On September 9, 2017 I woke up hungover. I had been out the night before with friends until an hour that was later than preferred. Gin and soda with lime: so wonderful in the moment and so awful the next day. Kyle went to get me a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, a routine that I regret every time I think about it because it costs too much and is such a millennial thing to do. When he got back we proceeded to commence the healing process of sitting on the couch and reliving the wonder that is being young, living in our wonderful city, and having no time-obligation.
At some point during this decompression, I remembered that I needed to ask him about some things that I had noticed. I remembered that I couldn’t procrastinate any longer the third person in our room, the changes that had taken place over the summer. In August on a camping trip with friends, Kyle admitted to me while we were on a walk that he had been extremely depressed. I responded in a way I’m not proud of. I was angry he had hidden it from me. What does it say about our marriage if we keep secrets from each other and he can’t trust me enough to let me help him with something like this? Also, how self-focused was I that I didn’t notice? It was sometime during the week following that trip that I was listening to a podcast in which the host interviewed a teenager transitioning from Male-to-Female (MtF) and it occurred to me there was more going on than just the depression. Kyle was growing out his hair for charity. Kyle shaved his beard, a token of his manhood and the one thing I could never get him to shave when it was at it’s most unappealing and straggle-y-est (not a word, don’t care). Kyle got his toenails painted for the first time after 2 years of going with me to the nail salon. Did all of these things add up?
I spent the next few weeks knowing I needed to ask, knowing I couldn’t ignore the little voice in my head that said “you’re not wrong and you can’t ignore it”, but I couldn’t find the right time. I didn’t want to ask during the week, on a school night, because I knew the conversation should it go the direction my gut said it was going, wouldn’t be a short one, and that going to work the next day wouldn’t be possible. I knew that my asking about how A+B+C might = T would change my life forever. It sounds dramatic when I say “forever”, and I’m fully accountable to that, but imagine for a moment that you are dating someone where you had no idea this was happening. Imagine, you married them. You imagined your life on the porch as an old person with another old person who is supposed to be a certain gender. You hit them with your cane in that image because it’s funny and that’s what the two of you always talked about. That image in your mind is what you said “I do” to on an anxiety-filled day at his parents house in front of 120 people. That’s who you made plans to travel the world with and have babies with and reflect on that time you regretfully got a second cat because you’re both idiots who thought your first cat was lonely. How am I supposed to take the image of my life, throw it in the shredder, and become that couple that keeps happening in highly-publicized tv dramas?How am I supposed to break my own heart?
I paused whatever was on Netflix and asked my beautiful, kind, wonderful, genuine husband about all of the things that I had noticed since he told me about the depression 3 weeks earlier. I’ll never forget the way he looked at me as he readjusted his position on the couch to fully face me and tell me the story that breaks so many others in similar situations. I watched him cry as he looked at me with total trepidation, afraid of my reaction. I can’t say I remember the entirety of the conversation, but I will never forget the vulnerability on Kyle’s face as he took steps forward and stepped into the light that will inevitably shine the pathway of his life moving forward. It changed both of us. It changed our marriage. It changed me.
That conversation and the three months since have brought me to here. I tried to journal about my experiences as the wife of a human who is transitioning from male to female, but I’m inherently lazy and handwriting anything takes too long which lead to a lack of documentation. I’m here, where I can type my tragedy, tears, and humor about it all for myself and anyone else who needs it. Why?
There isn’t very much out there for those of us who find out while in their late-twenties that their spouse is transgender. There is very little for women like me, who don’t know if they can love a woman in the same way they love their husband. I’ve looked in a lot of places (Reddit, books online, online magazines, articles written by experts, that Amazon show Transparent to name a few), but none of them seem to depict a relatable image for my specific scenario. Granted, it’s a big world and I’m at the beginning of this journey, so I’m confident that I’m not seeing all there is. Needless to say, this blog is about my life post-Outing. The confusion, tears, jokes, self-doubt, and unmistakable pain are mine and they are as real as I can remember them. I’m doing this for myself, because I want to remember what it felt like to examine the depths of my being and to redefine what I think “marriage” is. I’m also doing this for those on this planet who might need to find someone that hasn’t been married for over 20 years, doesn’t have kids, and doesn’t know if they can be in love with the woman their husband didn’t start as.
I feel it necessary to say that at this very moment I’m still getting used to the pronouns and the new name. I haven’t decided if Kyle will be the name I use when I refer the time pre-Outing. To be clear, the only thing I do know is eventually my husband will anatomically be my wife and her name will be Katie (according to the legal system). Emotionally I go in-between recognizing each version of my spouse. When I’ve explained what this experience is like to the family, friends, and coworkers that know, I tell them it’s like a death. I’m watching the slow death of my life as I know it sleep in the bed next to me, make me dinner, go to therapy, host Canadian Thanksgiving, and be my absolute best friend. It’s a death that I don’t get to say goodbye to with a funeral and lasagnas sent over by friends who don’t know what to say. It’s a death that has limited support groups for spouses (one in all of Seattle as of right now – are you fucking serious?!). It’s a death no one relates to, because most people don’t even know they’ve ever met someone transgender. Our society doesn’t even know to the extent this is not just the fad reality show conversation soaked in the controversy of bathroom-bills and Caitlin Jenner. I know this now more than I ever did before September 9th of this year. Maybe, if anyone reads this, they will too.
I also acknowledge that there are probably 100 ways I’ve offended people in this blog because of my own naiveté on the subject. My spouse and I are fully invested in learning through this experience together. We are committed to doing what’s right for the other no matter what the means to our marriage. We are individually committed to seeing where this path leads. AND I’M LEARNING. Please go easy on the girl who has limited resources when it comes to how to be the best wife in this situation for MY spouse. Katie knows what works for her and I trust her to tell me when I step on an uneducated landmine. Our story is ours, and yours is yours. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that no one-size actually fits all (those people that make one-size clothing are fucking liars. That shirt never looks as good on the Large chest as it does on the Extra Small one) and I judge myself enough without the judgement of others.