Relationships are seldom easy for a trans person. They are not easy for any person who truly invests herself in the relationship; but they bring a whole special set of challenges for trans people. Being in a committed relationship implies having no secrets, but so often, we feel we have no choice but to break that most basic covenant. Whether for our own safety, or from some misguided hope that keeping our nature secret will allow the relationship to grow, we attempt to hide our personal reality from the one person who should know us most deeply. How can we hope to preserve and grow that most special bond, when we do not give all of ourselves to our partners?
Keeping a secret like this creates so many problems. The most fundamental are that from the beginning we withhold information; by default we do not fully invest ourselves in our partners, and we demonstrate a lack of trust in our partners. I would never presume to judge, and I would never suggest a trans woman is wrong for keeping the secret; but I think we at least have to understand how it can lead to significant issues in a relationship. Sadly, the issues often become less about the acceptance of an alternative personality and more about the shaky foundations of the relationship itself. I have to wonder how often a partner's inability or unwillingness to accept his or her partner's true self is not because he or she cannot accept transsexualism, but simply because of the sense of betrayal that partner feels upon learning the new information.
I have been in very few relationships. Just three serious ones in my entire life. I dated more people than that, but I have seldom taken that full dive. In all three instances, my partner knew at least part of the truth about me early in the relationship. The first two lasted for a time, largely in spite of who I was – never a good recipe for a sustainable situation. It is the last relationship I want to discuss. I say “last” rather than “most recent,” because I want to be clear that I truly believe this is the last relationship I will ever enter. I am so fortunate to have actually found “the one,” that I sometimes have to pinch myself to be sure it is real. I have not discussed our relationship in any great detail here, but being Valentine's Day, it seems like a good time to finally share at least part of our story with you.
My partner and I met at a work function. She is beautiful, and I felt an immediate attraction. But I was in a really bad place in my life at that time. I had recently decided to “put away” my past. I had not only packed up and stored all of my girl stuff, but I had even put away most of my musical instruments. However poorly thought out, I had decided that I needed to separate from all of the things I associated with my “female side.” I was not even thinking of the woman in me as “me;” I had relegated her to just a part of my psyche that needed to be rooted out and fixed. In short, I was a mess, so when this beautiful creature actually sought me out following the class, I was both taken aback, and instantly forced to realize I was in no condition to have a relationship.
She would not be ignored though, and within a few short weeks, we met on a personal level for the first time. She came to my home for a small party with some of my friends. She was wonderful. I was a mess. One of the most significant things I remember about that first night, and something I have never shared before now, is somehow in her presence; I actually felt my falseness. I thought until that moment that I had been doing a pretty good job of “being a man,” but something about her made me aware of the thinness of that veil. It was the beginning of a whole new problem. I was so very attracted to her, but I was so freaked out at how inept I felt in her presence. In reality, I was inept whether or not I was in her presence; I just did not realize it at the time. I decided that I could not allow her to get any closer. And so the game began.
In so many ways, the early parts of our relationship seem so typical, when you dismiss which of us was born in which body. She pursued me. I resisted, but my resistance was weak. Finally, I decided I had to drop the bomb that would no doubt bring an end to the madness. One night over dinner and drinks with a couple of our friends (there was a little collateral damage there... only one of them knew the truth about me before that night), I put it all out on the table. I told her that I was actually a woman, that I had always felt the need to correct my body to be able to live as my true self. I did not say it in those words, exactly, I cannot remember it exactly – I had gotten myself a little drunk in order to find the courage to say it. What I do remember was her unflinching response, which was in essence, “and?”.
We left the bar with me convinced that I would never see her again, and her convinced that she would never let me go. Still it was not until our next meeting that my resistance finally melted. I still believed that she would arise from the shock the next day and realize just how lucky she was to be able to get out before things went too far. That is not at all what happened, and the next time we met ended with an hours long conversation about just how perfect we were for each other. I was hooked, and I knew then that I had to admit to myself that I loved her.
[NOTE: There are so many great stories to share about what is no longer my journey, but now our journey. It is more than I can fit in this one blog post. I will save those for the book. Read on:]
We were married less than a year later. Since that first night, so much has happened, and so many things have changed. We have had all the same fights that most couples have (plus a few probably... I am very picky about my kitchen [sheepish grin]). We have faced difficulties. We have shared so many laughs and more tears than some probably share in a lifetime. It has been almost three years since we met, and every day that has passed since that first one has brought us closer together. Sometimes that is her moving closer to me, and sometimes it is me moving closer to her, but always we are moving toward each other. I cannot imagine a life without her. She is my champion – in many, many ways.
I know I am one of the most fortunate women alive. I have found the one person who loves me for who I really am, and who's love I feel more every single day. More accurately, love has found me. I once would have said that I never deserved to be so happy, but today, I believe I do deserve it. I deserve to share my life with the most wonderful woman on the planet. She deserves to have all of my love and devotion for as long as we both live. We both deserve each other, and you know what? You deserve exactly the same thing.
And when you can finally let yourself be seen, and allow someone to really know you; it will be there for you too. I believe that with all of my heart. We all deserve love.
I love you, Jamie. You are my hero.
And Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
P.S. Are you happy now? I have made myself cry... happy tears, but still.