Coming out as transgender

I came out to my girlfriend of 3 months, at the time, as questioning my gender. Her reaction was an immediate “what does this mean for me?” and “what does this mean for our relationship?” It was the first time I had spoken my issues out loud, let alone to another human being. I immediately retreated into my closet full of “I could never actually transition” and “I have a career/life/family I can’t possibly be transition” and “I’m too old to transition” and a side dose of “I like girls I obviously can’t be a girl myself because I’m not gay”, reassured her that everything was fine, and we didn’t speak of it again.

Until Narcissa Wright, the speedrunner, came out as trans. She could read it on my face. I once again insisted all of the above and went back into my safe, comfortable, closet.

Then Jordan Raskopoulos, from Axis of Awesome, came out as trans. We were sitting in an empty movie theater, and her coming out video was posted, and I watched it holding back tears because everything she said in that video spoke to me. Once again, my girlfriend could read it on my face, and asked if I needed to or wanted to transition. I once again insisted all of the above, and went back into my closet.

And that’s how things went. Every once in while she’d poke the closet, and I’d keep the door shut.

I proposed to my girlfriend, and we eventually got married. What I originally wanted to be a small, classy, but not quite traditional wedding turned into a very traditional wedding with the help of her mother. I’d never been so uncomfortable in a suit and tie before, which I largely, at the time, chalked up to being cold feet.

I crossdressed for the following Halloween. I went as Linkle. It was, largely at least, my wife’s idea. We were floating costume ideas for each other back and forth and I was eyeing a nice Breath of the Wild Link costume. She, maybe jokingly, suggested Linkle. I did it! It was super cute and amazing and freeing. That was a turning point for me, I think.

A few months later, just before the new year, my wife and I went to Disney in Concert at the Symphony. They played Reflections from Mulan. I’d never seen Mulan before, and hadn’t heard that song before. I cried. A lot. Pretty sure my wife didn’t notice this time. That night she woke me up in the middle of the night with “I had a dream you were trans and left me.” She immediately fell back asleep. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her about it. She was just out.

January 1st. We were driving to my parents’ house. I worked up the courage to ask her about her dream, and why she thought I would leave her. I came out to her again, this time saying I really felt I had to do something about it. That the feelings weren’t going away, only getting worse and harder to ignore. She convinced me to see a gender therapist.

So that next Monday I did some research, there were exactly 3 LGBT friendly therapists in an hour radius. One of them was in the city I work in. I emailed, expecting a long wait list. They could see me on Thursday.

My wife didn’t take that news very well. She was supportive, but thought things were happening too fast. She thought we agreed to think about a gender therapist. I guess she didn’t realize she convinced me, and didn’t expect me to just… do it? I’m not usually great at following through on things. Maybe she thought I was all bark and no bite? I don’t really know.

Seeing a therapist was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Opening up to a complete stranger, voicing my fears and worries and concerns about being transgender in a really conservative area, it was all a new and terrifying experience for me. But I got through it, and each week felt more and more comfortable.

In February my sister came home to see my brothers’ new baby. My whole immediate family was together for the first time in a long time. With the help of my wife, I managed to come out to all of them. I still wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I’d actually transition, or what would happen, but I wouldn’t see my sister again for who knew how long and this wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted to do over the phone. My wife poked and prodded me until it was obvious to my mom that something was up, and I managed to get everyone in the same room for a few minutes to come out. I grew up Catholic. My mom still worked for the church at the time. LGBT stuff was frowned upon. I wouldn’t say my family was homophobic or transphobic, just that… well, it wasn’t a thing that was considered at all. My mom’s response to the whole thing “what, does this mean you go both ways, or…?” “No, um, that’d be genderqueer, or non-binary, or well, um….” My brother chimed in, “are you thinking Bisexual? That’s different.” The conversation continued, with my haphazard attempts to explain what transgender meant, and what it meant to me, and how it related to them, and everything. All in all things went well. I explained I was planning to get more information from Planned Parenthood before I made a decision, but wanted my sister to know what was happening before she went home the next day.

That night we called her family. Her sister didn’t care. She’s a social justice major. Her parents though… it didn’t go well. They told us not to talk on social media and not to tell her extended family and yeah, they weren’t happy with me, especially.

I called Planned Parenthood a couple days later. Once again, I was expecting a long waiting list. They got me in almost immediately. When I told my wife that I had an appointment, she was once again upset with me. Once again she was supportive, but thought we were going to talk about it some more. Once again, I don’t think she realized that when I said I was going to call Planned Parenthood, that I was actually going to do it. That it was more “I’m going to call them sometime in the nebulous future” and not “I’m actually going to pick up the phone the next chance I get.” She was supportive though, and wanted to go to the appointment with me to learn alongside me.

A few weeks later I was at Planned Parenthood. It was the third day I was presenting femme out in public (fourth, if you include Halloween, I suppose). My wife went along with me, but they wouldn’t let her back in the doctor’s office. They asked me a bunch of questions about my sex life, if I felt safe at home, if i had a support network, if I was being coerced into being there, etc. After about 15 minutes of that, they allowed my wife to come back with me. From there things went so much easier than I expected. They gave me some light reading, which basically covered what I already knew about being transgender, and getting HRT. Before I knew it, they handed me an informed consent sheet. All I had to do was sign it. I looked over at my wife. Partially for permission, partially for reassurance. “Is this what you want?” she asked me. I nodded. “I think so.” I was still second guessing myself, fearful of the future, what this all meant, etc. My wife reassured me, and I signed it.

Blood tests were done to get initial levels and to check my health and, whatever it is doctors do before saying HRT is okay to go.

The next few weeks were spent waiting for the results, researching sperm freezing, and doing the things that needed done before I actually started HRT. I still wasn’t 100% sure I was going through with it all, but the point of no return would be actually taking the pills. Before that, I felt like just taking steps towards that goal was the right thing to do.

I got the blood tests back in a couple of days, and my doctor sent a prescription for Estradiol and Spironolactone to my pharmacy. I called my wife and gave her the news. Once again, she was supportive, but came off a lot more cautious and uncertain. “You’re not going to take it, right? I thought we talked about this. We haven’t even gone to the sperm bank yet.” I assured her that I can pick up the prescription without taking it. That I wouldn’t take it until we talked, and that I was sure that it was what I wanted to do, and that we’d finish the sperm banking which had already been scheduled.

She asked if I should give her the pill bottles, so I wouldn’t be tempted. I got the feeling she didn’t trust me, and that I’d just go behind her back and do it without talking to her like I promised I would. I just put them in my medicine cabinet. We talked the next few nights, a lot. I was more and more sure by the day that it was what I wanted, what I needed. I promised her that I’d wait until after the sperm banking was done.

Sperm banking is the most awkward thing I’ve ever done. It’s just so… clinical? I guess that’s the right word for it. I went to the doctor’s office, and was put in a little room with a chair and a doctor’s examining table, with a tv and a dvd player, and some magazines. I went for a week and a half. Friday, Monday, Wednesday, and again Friday. Apparently a week is as long as the HIV blood tests are good for, and if I tried to make extra deposits it’d take another blood test and that’d take even more money. It’s expensive. I think we ended up spending $1200 on sperm banking. I had to work remotely all of those days, because the only place to sperm bank was an hour from my house, and two hours from work.

That last Friday, I sat in a Starbucks after my banking appointment with my pill bottles in hand. We had talked the night before, and agreed to start taking them after I did the final deed. I texted my wife that it was done, and that all the specimens turned out great. We ended up with something like 6 full doses of future baby making. “Are you really okay with me starting hormones?” I asked. “*nods*” she texted back, “Scared, but I am okay.”

Down the hatch.

That night, we went to the tattoo and piercing shop to get my ears pierced. I hate needles.

The next day, my mom decided to go to her family’s house and wanted to tell all of them the news. She didn’t want me to go with, or be there when it happened. I suspect that she needed support for herself, more than she cared about my feelings or interests. I reluctantly agreed to let her tell all of them on her own, and to report back to me how it went. Everyone turned out to be supportive. For the next few hours I’d be getting emails and texts from family I never hear from except when I go to visit telling me how happy they are for me and how they support me in anything I do.

My wife’s extended family still didn’t know. Her parents still had no interest in talking to them.

A week later I was at work and in a short meeting with my boss. He questioned my earrings. It was the first time anyone mentioned them. I wasn’t out at work yet, or to anyone except for family and really close friends. I forget exactly what was said, but it’s a really conservative company that I work for and while earrings aren’t against the dress code, being on a boy… well, it’s a conservative company. Feeling the pressure, I came out to him. It was literally the first for the company. It’s not a small company either. He said he would put some feelers out for me, check with HR without mentioning names, and find out what it is exactly we’d have to do. Overall he was supportive just cautious.

I told my wife what happened. “How did it come up?” She wasn’t happy. “I thought we were going to wait until my job was secure?”

We fought a bit. I say fought, but it was more a nervous discussion about being fearful for both of our jobs and worries of discrimination and getting fired or let go for rocking the boat and… bleh. We ended the conversation with her making me promise to keep it off social media for now. Her extended family snoops, you see, and I’m not exactly a subtle or private when it comes to my online social media presence.

I reluctantly agreed.

The next few weeks were filled with small, subtle changes. Exactly the sort of things that Planned Parenthood told me would happen. Every week or so I’d have a private, quiet meeting with my boss about the higher ups, and what he was learning, and what they were planning. Everything was mostly positive. The only real question/sticking point/worry was “the bathroom issue.”

The head of HR wanted to meet with me. We setup a meeting and discussed coming out, my name change, legalities, company policies, and… once again… “the bathroom issue.” They apparently decided to put in a gender neutral bathroom, despite my insistence that I’d just like to use the women’s restroom like a normal woman and not make a big deal out of it. They insisted that they still wanted to do it, and to give them some time to work out the details. They told me that they couldn’t force me to use the gender neutral bathroom, just that they would “heavily encourage it” or something along those lines. I told them they had about two months before I “couldn’t hide it” anymore, and that I was willing to wait.

As the beginnings of my transition went on, the more concerns and worries I got from my wife. The more I presented publically, the less people started seeing us as “a couple” and more as “just friends.” She was struggling with being in a lesbian gay marriage. She never considered herself to be anything but straight, though I knew she had a strong bi-curious streak. To me, I was still me, and nothing was changing, but to her, she began questioning her sexuality and ability to “be with a woman.”

We’d often talk about it, and various other transgender related subjects. We were both very social justice minded, and both very feminist. She was really good at reminding me that I wasn’t “socialized as a woman.” It was never meant to be demeaning or disregarding of my being transgender. I know she wasn’t trying to be offensive, or TERFy, but there were some definite TERF talking points that were brought up. I, mostly, agreed with her. There’s a nuance there, that I feel a lot of transgender women ignore and it’s hard to bring up without sounding like a TERF. I can’t deny that my upbringing was inherently “male” and that her upbringing was inherently “female.” That doesn’t make my status as a woman any less, just… different.

Two months pass, and little word about the new bathroom has come out. I’m starting to wear a bra to work, and baggy button down shirts aren’t hiding the budding breasts that I had growing on my chest. I told my boss I couldn’t wait much longer, and gave them a two week notice. He gave me permission to come out to my coworkers, and that whoever I didn’t come out to directly he’d just quietly mention it and give department heads a heads up. No need for a formal “coming out email” to the company or anything, thankfully.

Coming out to my coworkers, a typical “boys club” of programmers, was amazingly uneventful. I got all of their attention, and in the middle of our cubes just told them simply “I’m Transgender. I’m going to start presenting femme in the next two weeks.” My voice was shaking. One of the head programmers asked if I wanted to go to a more private place to do this. I told him I didn’t give a shit, and that it would be public knowledge soon enough so I didn’t really care. That was really the end of it though. No questions or concerns, not crude jokes or comments. A couple “you do you” type comments were as far as it went. Overall a good experience!

My boss told everyone else for me. I haven’t heard any bad, just some concerns about “the bathroom issue” and if my marriage was going to be okay and general concern for my well being. The other head developer told me that it came up in some planning meetings, and the worst response was “well that’s just the way things are now.”

Unrelated drama happened that May, which lead to my wife and I starting to go to my therapist as a couple. My friends and her never got along, and things happened to escalate the problem. This is largely what started to drive a wedge between the two of us. While this drama with my friends was the catalyst, much of therapy was spent talking about our couples issues. We were slowly working through our issues though, and finding a middle ground we could both live with, but there was also the nagging issue of her own sexuality, especially as my transition progressed and I became more and more womanly.

Nonetheless, she was always incredibly supportive of me. We went shopping together. She’d recommend clothes, haphazardly pulling things off the rack and convincing me to try them on. Every step of my transition, she helped push me forwards. She convinced me to see a gender therapist. She convinced me to call Planned Parenthood. She convinced me to start taking HRT. None of these things I could have done without her behind me, pushing me forwards. I thought things could work out, and largely they felt like they were.

Then, one night she showed up to therapy a few minutes late. As it turned out, she just didn’t want to come in until she absolutely had to. We talked a bit, and then she comes out and says it. “I can’t do this anymore.” She couldn’t be with a woman. She couldn’t keep being in a gay marriage.

I don’t remember much of the rest of that night. She left therapy ahead of me, and didn’t come home with me. I spent the night alone, and skipped work the next day. I did manage to drag myself out of bed, and drove into the city to hang out at Starbucks for the day. I had to get out of the house. Everything reminded me of her, and I needed to be somewhere I could think.

One of my best friends happened to be there too, one of the ones involved in the drama that started driving a wedge between my wife and I. We spent the morning talking and going over everything that happened. We went out to lunch and were joined by my best friend for nearly two decades, who had nothing but unpleasant things to be said about my wife. It was cathartic, in a way, even if it was all hard as hell to hear. I hadn’t been able to speak honestly and openly with them since the May incident. They were, and still are, my best friends, and my marriage had driven a huge gap in that friendship.

That night, I get a text from my wife. She misses me and wants to come home. I agree to that, because I knew that we needed to talk. Her leaving me the night before was a complete surprise. I didn’t see it coming. I told my friends what happened, and that I should head home. We parted ways, and I waited anxiously for my wife to return.

We talked for a long time that night. We talked about what each of us had been through the past 24 hours. I confessed my sins of the past day. I spoke as honestly and truthfully as I’ve ever spoken, because my filter was gone. I didn’t care if it hurt her or not, because she had hurt me, and she needed to know how I felt, and where my mind went. It felt like the most right thing to do at the time. I told her that I had stalked my bank account, terrified she would empty it and leave me with nothing. I told her that had called an attorney, to find out what I should do legally. All mostly irrational fears and worries. I had gone into self preservation mode. That in my depressive mood I went on a spending spree, because when I get depressed I spend money. It’s been an issue I’ve been dealing with for a long time, but everything else was “more important” so it hadn’t gotten the attention that it should have deserved. I bought a new phone, and almost bought a new laptop, with the money that was in my bank account afraid she would take it all. I told her that I couldn’t be separated from my friends anymore, that there must be some way they all can get along, and that they should all get together and talk, and if not that then I’d be spending time with them without her. That I missed my friends, and wasn’t going to ghost them.

She told me that the transition has been hard on her. That she doesn’t know if she can be with a woman. That she missed [deadname]. That I’ve changed so much since I started transitioning.

I asked her if she remembered the first promise she made to me. The promise we made, long ago, when we first started dating, was that no matter what happened, if we were going to split up, that it’d be a mutual decision. That we would talk it through, and come to an agreement. But she left me. She walked out on me. She broke the promise.

The next week was tense, but we remained together. We went to therapy again. We talked things through. I couldn’t force her to be someone she wasn’t, just as she couldn’t force me to be someone I wasn’t. I don’t want to make it sound like my being transgender was the reason we are getting divorced. It’s a reason, but not the reason. The rest of which aren’t related to the point of this blog. Eventually, we both agreed that we needed to split. That divorce was the right answer for both of us.

She went to a friends’ for the weekend. I spent the weekend alone. She came back home again on Monday night, to sleep in the guest room for the work week, before going away for the weekend again.

We spent a couple of months like that until she finally found an apartment.

We’re officially split now, but we still talk. We’re tentatively trying to see if we can still be friends after all of this, but right now my only concern is staying civil until the divorce goes through. I don’t know if we can be friends, after all of this is said and done. We met each other on OKCupid, and immediately jumped into a relationship with one another. We don’t know what “friendship” means to either of us at this point in time.

We’ve spent time together since splitting. Each time she’s reminded me how much I’ve changed, and how much she misses [deadname]. She talks about the me before transitioning as if they are dead. As if it is something to be mourned. It’s the hardest thing to hear. I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much. I don’t know what she sees that has changed.

My friends are convinced that she’s a TERF. I can’t say I entirely agree. At the very minimum she could walk that line, and sometimes tiptoe over the edge. I look back on our relationship, and she was always great at reminding me that I wasn’t socialized as a woman, that I didn’t grow up the same, that expectations were different. It was never malicious though, and it was, at least I don’t think, intended to make me feel like less of a woman, but it had that effect anyways.

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