If transvestites are prone to be secretive, transsexuals can seem more disconnected. Especially before the true nature of their transsexualism becomes apparent. Sometimes it may seem that a transsexual partner is closed off, holding back. The biggest obstacle to being honest in such circumstances, is most likely fear.
Throughout their life most transsexual people have been subject to fear. The fear of others finding out, the fear of humiliation and of being ostracized, a fear that people won’t understand. Some adopt a ‘hit first ask questions later’ type of defence. This in turn can lead to intimacy problems later on, when despite being in a relationship they still hold their true selves back, for a multitude of reasons.
Once transsexualism becomes apparent it can be more of a shock for a partner to find a whole other person that you did not know existed. There are no easy answers and indeed the transsexual person themselves has to work out many different things.
If a transsexual woman starts treatment and hormone therapy, her outlook can change in all areas of life. This can be a difficult time for her partner and family.
As a partner you may feel detached hurt and angry that your partner could do such a thing to you. It is important to remember they are not doing this to hurt you, but because they can no longer live what has essentially been a lie. That doesn’t mean that they don’t love you or your relationship has been based on lies. It is impossible to have a good relationship based on nothing and so there must have been feelings at the start and most likely a misplaced belief that the feelings that your partner was subjected to could be hidden or kept at bay.
Questions will inevitably arise about what your partner's transsexualism means to you as an individual. Do you feel you can still live together and have a relationship and if so, what will that relationship actually be.
Although your partner is changing, you are not expected to, nor will you be able to change your sexuality, you whole sense of being just to make them happy and fall in with their plans. You have to accept you are not responsible for them, and in doing that, if you feel you can stay and built something new or if you have to go and be separate, you should feel no guilt in making the decision that is right for you.
That’s easy to say, but harder to do. Some women feel confused and angry, that’s natural, you may still love your partner but not want to be with a woman. You may accept others' transsexualism yet find it impossible to see your partner as anything other than a man. This is classed as dangerous ground, I guess, and not often said or discussed, no one wants to admit to feelings which could almost be seen as discriminatory, but even the most accepting and understanding partners can be plagued by these sort of thoughts. In order to understand you feelings fully, you need to work out how you see your partner. If all you can see is the male, then the relationship cannot continue.
When you have been with someone for a while, you may have a certain lifestyle, set routines, children and many other constraints. It is important that you ignore all these factors and concentrate on the basic facts initially. I would suggest the basic things you need to ask yourself are,
Can I be with a woman?
Can I support my partner through transition, with all that entails?
If the answer to either question is NO, then you need to address how best you can go about doing what is right for both of you, leaving all other things aside.
People often put up and shut up, or say we can 'if, a b or c'. The problem is such situations are rarely resolved and it may be better and fairer to end things decently and civilly for both you sakes.
If you feel you may be able to carry on and want to explore that option further there are some wonderful places and organisations who are geared up to help you work through things - The Gender Trust, Transliving and many Counselling services including Tina Livingstone and others who you will be able to access from the links page. Those mentioned are specialists in working with transgendered people and their partners, there is nothing you can say or do that would shock or surprise.
The important thing to remember is no matter how hurt and alone you feel, there are many people who have been through the same type of problem and lived to tell the tale. Some have remained with their partners and some have parted but irrespective they have made it through and are busy living again.
There is always someone here who will listen and if necessary, point you in appropriate directions to ensure your needs are met. Never feel you are alone.
© Transpartners 2008
Gifted to Transliving