Sunday, 5 December 2010

How does a closet trans person end up married?

    When my wife told her mother about me earlier this year her first reaction was astonishment and anger: how could I possibly marry her daughter if I knew I was like this? A perfectly natural reaction. Fortunately my mother-in-law is a very sensible lady and once my wife had explained that not only had I really figured all this out in the years since we were married, but I was also doing everything I could to hang in there for her, her mother changed her position. I don't think she's ecstatic about it, but she's still there for both of us. Not for the first time I feel lucky in those around me.
    More recently I've detected a different attitude from some sections of our own community, an idea that goes something like this: married people like me are simply closet gay men who play the field when they are younger before allowing themselves to fantasise about being a woman themselves in order to justify sleeping with men, not really caring about the heartache they cause to their spouses.
    As you might expect, I find the first upsetting and the second downright offensive.
    But it is an extremely valid thing to examine; how does someone who has had something of the girl about them for so long end up married? I can only answer from experience.
    I think the key to it all is how you interpret what you see. When I was a very young child I wanted to be a girl. Whenever I could get away with it I dressed like one and since I grew up in an isolated part of the countryside and had two sisters, my playmates were mostly girls and I played largely in a girlish frame of mind. We made houses in our hedgerows, not forts.
    But I never made the step into believing that I was a girl. I have always had a very empirical approach to life and the evidence in front of me said very clearly that I was a little boy. I never lost the desire to be female or wear female clothing as I grew up, but as time went by the real-world evidence that said "Boy" just got stronger. As a teenager I wondered whether I might be gay, a thought that was dispelled pretty quickly a few years later at university when I encountered openly gay people for the first time. Great bunch of lads, just nothing like me. Meanwhile the experience of a rather backward traditional British boys' school had forced me very deep into the closet and I'd tentatively identified myself as being a transvestite.
    So there I was aged about twenty, a spotty geeky student. Clinically depressed and convinced I was a bloke with an unusually active but heavily suppressed female side. All my contemporaries were womanising to their heart's content or at least to the best of their abilities, but I wasn't. Not from lack of trying, or from lack of female friends, just that I had no success whatsoever in that department. I still count quite a few of my female contemporaries from that period among my close friends so I must have been doing something right, but I was far more likely to be supplying chocolate and hankies when they broke up with boyfriends than I ever was to climb into bed with them. Not so bad in a way, at least I never left a trail of wreckage behind like some of my friends did.
    Thus I became an adult without figuring out any of this and certainly without any womanising whatsoever. If you'd asked me about my gender identity I'd have said "Bloke" and wild horses wouldn't have dragged from me the fact that I had a girl side or an eye for female clothing.
    I doubt you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I cross-dressed during my twenties. But oh how I wanted to! No more luck with relationships, to put it in simple terms I didn't have a clue. I lived on a boat, rode a motorcycle, drove a dodgy old van and I worked in one of the cooler though more turbulent corners of the media business. Believe it or not, people told me they envied me. I should have told them what a panic attack was.
    I met my wife when I was nearly thirty and fell head-over-heels. Later than all my contemporaries, we were the last of my group to get married when we did so a few years later. There's no bloke myth to shatter, she was my first and only girlfriend. As far as I knew my crossdressing was something I'd conquered and dealt with, it wasn't a problem. I could move forward and marry her and live happily ever after.
    If I'd known back then the full extent to which all this would develop I don't think it would have changed my feelings towards my then-fiancée. I would most certainly have told her all about it and though I haven't asked her I suspect we might have parted company as a result. I would have been heartbroken, but at least I'd have saved her all this.
    So there you are. That's how a closet trans person ends up married. No subterfuge, no concealed gayness. Nothing to be proud of either.


  1. Plus minus a very familiar tale...


  2. ah... so, taught to believe the physical, rather than being allowed to fully trust the inner experience that says, Girl. Except you are now trusting that, so for me, that is a reason to be proud of yourself, now, for coming to that trust.

  3. All I can say is "ditto".

    Thanks for sharing this, Jenny.

    Calie xxx

  4. My experience mirrors yours very closely, except that I took the plunge with my first and only girlfriend right out of high school. I'm sure that revealing my truths before marrying would've been a dealbreaker, but, like you, I thought it would be conquered. Ha, foolish mortals...

    Great piece.

  5. Indeed Jenny, This is an all to familiar narrative. I am wndering if a theory advanced in the follwing link, (IE the reduction of testosterone that comes with middle age) might have some bearing.

    Here is a brief exerpt...

    "The psychological community which deals with the transgendered has a set of guidelines they use... after generations and generations of transgendered folk were studied and analyzed, they came up with this age formula... the typical transsexual begins the transition from male to female between ages 38 and 40, add approximately 2.5 years for every child she has.

    Why does this formula work, and why is it so accurate? Listen closely young ones... many things happen to you as you approach age 40. One of the biggest is that your body seriously begins to decrease its output of testosterone. This is serious business, hon, without testosterone, you no longer can do all those things that overcompensated for your female side... sports decline, sexual appetite for women declines, you stop working out, you stop feeling like a man, and you stop feeling that you should continue to act like a man. And your feminine side explodes in the vacuum left behind. You dress more often, you take more chances, you buy more clothes, you see more men... you become more of a woman, physically, mentally, spiritually, and sexually. The stop-gap measure you have been hiding behind for so many years simply disappears... you are in trouble. But there is more.

  6. My story is amazingly similar too, just one or two differences, one of those was that I really did want to be a woman from a cer early age. I consequently was very much surprised that I ended up getting married. It's a denial thing and it never goes away. We simply have to deal with it according to our own circumstances.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. In many ways a similar story of mine, I thought that those feelings could be denyed and forgotten. Silly me! A good post Jenny.

    Hugs, Elly

  8. I started collecting the lines used in the above are so me, but let's just add me to the 'ditto' crowd!

    Great post Jenny.


  9. Thanks all, we're all individuals, 'cept we're not.

    I think Josie says it most succinctly.

    I never gave up wanting to be a woman, all that changed was the realisation that I was some of the way there already.

  10. ...and thanks to Blogger's spam filter, Anne comes late to the party.

    You're right, I'd come to the conclusion that falling T levels made
    the lie less easy to maintain. How long can I hang on? As long as it takes, Mrs. J's worth it. One year at a time.
    Middle aged? I always considered myself to be immortal. :)

  11. Wow, does that ever sound familiar. The only thing I would add is that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I think there was some hope that 'love' would cure me.

    It did . . . for a little while. I was able to put aside the real me for several years, but looking back I can see how it created distance in my marriage. With such a big secret looming, I could never really open up or share my feelings, because I might let something telling slip.

  12. The one thing I think I got right was not to let it be a secret between me and Mrs. J. As I came to understand it all, I told her along the way. But I'm worried it's still creating distance in our marriage, even without the secret. Have to keep trying.

  13. Your final line was something I thought worthy of note - mainly because I don't believe it. I have had the good fortune to stumble upon your blog and have spent a lazy day reading. Your posts strike many chords with me but the one that I struggle with is that there is 'nothing to be proud off'. Sure your wife would have had a different life if you hadn't been around but whose to say it would have been better. She clearly wants to be with you otherwise she would have left. You strike me as a caring and loving person and I think the fact that you are still together, despite the challenges you face, is something to be most proud about.

  14. All true, yes.

    I guess I still don't feel too proud of the stress I've caused her, which has been considerable.

  15. I can't tell you the number of times I have apologised to my wife. She tells me in return that I need to stop apologising for something that is not my fault and self flagellation helps neither her nor me.

    I am not suggesting that you are in this cycle - but I know I can be that hamster on the wheel sometimes.

    Guilt is such a heavy burden to carry and it can weigh heavily on your life. I recognise that to enable me to come to terms with being me, and still find contentment, I need to leave the guilt behind. I hope you can too

  16. I am definitely very much in that position too. Can't leave it behind that easily, sadly.