February 19, 2014

Why Every Crossdresser Must Tell His Wife The Truth (2014 Edition)

A year ago I wrote a post called “Why Every Crossdresser Must Tell His Wife The Truth.” It was my narrative of the day I came out, fully and completely, to my then-wife. [It was also, truth be told, the day that I first admitted to myself that I was probably more than just a crossdresser, but that’s not the point of the original post.] That post was mostly my story, but it ended with this word of advice to other crossdressers out there dealing with the spouse situation:

For those newbies who come after me, who are struggling with similar situations: this is not easy. Do not fool yourself into thinking it is, But if this is you, authentically you, then it’s necessary. Even if it hurts, even if it puts your relationship at risk. If you love her, then you owe her the truth.

Since being published, that post has consistently been my most popular post. Every week, the post gets dozens of hits; some weeks it gets more page views than the new posts I put up that week! And a cursory glance at the site’s search terms tells me why.

      • crossdressing wife support
      • crossdressing and my wife
      • crossdressing and marriage
      • how to tell my wife i’m a crossdresser 
      • how to start crossdressing without my wife finding out 
      • i am the wife of a crossdresser
      • crossdresser with wife 
      • crossdressing and my wife
      • my husband is a crossdresser
      • why my husband crosdresses
      • will my wife accept my crossdressing 
      • telling my wife i crossdress
      • coming out to wife
      • husband came out crossdresser

I am still a little surprised at how much that part of my narrative has resonated with people. But looking back at everything I’ve experienced and everyone I’ve met in the last crazy year of this transition, I shouldn’t be. Marriage seems to be a common thread connecting those who identify as male crossdressers, especially those in my generation  (Generation X) and older. Under the broad umbrellas of gender expression and identity, that moment where a person labels themselves a male crossdresser is a most difficult time, and likely to be the time when many people are struggling with doubts about who they are and what is appropriate and what she will think. And at some point, if that marriage survives long enough, we have to face that moment where we are either discovered or where we can’t stand to keep the secret anymore.

I don’t know how many visitors to that post go on to read about what happened to my marriage, about how I ultimately lost my wife in part because of that revelation. But I hope that if they do, it doesn’t discourage them from taking that step and telling their wife the truth. At the end of the day, not telling the truth for all those years is part of what nearly ruined me and definitely helped to ruin my marriage. By telling her, there was the possibility that I would lose her; but by not telling her for so long, I guaranteed that I would lose here.

Does that mean that telling the wife was ultimately a lose-lose situation? That depends on how I choose to view the situation. In terms of losing my marriage, yes. But in terms of losing myself — no, telling her wasn’t a lose-lose situation. In fact, looking at things a year later, the divorce was practically a win-win. My now-ex found a man who treats her better than I did, who makes her happy, and who makes her feel like a valued woman. Meanwhile, I have found myself — my Self, honest and truly — and I am a happier, better adjusted person today than I was when I had that conversation with my wife a year ago.

My guess is that a lot of the people who find the original post are looking for a way to fix things, to make things the way they were before he told me or to make it so that she loves me after I tell her. And honestly, there’s a fair chance that isn’t going to happen. For every crossdresser or transwoman out there who comes out to their wife and keeps their marriage, there are many who come out to their wives and lose the one they love.

Coming out is scary, and the odds are stacked against us. But the other option is living a lie, and it’s the stress and pressure of living a lie that so often ruins our relationships anyway. I know it ruined mine, and there have been several times in the last year when I’ve wondered: what if I’d told her sooner? What if I hadn’t waited until the damage was done? It’s a question I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

One final note: I know that this whole thought is coming, in many ways, from a “straight cis male” perspective and that there are crossdressers, transfolk, and other gender-nonconforming individuals out there who are also struggling with telling their spouses of many gender expressions and sexual orientations. I am specifically writing with a specific group in mind here, but I think that what I’ve said here holds true for any relationship regardless of the gender or sexuality of the individuals involved. No relationship thrives for long when it’s built on lies.


  • I came out to my wife last year and your blog was one of the first things she had read. It helped her understand but it raised a lot of questions as well. I am glad she found your blog and I’ve been following religiously. We are currently still in the stage of don’t ask don’t tell and I don’t where it will go from there. I can say without a doubt you should be upfront with the one you love otherwise it will ruin your relationship. I didn’t and don’t know if it was because I didn’t know what I was at the time or the embarrassment or the fact I was sure I would lose her. I would’ve been better off telling her years ago only then could she have made a real decision as to be with me. Instead I feel like she believes she is stuck and it hurts me to know that she feels this way. Much love to you and keep writing I really have learned a lot through your blogs.

    • Thank you, Honest CD, for sharing your experience and for the kind words. I can certainly relate to your thoughts about “Why didn’t I tell her sooner?” I think the only sincere answer to that question is “Because it wasn’t time to tell her yet.” It’s not a satisfying answer, but it’s the only answer I’ve found.

  • What you are saying is probably very true but the one thing that I could never share with my wife or anyone else was that I loved to secretly dress up in women’s lingerie and sometimes a dress or skirt from the time I was a teenager until after I came out publicly and to my wife, who was then fighting a losing battle with terminal cancer that took her life less than a year later. There were many close calls where I was almost caught in the act when she would come home unexpectedly and I don’t believe she ever suspected my little secret, although my brother and his new bride discovered “some funny lumps” under my mattress when they were given my bed in which to sleep during a visit to the home I shared with my parents and sister until I moved out on my own after college. Those ‘funny lumps” included a bra stuffed with socks and a pair of panties. I said I didn’t want to talk about it and the subject was never brought up again. When I got married, I thought my habit would stop but after a year or so, as sexual contact with my wife became less frequent, I resumed my fantasy of being a woman taken by a man, ala James Bond, where I was the Bond girl. It contributed greatly to our estrangement where I would choose to stay home rather than enjoy her company whenever she offered it. While I will always regret until the day I die that I could never confide in her, her illness and subsequent passing along with our living apart for those 20 some months and my miraculous bi-lateral hip replacement surgery, were major catalysts to finally living out in the open. It was a posthumous legacy about which neither of us knew during her lifetime in the form of a lump-sum payment of a small pension I received as her surviving husband, made the completion of my transition a reality, something I always believed would be the case.

    • Each situation is unique, of course, and I’m glad that you were able to keep a fulfilling relationship with your wife despite your secret. That’s a strength of character I was unable to muster in my marriage.

      • Actually my relationship with my wife was not all that fulfilling after about 15 years but at least I remained committed to her “til death do us part” as she did with me, a strength both of us shared with each other after which we committed our lives to each other “for better or worse.” It was when we were separated and her prognosis for survival was getting slimmer by the week, that I had the courage to fulfill my lifelong dream, with her blessing. That was her parting gift to me despite the fact that her cancer had taken away most of her cognitive and rational abilities. When she was close to death and could not speak, her hospice nurse handed me a small jewelry bag with a tiny bunny and turtle, our pet names for each other along with a printed copy of “The Rose Ceremony” performed by our minister after we were pronounced husband and wife 32 years before. That was her way of telling me that despite everything, all was forgiven and she could now depart in peace.

  • I recently found out my boyfriend is a crossdresser but he has not revealed this to me. He does have a low sex drive which I thought meant he was not attracted to me but now I think he is just more aroused by being in feminine clothes. I don’t know how to bring it up but I want him to know it isn’t a deal breaker for me so long as he isn’t gay or bi and I would support him.

    • It’s common to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation, but they are not the same. There are straight crossdressers, gay crossdressers, bisexual crossdressers, pansexual crossdressers … in other words, one in no way implies the other. They are independent variables. [I’m also not sure why being bisexual would be an issue; so long as he’s into you, who would care if he occasionally thought a guy was cute?]

      As for the main thrust of the questions: the answer is that you *don’t* bring it up. Trust me when I say that, if he is harboring this secret, there’s a reason he hasn’t told you yet. Confronting him with your knowledge of it before he’s ready to tell you will likely damage the relationship you have. It’s good that you’re okay with it. And it you’re okay with it, just be ready to tell him that *when he brings it to you*.

      • I understand that confronting him with it could damage the relationship but I’m not sure I can live with it being a secret. I can’t pretend not to know for long and that is already damaging the relationship because I wear my emotions on my face. He is very intune with the fact that something is bothering me and keeps asking me what it is. May I ask, is it possible that it is more exciting to him to keep it a secret or more likely that he just doesn’t feel that level of trust with me yet?

        • That’s impossible to say for sure, but it’s far more likely that shame is a factor than thrill. Most crossdressers know that there’s a lot of negative stereotypes attached to the practice, and they’re afraid of the consequences of exposure.

  • I just found out my husband is a cross dresser. I discovered by accident last night. He doesn’t know that I know. I’ve been crying all day. I’m not sure how, or if, I should broach it with him. I discovered he’s been buying outfits from ebay, and contacting cross dressing men on craigslist.
    I’m in shock. I don’t know what to do. We’ve been together for 14 years.
    I want to know if it’s my fault. If our sex life had been better, would he still have done this?
    I don’t feel particularly supportive at the moment, but that might change. I mostly feel betrayed.
    I think I’m too old to start again.

    • “I want to know if it’s my fault. If our sex life had been better, would he still have done this?”

      I obviously don’t know anything about your story apart from the little you’ve told here, but I can almost guarantee you the answer is “No, it’s not your fault and no, your sex life had nothing to do with it.” Being trans is not about sexuality; it is about identity. Cross dressing, while not exactly “being trans”, is likewise more complicated that just “if we’d had better sex he wouldn’t be this way.” He was this way before he met you; he would continue to be this way even if you had magnificent sex nightly.

    • I’m not sure what you’re seeing on your screen, but the comment was approved and replied to a month ago.

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