This is originally an e-mail I wrote to a new friend online. She is also a transgender woman in the west coast of USA with much the same struggles as I have, and after writing this, I feel compelled to expand on my original message, and to clarify some of my thoughts. I asked for her permission to post this on my blog and she gave it to me. Here’s the final product:
There is much to be thankful for when you and your wife are close, and that you two spend a lot of time together. It is something to be cherished. I too have to be thankful for that very reason.
Being open to my wife about this whole TG issue is no easy task. At best, I can only offer you my personal experience of dealing with it. While many t-girl friends will disagree, I hold the view that my being TG is my very own mental affliction, and that life would be considerably less complicated if it would “just go away”. Unfortunately it is also something I cannot change. And I have been very honest with my wife about that. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, when dealing with TG issues, I often turn to my Christian faith for guidance. There is a relevant passage in the Bible that has been a great comfort to me:
Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness….To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 11:29,30, 12:7-10)
God’s grace is sufficient, especially in my weaknesses. In light of that, my wife and I have been quite honest to each other about our struggles and confusions, and we particularly want to turn this situation of mine into something that can strengthen others, instead of focusing on whether I dress or not dress. (By the way, I did grow up in a family of theologians and preachers, so it should not be a surprise that I turn to Christianity.)
In that sense, faith took away the burden of having to worry about what is the best balance between time as Kate, “boy mode” and time with my wife. Right now, I am not focused on how frequently I should be Kate vs. boy mode. The choice for me, is whatever is more loving (biblically speaking of course) at the time; and what allows me to strengthen someone else. There was a time when I didn’t have to balance time I spent as Kate vs. boy mode. It was simple: it was whatever I felt like. I was working on my PhD and a lot of work was done at home, so I can be a boy or a girl as I pleased. I chose girl mode quite a lot more often but that’s besides the point. Now that I am married, and my job requires me to be at the office everyday, it’s more boy than girl. I too have found that in the past couple of years I haven’t been as eager to go into “girl mode” as I used to, and I’m completely okay with it too. I’m not sure if the balance will shift in the future, but I’m sure that it’s not something I’m worried about now.
One of the advantage of living in Toronto is that the trans community is quite large, and a person can quite easily find acceptance here. For my part, most of my friends who know me as Kate are themselves either crossdressers or transsexuals. I find most of my crossdresser friends start gathering together when they first go down this path, but then disperse a little bit once they gain some confidence. Only 3 of my friends who know me in my “boy mode” also know me as Kate. One of them went through a tough time because her younger sibling was preparing for gender reassignment, and I felt that I can help the situation if I had made Kate known to her. (She was a hippie girl at heart, and took it well.) I can, however, see the difficulties with telling my existing friends about Kate, especially in light of some of the prejudices that they have, mostly relating being “transgender” to being “homosexual”, which is often far from the truth. Ironically, the people that have given me the most grieve are my fellow Christians, for whom I constantly apologize…
If there is to be any advice, I say that you should seek a TG support group/club in town where people can just hang out. You can find TG-friendly bars and clubs, but it’s the company that’s important.
I look forward to hearing from you again.