How to Tell

Suddenly I See By Rebecca Ann Wilder

How to Tell Family and Friends That You’re Transgendered

Are you considering transitioning to your preferred gender? Not sure where to start when it comes to telling your family and friends? This is the topic that I would like to touch on based on my own experience. When we make that decision to inform our family about the future steps of transition and try to explain the situation to our family and friends, we tend to see things simpler then they do. Let me explain what I mean by this. When I made that decision, I sent a book to my parents that I had purchased that I felt explained my status of having a gender issue. I also felt this book would help explain more than I could say over the phone. I was relieved when I told all of them that they seemed to understand and asked several questions. I hung up the phone knowing that they would need ongoing explanations as time would tick by. A couple years later I had a discussion with my mother about working harder on changing my pronouns when speaking about me while I am present. When I was around or home for the holidays they seemed to have forgotten that I transitioned at all. What was puzzling to me was when I look into the mirror I don’t see a man, not even the slightest and they are looking at me all the while making “slip ups”. About once a year or so I would have to say something about me being a woman and not a man, then everyone would suddenly feel uncomfortable and try harder to use the pronouns “she or her”. What made it seem odd was that when they did slip up, it was a moment where a correction was made and then apologies pursued making everyone feel “awkward”. I resented this process for years and decided to limit exposure to my family. I never understood what was so hard about switching my pronouns however; my recent experience gave me a wake up call about my expectations about my ex-spouse. That’s right my ex-spouse. When I told her what I needed to do to feel whole and find happiness within myself, her response was not pleasant. Throughout the conversation I kept telling her I would be the same person she married only look a lot different. I couldn’t understand why she wanted a divorce. She said “I married a man, and I want a man”. Years after I kept thinking she didn’t give me a chance to prove that I could make the relationship work and I simply could not understand until now.

Why am I bringing this up? I had a sudden realization of my expectations being too high without enough education to my family and a limited exposure. Seven years after starting my transition I met a man that quickly became the love of my life. Suddenly everything slipped into place. I was a woman that was soon going to be married to a wonderful man. He was a man that understood everything about me without having to explain myself. He stuck up for me when someone pegged me as someone not quite right in the female species. I quickly fell in love with him and we had a wonderful time. I was so excited planning our life together that I too had forgotten that I was not born anatomically female. I introduced him to my family and parents and all my current friends. What is different about this relationship was he told me when we met that he too was a transsexual but one that had no desire to transition. In the back of my mind I felt that someday he would want to transition yet he continued to stomp out that theory by pointing out he tattooed himself all down his arms so he couldn’t transition. As the months went by I believed him and ran with my emotions that I had finally made it.

About 6 months into our relationship he informed me he could no longer live as a man and wanted to transition as I had. You can imagine what I started to feel. To my surprise I felt betrayed, lied to, and completely devastated. I told him I wanted a man. The man that I met 6 months ago, the man that I fell in love with. I was very angry at why he insisted on ruining my happiness. After my anger subsided I thought about my past and realized I am standing in the shoes of my ex-spouse. Guilt immediately came over me. What was I thinking trying to convince her that I would be the same? I am not the same in any way. I was no longer the man she longed for sexually, no longer did she know who I was or what I was interested in. I put her through turmoil without realizing the impact it would have on her and my family. “Suddenly I see”.

We have been separated for 2 months now and have been watching him start transition. We happen to work together and I have had to deal with this whether I like it or not. What do I see when I look at my ex-boyfriend when he has on a wig with makeup and female clothing and acting more feminine? I see my ex-boyfriend. I realized history is there whether we choose to ignore it or not. I gave him permission to transition and I gave myself permission to move on and find a man that I want to spend my life with. I am using male pronouns for the time being since he has not yet started to live full time as a woman.

If I had to do it all over again, I would change one thing. I would give my spouse permission to leave and move on. I would have put myself into their shoes and feel what they are feeling. My parents have 30 years history with me being the male gender. What do they see? I believe they see their son that had a sex change. My brothers see me as their brother that had a sex change even though I may get the female pronouns half the time. Will they eventually come around? Possibly, but I no longer think I will change how they see me and that’s something I will have to live with forever. Hopefully I am wrong but I think I had too high of expectations of my family and friends. What does this story solve? Probably nothing except your awareness of what they are seeing or feeling about you and your transition. What can we do to make this situation better? Maybe more education and more exposure to family so they get used to the idea faster. I have rarely seen parents at a support meeting in the last 7 years. Just maybe that’s what we should be pushing them to do. Let’s get them more involved. Any suggestions or maybe you wish to tell your own story that may benefit other transitioners please post to our message board on “our services” page. The more we share our ideas and thoughts the less someone new has to figure it all out on their own.

Rebecca Ann Wilder

Disclaimer (These stories and opinions are of my own and I do not claim to represent all Transgender individuals)

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