You may remember a while back I asked for women to share their experiences of what it is like for them being in a relationship with a transgender woman. This was for the purpose of me approaching newspapers/magazines etc for potential articles for publicity for the book. (No success so far, but you know tenacious old me – I’m not giving up quite yet).
I promised those very special ladies that if they did not see their stories in print in national papers, they would at least see them published here. So I will share one beautiful story this week and another next week. It is all completely their words.
I hope it moves you as much as it did me;
‘Zoe,’ or ‘Gillian’ back then, first came into my life when 3 months into my relationship with Ian he decided to tell me that he liked to dress. This was after discussions about wanting an open, honest, no secrets chat.
A lot of people would have probably put their hands up, said “see you later”, and walked out the door but not me. Yes for a few minutes I was shocked, but then I remember just saying “and?” The look of Ian’s face was a mix of amazement and disbelief that I didn’t seem the slightest bit bothered. It still makes me laugh now. The thing is I was bought up by my mum to be open minded and never judge a person based on what they wore or what they liked to do in their spare time (as long as it didn’t hurt anyone in the process). At the end of the day it’s what’s inside a person that is the most valuable asset. So when the revelation was set upon me these words rang out in my head and made me want to explore more.
The only thing I knew about ‘dressing’ was from watching TV shows with the likes of Dame Edna Everage and Danny La Rue when I was growing up, so I didn’t have a real idea of what it all meant – and back then you never saw a man dressed as a woman on the streets. I then asked the two questions that I know a lot of people will ask when their partners open up; “are you gay?” and “do you want to be a woman full time?” Thankfully the answer was “no” to both. To this day I’m not sure what I would have done if Ian had said he wanted to transition, even now although I love and support him immensely I am not sure how I would handle it if he changed his mind.
It took me a few months of seeing little parts of ‘Gillian’ emerge; i.e. breasts, make-up, hair etc before I felt confident that I wanted the full thing. I just remember being amazed at the final results, she looked so good. Although I had to be honest and tell Ian that ‘Gillian’ didn’t suit him, so ‘Zoe’ took over and as a tribute to me he took on my middle name ‘Marie’. I think it was a way of saying thank you for accepting this side of him. In a way, and I don’t know why it made me feel like this, I felt honoured. I never found it hard to accept the cross dressing, it just took a while to adapt to a new found experience.
I remember asking “why?” The only answer I was given at the time was “it makes me feel good and I enjoy it”, I didn’t need any more explanation.
‘Zoe’ has been a wonderful part of my life for over 10 years now, and I couldn’t imagine my life being any different; going shopping without being moaned at is a bonus although I’m not so sure about the ever increasing pile of shoes and clothes! It’s also nice when I try something on and I get an honest opinion on the way things look, and also get some accessory advice too.
You get a lot of empathy with having a transgendered partner. After all they have the toughest part of life to deal with by dressing up and going out in public. Even now you hear snide comments, see looks and hear sniggers and wish that people would join the 21st century. After all you can accept the gay/lesbian community now so why not the transgendered community? There’s not much difference really.
It’s nice when you give them the support they need to walk out of the door, to know that they will repay you in kind. If I didn’t like something that ‘Zoe’ wore or didn’t want to see ‘Zoe’ then I know, with confidence, that I won’t get pouting or tantrums, it’s just accepted and understood. It’s a 2 way door.
I have met an incredible bunch of people through the trans scene, many of which are very close friends. They are far more open and honest that a lot of people I have met and are not ashamed of who they are. Going on a lot of nights out has given me more confidence. I used to shy away and feel very uncomfortable – never knowing what to say or do. Now I can hold my head up, look people in the eye, smile and start a conversation!
Recently ‘Zoe’ came out to her work colleagues, friends and some family members with some amazing support. I have even opened up to my mum – although I think she had an inkling already!
We now have a beautiful daughter who made her debut appearance at Sparkle 2012, and will continue to make her appearance every year. This is to ensure she grows up not being kept in the dark, and knowing that this side of life is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I believe that if every trans couple who had children took them to these kind of events it would eventually make a difference and change people’s perceptions.
Zoe and Yvonne’s daughter has such a beautiful temperament that you just know she is loved by a couple who are comfortable with who they are, and an inspiration. I can also vouch they are great company on a night out!