Thursday, 18 February 2021

More steps in trans living 4: coming out to lovers

Perhaps appropriate just after Valentine's Day...

Spending time in one's preferred gender inevitably leads to a double life, certainly early on in one's development, and I don't like that. How about my female life becoming ...just life, the life, the one and only life? Should one come out to others and integrate femme time with the rest of one's time? 

Obviously, that depends on your situation. Whether you are married and/or have children, want to work in your preferred gender or both, have parents and siblings, have friends you want to integrate into what has up to now been your 'other' life, really depends on whether you feel this will enhance your relationship. I don't propose to go into the subject generally here as it's long and complex, but continuing this series on my own personal steps in trans living, I will talk briefly about how I came out to partners about being trans.

Back in 1997 I vowed I would no longer deny that I was trans (Those biggest resolutions) and that therefore any romantic partner needed to know. I find the best moment to raise the subject is after a few weeks of dating when things seem to be going well. Coming out on a first date is not the best plan, in my view, but on the other hand I do not want to end up deep in a relationship and then find that my being trans is a sudden surprise and causes grave tensions. If my new love has a major problem and wants to walk away then raising the subject very early on is a time when no-one gets too emotionally hurt. As I've said before, nature can be cruel because often in our early twenties we want to suppress our transness, marry, raise families, only to find that our gender variance bursts out again with a vengeance twenty years later, leaving us to square the re-emergence of a status we thought we'd overcome with our startled spouse and children. It can be a shock to them after all that time to find that dad is really a lady, that the man or woman you married is anything but. As I say, nature is cruel in diminishing our trans fervour at breeding time but leaving a hormonal time-bomb to explode later. This is a subject to expand on again another time.

In my own case, very shortly after I first went to a dressing service, I got into a long-term relationship. We almost married, in fact. After a few weeks of dating I thought that it was going really well but that she needed to know that I was trans and that I was no longer able to suppress that side of me. I thought she would be receptive as we had first met a few weeks before we got romantically involved, and in a circle with other friends she had said how she had once shared accommodation with two gay guys, one of whom crossdressed, and how she had another friend who was a drag queen and she had attended his inauguration into the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a sort of drag nun protest performance group). So I assumed she would be receptive enough.

When to broach the subject? About six weeks together and she told me that she had been chatting to a friend recently who had married two years before. Her husband was now wearing her panties. When the wife asked him why, he said that "it was so they could feel closer together".

Now there are lots of reasons why a man might wear his wife's panties, but I suspect his reason was false, and I suspect you think so, too. Was he trans? Perhaps. Was he kinky? Perhaps. Does he simply prefer the look or feel of women's undies? Perhaps; some men do and there's nothing more to it than that. We don't know his real motives.

My girlfriend then said to me, "I advised her to leave him immediately. You wouldn't do that, would you?" Although I didn't like the sound of that, this was my cue and I came straight out with it that I was trans, that I express my female side by dressing as a woman, I told her my trans history, even that I had just been to a dressing service shortly before we met, hence my stubbly leg hair that was just growing back after shaving it for the photoshoot. I also said I was surprised at her suggestion to her friend, given that she was previously happy with her cross-dressing gay housemate and drag artist friend.

But for her and many others, being friends and being girlfriends are two different things. It was "I'm fine with the whole trans idea in principle, but not in my back yard... I'm not a lesbian... How can I possibly tell my friends that my boyfriend's a tranny?" And similar.

She didn't follow her own precept and walk out there and then but nor did she want to talk about the subject further, as if it would somehow go away. But when she wanted to talk about marriage or living together, I kept having to raise it. So, you want to live with a trans person who will need to dress and be femme regularly. How do you want to play it? And there would be tears and a wish it would go away or that I could be 'cured' by her buying me silk boxers because, despite my best efforts to clarify why some people are trans, she thought that maybe I just liked the feel of softer cloth. 

In the end I broke off with her for reasons unconnected with my being trans, but with the issue unresolved. So you see, despite this notion that trans people are politically permissible but personally undesirable, despite her own prejudices and precepts, she stuck with me after my early revelation but never wanted to face the practical reality.

There's one curious addition to this tale. Like most modern women, she wore trousers more than skirts but, unusually, she wore men's shirts as she found them more comfortable than women's tops. Usually a lumberjack style, which is interesting as her uncle really was a lumberjack (though not, as far as I know, a crossdressing one as in a famous Monty Python song, although a great uncle of hers was a known crossdresser). I digress, but it goes to show how women can wear what they like with no comment but if a man wears a blouse then he can expect endless comments and abuse. Admittedly, her crossdressing motives and mine were different.

That was in the mid-2000s. In 2010, right as my trans life outdoors was getting into its swing, I started dating another girl. We'd been friends for some years and have remained friends. It was probably not a good idea to introduce something romantic at that time of my life but Cupid is a little teaser and he's always ready to act at the wrong moment. A few weeks into our relationship, the Rocky Horror Show came to town. Again, a perfect cue as, naturally, a bit of dressing up is encouraged when the show's on. But it became clear that my turning up as Magenta the Maid wasn't desirable. (NB no, I wasn't going to go as Frank N Furter, I have standards you know!)

Here I became uneasy and as this girl is a gossip (not a nasty one; she just can't be discreet!) I didn't pursue the trans subject much beyond crossdressing possibilities and, given the strong need I had at that time to be myself as much as possible, things petered out romantically and soon after this she got back together with a guy she'd been with in her teens who was a fireman and was altogether the sort of hunky, manly guy she was after and who is good for her. As I said, we've remained good friends and she suspects I'm only an occasional party crossdresser, and it's best left like that.

It was a similar story with someone else after that. She enjoyed drag shows and also had an especial enthusiasm for the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert stage show but, again, performance art and transgender life are two different things (as most people actually know despite what a lot of trans activists fear). I think: "ah, here's someone who will be receptive," and then find that their romantic enthusiam is somewhat dampened when their ideal of manliness is challenged.

So, being trans can be a hindrance to romance, though by no means a deal-breaker. It's just another thing to be negotiated in a relationship. I believe it's better to be up front early on in a relationship, that way you avoid the anguish of a late discovery (like when you both turn up to the altar in wedding dresses!).

I'm currently single again but who knows ...



A dip in the archives

I don't know about you but after almost a year of Covid restrictions, I am so wanting to get back to normality, to travelling and to life outdoors. I felt somewhat the same in February 2014 after several weeks indoors. This also ties in with my last post about my desire to meet other trans people.

It's back with a vengeance

Sue x

Cari lettori italiani

Considero importante spiegare che sono transgender quasi subito quando mi trovo in un rapporto romantico, per evitare l'angoscia e la sorpresa più tardi. Spiego come ho fatto io a parlare su questo argomento con le fidanzate, e come si sono comportate dopo la rivelazione.

Sue x


  1. It's a tricky one in some regards. If you tell straightaway does that help filter out folk who are opposed to our trans nature? Or, do we give it a little time, see how things go, and once they've got to know, does that make it easier?

    I remember Mrs J recounting an article about people who married multiple times. No, not bigamists 😉 A few of them said that with hindsight and a few more years on the clock, will had felt like a deal breaker back then, it did not feel quite so much later on.

    As to the period of dating in your twenties and thinking the Trans genie is very much bottled up, guilty as charged, ma'am.

    1. Hi Lynn, thanks for your insightful comments. Finding the right psychological moment for the big reveal is hard to judge. I felt that the moment had come but in each instance the catalyst was in fact the subject being raised by my girlfriends. Drag artists do have a purpose! I'm not sure how things might've panned out if I had to bring the subject up cold, as it were.

      I came late to the dating game and so these women were all mature ladies, like me. With greater maturity comes the realisation that the perfect partner doesn't exist, whereas younger lovers are more likely to mould themselves to one another, having developed fewer personal habits and less emotional baggage than middle-aged people. I think young people these days are more receptive to gender and sexual fluidity than those of us who had more rigid notions of society and its expectations to contend with. Here all I can do is tell how it was for me, that my being trans wasn't ideal, but nobody actually screamed and ran away.

      Sue x

    2. "...Here all I can do is tell how it was for me..."

      I think that's all we can do really: share how it was as individuals. Maybe patterns of behaviour may appear if more of us do.

    3. Thanks, Lynn. So little is known of the realities of the trans experience because the overwhelming majority of trans people are in the closet. Studies and surveys have only ever been of the few who are out and have had the courage to participate, or can make their presence known by other means. On that basis, until people feel safe to come out, I doubt we will ever really know what the actual patterns are, sadly. Sue x

  2. Hi,
    Unfortunately I disregarded my transgender nature when I was young as such people did not exist. Then marriage, children and responsibilities until in my late 50's I realised I was not too old to transition. It as a shock to my wife and to some of our fiends. The children had left home and seem able to handle it?
    Still awaiting bottom surgery, and still with my partner.

    1. Hi Philippa, thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Your story sounds all too familiar, but I am glad to hear that things are working out for you, and especially that your partner is still with you. It shows that when you fall in love with the person rather than some ideal, your relationship will survive problems and surprises.

      Best wishes for your future together, and I hope your surgery goes well and helps make you feel complete. Sounds like you've got a happy outcome.

      Sue x