People who are now identified as transgender have been in existence throughout ancient and modern history. Some would say that the modern world is simply relearning this sacred community. If one merely scratches the surface they would find such individuals occupied very important, functioning positions, in society.

In recent years, there has been a prevalence of stories about unjust encounters of male-bodied persons identifying as female. We have been made aware of mental-health challenges, acts of violence, discrimination, and the impact upon their families through transwomen sharing their personal narratives. However, as we travel throughout history, the lives and stories of female bodied persons identifying as male are quite a challenge to uncover. As the emergence of men who are living a transient experience share their stories, we are able to access insight about the process of coming to understand oneself as a transient male, and its impact upon intimate partners and familial relationships.

“I’m transgender.” he said real calmly. Somewhat confused, relieved and stunned I promptly replied, “What are you talking about?” After days and nights of on-the-spot, open-ended conversations, it slowly began to all make sense. I now knew why I no longer recognized the person I exchanged vows with two years earlier, why I was only allowed to be a part of her life from the edges of her world, like a passenger viewing our life on autopilot. I now understood why I felt lost, and why I literally sat there waiting for intermittent moments of light.

Glad to know the possible cause of his unbearable depression, I started looking for anything I could get my hands on about the topic. I discovered a film titled Transamerica, which really helped me understand my situation. I watched talk shows about male-to-female persons to gain more information. My family member revealed the details of their personal process,which provided me with a deeper understanding of my partner’s experience. I wanted to know as much as possible, from the effects of hormones and how to prepare as best I could. I wanted to remain emotionally available after spending two years in limbo due to his depression.

He was ready to start physically transitioning and I was his biggest supporter. During the first six months he turned into a disagreeable individual. He became nonchalant about almost everything and he only expressed one emotion, anger. To be quite honest, I was unsure if I wanted to stay in the relationship. I soon came to the realization that being supportive of him was positive, however I needed to remain fair to myself. Sitting down with him and sharing my feelings of uncertainty, and bringing light to his unpredictable mood swings, and aggressive (non-physical), behavior made a difference. Skeptical if sharing my emotions and experiences would make an impact, I kept hope in our relationship and continued to do my part to encourage growth.

We soon learned the importance of being closely followed by a physician. His testosterone levels were above average, which caused him to be really irritable, angry, and moody. Over a span of six months he was able to work with his doctor to reach a therapeutic level. During these times, although I felt like I was being selfish, I had to acknowledge my feelings and bring to his attention that he was not the only one ‘transitioning.’ Through these conversations I learned that in order for me to be supportive as I desired, taking care of myself is the one way to be the best support.

I often heard about families who abandoned their transgender loved ones. Our challenge was made a little easier because my sister’s support. It still felt like I was coming out again. His family tussled with using the correct gender pronoun so I found myself correcting them constantly and feeling defensive. After I personally witnessed each agonizing day of his progressive depression, I was easily frustrated when people did not understand or support him. During the early stages of transition we were still connected to the lesbian community and then I had to recollect how much we did not not know about transgender people, including myself. I really did not understand the difference between a ‘stud’ or ‘dom’ lesbian and a transman, so this life changing experience made me take an interest and opened my mind to learning and educating about the T in LGBT. Looking at the circumstance from this perspective permitted me to eventually become less defensive. I noticed that we were harassed less since we present as a hetero couple. There were no subtle looks from the public, and I felt safer which is something I did not expect to happen.

It takes strength, courage, and constant communication to make it through the rough times. I fall in love all over again and we are now eight years into our marriage hoping to have children. The hope I want to share with other partners of trans people is this— things do get better.