, recognise and address the strong emotions raised. So we will have a look at the different ways you may feel betrayed or let down in your relationship.
You may feel betrayed by the fact that he has kept secrets from you and question if there is anything else he has omitted to mention. Doubts in this area can eat away at you over time if you find yourself unable to let go of the fact that he has lied to you. Sometimes you might feel that your whole relationship has been built on a fabric of lies and during bad times will bring this up again and again.
Some women feel that it would have been easier if their husband or partner had run off with another woman, because the secret they feel they must now keep doesn’t allow them the sympathy or understanding of others. If they reveal their problems they run the risk of becoming the subject of malicious gossip, intolerance, spite or ridicule, which may affect both themselves and their children.
You may feel very alone and isolated. You may feel that the only person you can talk to about your confusion and unhappiness is the very person who has caused you so much distress. This can obviously breed resentment, which in the end may force you further apart.
You may be screaming inside "Why can’t you stop?" and hate your partner for putting your whole, previously comfortable existence in jeopardy. You may privately view transvestism as perverse and wrong, and incorrectly assume that your partner must be gay if he wishes to dress as a woman. You may try to rationalise this betrayal by assuming that he's ill, you may insist that it's a temporary thing which has to be overcome, packed away and never spoken of again.
Some women deal with this by pretending none of it is happening. They refuse to discuss or acknowledge the secret their partner has shared. But hoping that the whole issue will go away if you refuse to acknowledge it, or reacting with anger, despair or total negativity, will only reinforce in your trans partner the feeling that it was a huge mistake to admit to being trans in the first place.
So how to handle those feelings of betrayal?
Everyone has to deal with their own feelings in their own way. But in our experience, the first thing you and your parner need to do, if you want to try to rebuild trust and understanding in your relationship, is to TALK to one another. He needs to understand why you feel as you do, the effect it's had on you, your fears and concerns about where you both go from here - and how can he do that if you're not communicating?
You may find it helpful to do some research - the Internet is full of sites which will help you to learn more about transgenderism and gender dysphoria. It's always easier to deal with a problem when you know something about what you have to deal with! You'll find it easier to cope if you can accept that being TG is not a choice, not something that your partner can change, and that nobody is to blame for this situation - neither him nor you.
If you're feeling isolated, it might help to contact other wives/partners of TG people and exchange thoughts and experiences - many Internet websites for the transgendered have a section for partners, and there is a Forum on this site where we hope people in your situation can talk frankly about their problems.
And if you feel that you really can't handle things on your own, you might consider having some counselling. A trained counsellor won't be able to solve your problems for you, but (s)he will be able to help you understand why you feel the way you do, and support you in deciding what you need to do about it.
But whatever you do, try not to bottle up your feelings and hope they'll go away. To paraphrase a former Prime Minister, the key is Communication, Communication, Communication.....
© Transpartners 2008