Living with the Transgendered Husband/mate

At one of our Kappa Beta meetings, the topic of living with a TG spouse came up. Not all the spouses are as supportive; many can't stand it at all. But when this one started with her feelings, I asked her to write them down for this site.


Living with the Transgendered Husband/mate
Thinking outside the box about who your husband/mate is

I am old enough such that I came of age just before the sexual revolution of the sixties and before the women’s liberation movement of the seventies. I was not prepared for an unconventional husband. I had a preconceived idea of the ideal husband that was just as rigid as the fifties version of the ideal woman. Husbands take out the trash at night, they wear suits to work, have short hair, no beards, mow the lawn, and they definitely don’t wear dresses.

Women of my age didn’t work after they got married; they wore dresses to work and pants only to garden. They worked as secretaries, librarians, nurses, and schoolteachers. They weren’t lawyers, doctors and businesswomen hoping to be CEOs. As the women’s lib movement has helped women break through the traditional image of the ideal woman and opened doors to us, men have had to change their ideas of the woman and move over to make room for us in the board room, in the partnership at the law firm and in the senate of the United States. Men not only have changed their attitudes to allow us this freedom to grow and express ourselves, but they have embraced a relationship with us as a partner rather than lord and master.

Then, along comes the man who enjoys cross-dressing or is transgendered and we don’t know how to deal with it. We tell the man “Okay, but keep it in the closet.” “Not around the home,” “I don’t want to see you dressed.” Well, it is a little off the beaten path for us. We weren’t brought up to think of men this way, so we deny that it could be a normal way of expressing their personality, or sexuality, and we don’t want to know about it. We think of it as perverted, or, an illness. I had to stretch my concept of who my husband was. If this has happened to you, ladies, start reading and learning about it.

Women who liked to wear pants like Katherine Hepburn were just comfortable that way. Women who wanted to work and needed to work weren’t trying to emasculate men. Who are the men who like to cross dress? Many of them are fathers and husbands who fulfill the role expected of them. Surprising, many of them have served in uniform as police or servicemen. Many of them are successful alpha males to the outside world. This is a role they play; they have been told by society and women to play it this way. It gets a little heavy sometimes to always carry the burden of problem solver, family provider, and protector. Some men do have another softer side to themselves which they can express freely when they dressing in women’s clothing. Most men don’t know why they do this. They only know that they like doing it. They have as much vanity as women in wanting to be pretty, have a nice figure, and look nice in clothes. Their style runs the whole spectrum that you find among women from the hippies, to the biker girls, to the Talbot’s woman, to the Paris Hilton. Some would have preferred to be a woman. Some feel more natural in the role of woman.

Is this normal? Throw out the idea of normal. It changes every twenty years anyway. Cross-dressing men and women, (yes, they do it, too), have been with society for four thousand years. They exist in every culture and country in the world. This is not a new phenomenon. Without support from their mates or spouses, they are often lonely and confused how to handle this issue in their lives. They all feel that it isn’t just a passing fancy, but part of their lives that they need. “She” is not going away or back into the closet. Some men have tried that and it didn’t work. “She” came back. “She” needed to be out. They are good fathers and companions and providers. They might be more understanding of the desire a woman has to shop and look her best. They might even be more understanding and take on the typical tasks around the house that some men call women’s work. How does it work in my home? I had to create space for two women to share the kitchen. This was a little hard, as I had to give up part of my domain. What I got in return was help with the dishes, cleaning the stove, shopping, and running the household. My husband still handles the repairs around the house, sometimes in heels, sometimes in sneakers. We have had to adjust the marriage some.

In accepting my husband’s alter ego or “her” as part of our lives, I have found that the conversation between the two of us has broadened. There is a deeper intimacy that we can talk about because my partner knows that I will listen and accept what ever comes to mind. It certainly makes it more interesting. In the 15 years of living with a transgendered man, we do have some ground rules.

  1. This is between us, not our extended family and children. We decided that it was hard enough for us to understand this issue. It was definitely beyond the rest of them to cope unless there was a need to know. Some issues are private in a marriage between a couple and are not the business of the rest of the family.
  2. We took a vow when we married to forsake all others and this meant that this is not an excuse to look for extra curricular activities. This does not threaten my exclusive relationship to my husband and he is not looking for sexual fulfillment outside the marriage. In some ways I have become bolder and more creative in love making to not always put the responsibility upon the man. This works for both us and actually adds variety and excitement to the marriage.
  3. I had to ask the question when “She” came into our life, “Are you a woman looking for a man or are you a woman who wants other women?” It took a little thinking on her part to answer that she was not looking for outside activity. I concluded that this was not a threat to our marriage.

Sometimes I have a girl friend to pal around with, sometimes my husband. I help her with her make up and shopping and putting together an outfit. If she was going to dress, I wanted her to be pleased with the way she looked. I have encouraged her with her hairstyles and in buying a good-looking wig. I made an appointment for her to get her make up professionally done by a make up artist so she could see herself as beautiful. I still have a husband for those times when socially I am expected to have a husband. We also have friends in the transgendered community who we both like and socialize with. I have found all the ladies very interesting, compassionate, intelligent and with a good sense of humor. Many are from service ranks, many are from the professional ranks, and many are from blue-collar ranks. We have honest conversations about the issues, not superficial bar room conversations. Some of them are church oriented and conservative some as liberal as Barney Frank.

So, ladies, as the women’s lib movement allowed us freedom to pursue who we wanted to be, don’t put men in a box. Grant these men the same freedom to express and be who they want to be. Let go of your rigid ideas of masculinity and what a husband/mate should be and embrace who they actually are. Your mate will love you dearly if you can accept, embrace, and enjoy “her.” It is a complicated issue and you do need to explore this to see where you and your mate fall into the broad spectrum of the transgendered world. But, know that some of us have been married to a transgendered person, and love our mates dearly for the person they are, and couldn’t see our life without them.