This blog is about my perspective as the wife of a transgender woman watching the early stages of their spouse’s transition. I chose to write because I needed an outlet for this energy, the emotional output that has drained me over the last year, replacing my blood with new cells, regenerating my identity. I also felt a sense of obligation to share my story with three distinct audiences:
The first audience is my family and friends. It is not a secret that I’m not very good at taking time for myself and that I am skilled at filling space where people need space filled. I knew that those who loved me would be worried, that they would want to know how I’m doing. To ease the frequency with which I have to update those who care, writing became a resource for them, helping them understand that I’m okay, or that I’m not.
The second audience is the spouses of those who are transgender. There is this group of people in the universe who have found and will continue to find themselves in a precarious gender identity dance, blindfolded and without an instruction manual. My story is in no way universal of this specific audience, but my hope was that writing about my experience would give others what I so desperately needed when Katie first came out: connection to someone who understood the precariousness of my experience. The balance supporting your loved one and also attending to your own needs is difficult and there is rarely space for both. As you attend to your loved one, you lose yourself. As you attend to yourself, you lose your loved one. To stay connected requires patience and communication unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The community of understanding created by those of you who have reached out to me is truly beautiful and I am so grateful for it. It will never be dissatisfying to know that kindness can exist in the thoughts of a stranger, that you really don’t have to be alone. All you have to do is trust.
The third audience is the general public. I do believe it is only through the education of others that change can take place. If my perspective on this experience remains secret, how can I expect to impact the social norms that are currently stressing my new life? I believe people should read and learn and converse with people like me and Katie with open minds. No person is immune from the responsibility and obligation of compassion. It is so much easier to judge the unknown than expand your own understanding. True wisdom comes in the acceptance that we cannot control what’s going to happen next and we cannot judge how people handle what is given them. All we can do is listen with patience and show empathy.
I decided a long time ago that I wanted to record an interview with Katie for the post I publish on the anniversary of The Outing. This blog is written entirely from my point of view. I do try and give Katie a voice where necessary, but from my own perspective. Readers have informed me several times that my blog is selfish and that I don’t understand what Katie is going through, insinuating that I do not have a right to my feelings. What I believe this opposing perspective lacks is the understanding that Transition, no matter what kind of transition you are experiencing, is selfish. It has to be. How can you transition any part of your life without turning inward? Even what I now view as simple transitions (moving, getting a new job, loss of life, or starting a family) require inward reflection of the self, a strengthening your own understanding of who you are so you can arm yourself and survive with the least damage possible. Gender Transition is no different. What is lost in the opposing perspective is the very idea that gender transition is not solely about the person physically/emotionally/hormonally transitioning, but also about the people in their lives completing their own transition alongside them. As those who support the transgender person work to ensure their needs are met, we also have to grapple with our own needs. I think it’s only fair that I give Katie a chance to explain what this this year has been like for her. So, while on top of Buckhorn Mountain over Labor Day Weekend, I did just that.
It should be noted that throughout the recording, you will hear clicking from many grasshoppers fluttering in and out of the landscape before us. Airplanes fly overhead, quieting our voices a couple times. The wind is our now-credited Third Whispering Character. We both shuffle frequently, readjusting our tired muscles, attempting to get more comfortable as we sat against a rock. You can hear me brushing away lost ants that mistakenly crawled across my legs. I’m also very aware that there are times where I interrupt Katie and cut her off. What can I say? I’m not a professional interviewer. This also became more of a conversation than I intended it to be. Whoops.
All of this said, this post is for Katie. Today marks one year in our new life, a year I could never have dreamed possible when we went on our first date. It is a year I wouldn’t wish on anyone and I am so glad I had her to hold my hand through it. No matter how difficult this year has been for me and for us, I am so grateful I get to know her from this vantage point. I used to not be able to imagine a world without Kyle in it, but now I can’t believe I was in a world with Kyle at all. I wouldn’t take this year back for anything. One year. I really cannot believe it.
For perspective, below is the view during my conversation with Katie. We really live a charmed and magical life.