Transgender Widows

Photo by Norbu GYACHUNG on Unsplash

The idea for this post comes directly from “Takoda  Patterson” on the “Medium” blog. She writes about a subject which I have been on both sides of, acceptance (or non acceptance) of my transgender leanings by a spouse. You Cyrsti’s Condo know the story but before we get to it, in Takoda’s words, what is a trans widow?

“A trans widow is a woman (usually heterosexual) whose male partner or husband believes that they have a gender identity other than “man” or who cross-dresses. Often women also report having experienced that their husband or partner has autogynephilic (AGP).

Women in this situation report feeling like their male partner has died. This is particularly true if the partner or husband came out as transgender and decided to transition. The transformation is usually so complete that their partner is unrecognizable as the man they married. Both in looks and personality.”

Back to me. My wife and I of 25 years literally waged a gender war of attrition. She unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack when she was 50. Crossdressing on my part was no problem with her but she drew the line when I discussed the possibility of hormone replacement therapy. I am not proud of the times I went behind her back to explore the feminine world and then tried to lie to her about it. My problem was I did love her deeply and selfishly tried to live both sides of the gender spectrum. 

Perhaps some of you have attempted to go down the same road before it became too difficult to do. 

Over the years, I have found life is but a circle and the time I was down and out was repaid by the life I have now. I was able to find and get along with a cis woman who totally accepts my transgender self. I need to point out though the person I found could have just as easily been a man. Selfishly though, I have always been around women in my life so staying with woman was always easier. 

In my case I guess I have been a true transgender widow since my wife passed away in 2007.

From Both Sides Now

 Before the get started, let me send along my thanks to all of you on several different blogging platforms who sent along birthday wishes. All were very much appreciated!

Now, perhaps you all remember the recent Cyrsti’s Condo post concerning Jayde and her very understanding spouse. During my long life, I have had the opportunity to be on both sides of the spousal fence. 

Some of you may remember I met my first wife (and the mother of my only child) in the Army. She found out about my cross dressing desires after a Halloween party. Over an approximate five year relationship it became increasingly evident she didn’t really care about my gender leanings. I often thought if I told her I was leaving for a couple weeks to change my sex, she would have said oh well. 

All of this led me to the relationship I started with the cis woman who was to be my wife for twenty five years. Looking back at it, the beginnings of our life together represented the last gasp at my attempts to put my feminine self behind me. Even though I told her I was a cross dresser to start with, I had to aggressively pursue her to embark on a relationship. Essentially I was to win the battle, only to lose the war within myself and with her. 

As the years went by, she never really fought my cross dressing urges but was totally against any suggestion I was transgender. Unfortunately, the longer I fought my transgender urges, the worse our battles became. I am not proud of the times I snuck out when she was at work, only to have her come home and discover my transgression. Essentially to me, I was violating our marriage vows. Plus, she always seemed to hold the upper hand when she told me things like “Be man enough to be a woman.”

Ironically, after years of fighting, making up and trying my best to live male, she suddenly passed away from a severe heart attack at the age of fifty. I loved her dearly and it was quite the shock but eventually freed me up to see if I could live full time as a transgender woman. Still I needed help to push through my doubts.

At that point, approximately nine years ago, Liz entered my life. In a complete turnaround, she told me I was a woman and I should go ahead with hormone replacement therapy to feel better. We are still together and I am living happily full time in a feminine world. Finally, the huge weight of being bi-gendered has been lifted from my shoulders. 

I have seen the relationship world from both sides.

A Partner?

I received several very good comments on my recent Cyrsti’s Condo post concerning the day my wife suddenly had the chance to turn into my competitor when it came to a gender confrontation with another guy. It was turning into an increasingly flirtatious situation. 
The first comment comes from Michelleisback:

 ” I know that the situation, where one realizes the dynamics of male/female interaction, has both good and bad connotations when it comes to wife and husband relationships. It’s a real eye opener when you realize that you are the third party wallflower girlfriend, when watching you spouse interact with a male. It makes one wonder if she sees you as competition or just someone that has no recourse but to just go for the ride along and just sit quietly in the background. i guess all you can hope for is that your relationship with her is strong enough to remind her that you are partners in life.”

Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, I don’t think my wife ever got to the point of ever seeing me as anything else but competition. In other words, our relationship as two women was toxic. Even though over the years I changed so much  as I grew into being a transgender woman, I am not so sure we could have ever made it together as a couple. 

In fact, before she passed away I was trying to live as a man the best I could. If I had to guess, I don’t think I could have made it much farther the way I was going.

I will post another comment later!

Multiple Transitions

As promised, here is the second comment (from Connie) concerning the Cyrsti’s Condo post on how I felt when my wife and I were out very early in my transition and she started to talk to another guy:
“Better to be a wing-woman for a wife than a competitor. How would she have felt, had the guy decided to sit down next to you and chat you up, instead? There’s no doubt that the husband/wife relationship gets turned upside-down and sideways when one of them switches gender.

Years ago, my wife came to a bar where my band was playing (starring “The Fabulous Connie Dee”). After the first set was over, I was going to sit with her, but went to the bar for a drink, first. While waiting at the bar, a guy commenced to hit on me, and, by the time I got rid of him, it was time to go back on stage. A few songs into the next set, the same guy appeared on the dance floor with my wife. I remember the mixed feelings I had, being jealous (as a husband), and helpless (as a woman). I also felt jealous (as a woman), and helpless (as a husband). I really had no reason to be jealous, but I was helpless because I’d given up any rights I had had as a man and husband. It certainly wasn’t her choice for me to become her girlfriend.

At that time, we’d reached a point in our changing relationship where my wife was much more aware that my manhood was fading away than I was, myself. She’d already started mourning the loss of her husband, while I was just at a loss of how to be a husband as a woman. I’ve always felt that it is important to be aware, as part of one’s own transition, that it is a catalyst for everyone else involved to go through their own transitions, as well. Because the trans person has, most likely, had years to make the decision to transition, it would be foolish to expect a spouse – or anyone else – to make such an adjustment immediately. In our case, however, my wife’s transition had progressed further than my own, at that time.

I’m lucky, if not mystified, that we are still married, just a few days short of forty-eight years. We probably won’t be having a big celebration, and I know we won’t go out dancing. I’ll probably buy her some flowers, but she’ll know that I’ll be enjoying them just as much as she does; she has for a long time.”

Congratulations on your anniversary! The complexity of the gender situation in a transgender person’s relationship  is amazing.

More “Such a Girl”

In a recent Cyrsti’s Condo post, we took a quick and all too simplistic look into what happens when a husband comes out to her spouse and family. Of course the path is a rocky one paved with all sorts of misplaced good intentions. Lets’ check in with Connie concerning her long term relationship with her wife:
“While all relationships differ in an infinite number of ways, so do those in which one person is trans. Any combination of when, why, where, what, with, whom, and how will make a relationship unique. Also, no relationship is really perfect, and I have to imagine that a gender change by one party would not go toward making things closer to perfection.

In my case, I need to add coulda-woulda-shoulda to the list of variables. I met my wife at seventeen, just four months into a concerted effort to suppress my gender dysphoria. There was no need, I thought, to tell her of my perversity (what I believed it to be back then), because I thought it to be completely under control. I didn’t tell her nearly four years later, when we married (still under control). I didn’t tell her even after the births of our two daughters (Dad’s in control!). When I did finally lose control, it was the end of a seventeen year suppression – but I still tried to keep control through compartmentalization – so, still no need to tell. Of course, the activity of cross dressing in secret eventually becomes no secret at all – even if not talked about. Our relationship had to hit rock-bottom before we could start to really deal with my gender identity together, which – keeping with a theme – occurred another seventeen years later. As I write this, another seventeen years have passed, and our forty-eighth anniversary is coming soon. Our marriage looks nothing like what it started out as (few marriages do, even without a gender conflict). I’m sure that it wouldn’t have started at all, had I come out when we met 50+ years ago, nor would it have survived, had I come out to her at the same time I sort-of came out to myself, returning to the “shameful” behavior of my youth.

I could write a booklet on “How Not to Be a Happily Married Trans Woman.” I was a husband who was this such a girl, then that such a girl, and many such iterations in-between. Consequently, my wife has had to make her own transitions throughout this whole process – to the point where she has given up having a husband at all, but she still has “such a girl.”

Thanks for the comment! 

With my deceased wife, I became a woman she didn’t like so well. She was a very natural woman, she rarely wore makeup and dresses. All of a sudden she had to put up with me being the “Pretty. pretty Princess.” Back in those days, I was really into being a beginning fashionista…everything she wasn’t. Plus, as she wasn’t shy about telling me, I really knew nothing about being a woman. Of course with my male ego, I didn’t believe her and was destined to never really understand until years later after her passing. I had to live full-time in a feminine world to understand. 
Finally, I came to understand I wasn’t kidding myself all those years. I really was such a girl. Unfortunately when I interacted with my late wife, neither one of us knew the real me.  

Russian Bride

From the Moscow Times:

“Authorities in Russia have registered one of the first transgender marriages in a country that positions itself as a bastion of traditional family values.

Erika Askarova and Viktor Manuilin’s otherwise ordinary wedding made national headlines after the

two postedphotographs from the registry office in the city of Kazan on Dec. 12. Askarova, 30, and Manuilin, 20, told news outlets that they decided to make their relationship official months after they both changed their gender.”

Reportively, Russia still classifies transgender people as mentally ill.