February 20, 2013

My Wife Is A Wonderful Person

Despite all my worry and quoting of dreary poetry, my world did not end when I got home last night. My wife had a PTA meeting to attend, my youngest had been throwing up all day, and my oldest had crashed the computer (again!), so I hugged my wife on her way out the door and took over parenting duties for the evening. It was almost disappointingly normal.

It wasn’t until after she got home and the kids were in bed that I had the chance to broach “the subject” again. The therapist I’ve been seeing the last few weeks had been encouraging me to “build a support structure” to “get me through my time of transition” — in other words, find some people I could talk openly to, face-to-face, about my dressing. I don’t even have many standard friends, let alone any I’m willing to confide in right now. But there’s a pretty active LGBT community in a city nearby, and I knew that if I went looking I’d find something, and yesterday I finally did it. And since my new policy is to keep nothing from my wife, I wanted to tell her about it. 

I opened with, “I, um … I need Saturday night. Is it okay if I have Saturday night?”

She shrugged. “Sure, I don’t have any plans. Just this Saturday, or every Saturday?”

“Not sure yet.”

“Why? You going gaming?”

Tabletop gaming is a hobby of mine. Or, at least, it used to be; I haven’t really played in almost a year, after the last group I met regularly with broke up. So she was assuming that’s where I was going — to the gaming store to play. Oh, boy …

“Um, no,” I said … and suddenly felt really self-conscious and ashamed. The horrible, irrational way my mind was thinking in the moment was, You’re about to tell her you’re abandoning her on a Saturday night to go hang out with other lady-men! No wonder she wants to leave you! It was an utterly biased, self-sabotaging thought, but it strangled me. “Just nevermind,” I said, and mentally abandoned the idea of going to the meeting. After all, this shit ain’t right, right? It needs to stay hidden.

But my wife is not stupid. Also, she can read me like a book. “No, what is it? If there’s something you want to do, you should do it. What is it?”

And so I choked down my negative feelings and I told her. It was odd to verbalize some of it — that I was going to an LGBT support center [wait, I’m LGBT now?!] and there was a support group there; that I would be meeting with other men who like to dress, some of them full-time, some of them maybe even on HRT or contemplating SRS. It was uncomfortable — I’m not sure when I’ll ever stop being uncomfortable talking to my wife about these things — but I explained to her that it was therapist recommended, like that was a shield against it being weird.

“She’s right,” said my wife, who was not at all phased. “You should go. You need people to talk to. How often do they get together?”

“Weekly. But I’m jut going to one meeting. I don’t even know if I’ll like it.”

“You will,” she said knowingly. “You need it. Just remember that we have plans on the 9th.”

Her reaction actually caught me off guard. It was so casual, so normal. It was like I hadn’t just told her that I was abandoning her on a Saturday night to go hang out with a bunch of lady-men! All my anxiety about telling her had been misguided. She is a loving and understanding soul, and she knows the LGBT community, and she knew exactly why I needed to attend this meeting. She got it.

And then she asked. “Are you going ‘dressed’?”

Holy crap, did that put the brakes on the conversation. My wife and I have discussed my feelings, but we hadn’t talked about, you know, actual dressing. That was not a question I was expecting. I think I visibly squirmed in my seat with discomfort. “What? No. I can’t … I mean, I’m not … No. No. I’m just going.”

“Why not?”

Squirming. “Because! I’m … you know. Fat and lanky, and I totally do not pass.”

“I’m sure you won’t be the only one there who’s big or tall or wouldn’t pass. That’s not what this meeting’s for, is it?”

“No, but — ”

“I bet you’d be more comfortable.”

Really squirming now. “No.”

“Is it about getting ready in front of me and the kids? You wouldn’t have to do it here. You could go somewhere else. I’m sure they’ve had people use the bathrooms there to get dressed before.”

“No! I’m not ready to go out the front door, okay?”

“You could wear a coat when you go out. No one will notice under a coat. Not in the dark.”

I sighed. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but … no. Not going to happen.”

My wife can be tenacious when she gets an idea in her head. “What about just bringing a top you like? Or some lipstick in your pocket? You don’t have to put it on here. You could do it in the car.”

“What? No, that would be … ” I almost said weird, but given the context of the conversation it felt like a silly judgment.

“Well, I think you should. You’d probably be happier that way.”


“I think you’re going to get there and regret not doing it. I think you’ll go dressed next time.”

“I don’t even know if there’s going to be a next time.”

She smiled. “There will be.”

So that’s my wife, folks. The woman I fell in love with, married, and then treated terribly for over a decade as I fought against my own insecurities. She’s actually concerned about how I’ll feel if I don’t go to the meeting en femme. Here I was, afraid of skeeving her out even bringing it up, and all she cared about was my comfort. I am a lucky man.

Now, I just need to decide if she’s right …

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  • Ali,

    Since we’ve been in “poetic mode” in some of our posts and comments lately, may I suggest that you weigh the following sentiment ascribed historically (and I think falsely) to William Shakespeare — “To thine own self be true….” Less poetically, examine what your own “gut” is telling you…ALL of the “you’s,” if you’re feeling less than integrated!

    There is no right or wrong in this “to dress or not to dress” situation, only the consideration of your comfort level. The others in the meeting will be accepting and understanding even if you show up in a camouflage-pattern tutu! Be comfortable. All else will follow.

    Have a blast…then let us know all about the meeting……..AND what you wore!

    Footnote: Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, gets my vote in the “authorship” controversy. **grin**



      • And I…an unrepentant Oxfordian. Together we sound like a pair of mismatched and misnamed shoes! I will make no attempt to convert you since you have identified with “true” Stratfordians as opposed to the throng of unwashed “false” ones who bite rather than merely “Grrrr”! **grin**

        With All Respect,

        Randa Lane

  • Ali,

    I would like to share a few thoughts, if I may. You are taking your first steps on what is going to be a long road. This isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. There is no need to rush things, take each step as you must.

    I had many of the same thoughts, the same fears before I stepped out of the door for the first time. Many others have done the same. It is understandable and it is normal.

    On a different note…

    You speak of going to a support meeting. This is an important step. Having the chance to meet others who can understand what you are going through will make a huge difference for you.

    What concerns me is your assumptions about who you will meet there. More to the point, your belief they are going to be “other men” or worse yet, “lady-men.” Why I see this as an issue is because you admit some of the people will be “full time” or on HRT, or even have completed GRS (SRS). I understand you are still searching for understanding of yourself, your wants, and needs. It may be you will begin and end with cross dressing, it may be you will always see yourself as male. There are many others like yourself out there and there is nothing wrong with that.


    You are going to meet individuals who, though assigned male at birth, are female. These are the people who are “full time”, who are on HRT, and certainly those who have undergone GRS. Going into any meeting assuming these are “males playing dress up” is going to cause issues. For them, this isn’t a game. It isn’t make believe. This is who they are.

    I can speak to this because, though I still live much of my life presenting as male, I am a woman. Like some of those you will meet, I was born with the wrong reproductive system and was forced to live a life which conflicted with this reality. Much of the time I still present mostly as a male, but that does not reflect my reality. When I do “dress” I am not putting on a costume. I am not playing a part. I am not acting. I am presenting as who and what I am, a woman. I know there are those in the world who see me as you have described here, as “male”, a “lady-man”, a “man in a dress” and it is very painful to know this. I am sure it is the same for many, many others.

    I only ask you to consider these things when you meet others like myself, I am sure you would appreciate the same consideration.


    Kira Moore

    • Kira, thank you for taking the time to write that. You’re absolutely right about the need to be careful and considerate when applying gendered language in the trans community It’s something that I’m aware of, but I’m still getting used to the particulars.

      I would like to offer up a defense of my use of term “lady-men” in this post. I write these life experience posts in a narrative format, not an informative one. The goal is to place the reader “in the moment,” to in some ay experience it as I was experiencing it when it happened.

      If you look at the context of the “lady-men” line, it’s a reflection of the irrational discomfort I was feeling in that moment. It is literally a reflection of my own shame, which had welled up in that moment when I tried to talk to my wife. I refer to them as “other lady-men” because in that moment *I was a lady-man too* in my own mind, and I was ashamed of myself. It wasn’t a fine mental moment, but it was how I was feeling at the time. I was hoping to help the reader feel it as I was feeling it.

      I will try to be more careful with how I represent these thoughts and use my pronouns in the future.

      • Ali,

        I understand the desire to bring a reader into your head, it can be so overwhelming, so chaotic, and too often lonely. All you want is for someone to connect to.

        My issue with the “lady-man” reference was not so much your writing about it, but that we live in a society where this sort of description is accepted and understood. Where being Trans* is seen as strange and deviant. Where we are seen as sad, confused individuals worthy of ridicule. It wasn’t your thinking in such a manor, but that you should do so without hesitation.

        I’m not an expert on Trans* issues, I’m just one person who talks about her own experiences, but I can say one of hardest things to deal with is knowing how others think about Trans* people and how they would react if they knew about me. Much of that thinking comes from ignorance and prejudice. It comes from a lifetime of being told that gender is a binary and anyone who doesn’t agree is confused, sick, deluded, or a pervert.

        Such thinking has a terrible price and I hope for the day when no one will have to pay.

        • I agree that such thinking should have no part to play in the world. Part of my problem is that they’re still playing a part *in myself*. Strange, deviant, sad, confused … these are still things that lurk beneath my own surface. I’m doing everything I can to scrub them away, but I’ve got 37 years of conditioning to undo.

          When I go to this support meeting on Saturday, it will literally be the first time I’ve been around a group of trans women, *ever*. I’ve known one trans woman in my adult life; she was someone I used to play D&D with a couple years ago, and as we were gaming friends and not social friends I never held even a short conversation with her about it. The only two people in RL I’ve shared this with are my wife and my therapist, both of whom are sympathetic but neither of whom have experienced it. I need to talk to someone face-to-face. I am hoping to come out of this meeting much more enlightened than I’m going into it.

          Kira, your comments have given me a lot to think about as I head into this first meeting. Thanks again for taking the time to share.

          • I’m glad we had a chance to talk, even though it has been through written words alone, it is always special to share with someone who “gets it.”

            I wish you luck going to your meeting, I hope it helps as much as I believe it will. I look forward to reading all about it. 🙂

  • Ali ~

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had similar experiences and feelings… not the reaction but how I felt when I’d talk about dressing or going out dressed.

    It gets easier but, for me, never comfortable. The hardest t-times for me were when I would try to talk to my wife about it.

    Your wife may have decided dressing is OK. She might even decide she enjoys it and will help. Or she might decide it’s stupid to lose you to the “other woman.” Be vigilant. It’ll pay off.

    And “keep nothing from your wife” is a Really Good Idea. My wife ALWAYS knew when I was going to be dressing and where I was going. No secrets, no lies.

    • As you can see from my last post, “Keep nothing from my wife” is definitely, for the first time in my life, my mantra. It’s weird; I feel closer to her now for having shared everything than I did for all those years I didn’t.

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