My husband is transitioning, and I will support her
By Hoe I Yune, Apr 17, 2020
Yesterday, Elle shared what it was like for her to come out as transgender to her wife two years ago. Here’s the link to the story.
In today’s story, her wife Melissa shares her perspectives on being married to someone going through a change in gender identity. While Elle has come out to her friends, Melissa doesn’t see a need to inform her friends just yet. She is still working through her thoughts and feelings, but what matters most is that Elle and her are always communicating. They are aligned in their love, and what their marriage means to them.
For Melissa, marriage is a committed companionship. In her words, love is not just a fairy tale; it can come very close to one but only if you work towards it. She believes that for a relationship to work out well, both parties need to complement each other and put in the time and effort to nurture this balance. This is her side of the story.
To say that I was not surprised when Elle first came out would be a lie, but in hindsight, there were signs.
For the lack of a better word, she was effeminate. In a way, I think it helped that I was very in tune with the LGBTQIA community. Knowing some of the challenges faced by the community, I felt better prepared to move forward and anticipate our own as a couple.
It was only after dating Elle that I began being in touch with the LGBTQIA community, and something that stood out to me was the amount of discrimination the people have had to face. While I don’t think I qualify as an activist, I see myself as a supporter. From my perspective, no one person deserves to be treated as any less of a person just because of their gender or sexual identity.
When my husband confided in me that she felt like a girl, I was surprised but it wasn’t completely shocking. I thought to myself, will that make me love this person any less? Does it matter that Hans becomes Elle? I decided that no, this person is still the same person whom I first fell in love with. It only took a few minutes for this to register because ultimately, I know that I love Elle.
From day one, Elle and I have shared the same sense of humour and have plenty of inside jokes. She is also incredibly caring, not just in how she takes care of me but how she looks after my mum who is living with us. It’s in the little gestures like how she would initiate spending time together with my mum and insisting on driving my mum around even though it might be tiring for her to do so.
What scared me the most about Elle transitioning was the ambiguity. I felt apprehensive and worried that it meant her feelings for me were no longer, but she kept reassuring me that her feelings for me remained and that truly helped.
I was also concerned over the challenges that we might face in the future but what kept me going was that I knew deep down that all I want is to be able to spend the rest of my life with Elle. That in itself is more than enough for me.
At first, I was afraid to acknowledge my apprehension because I did not want to come across as selfish. You always hear about how challenging transitioning can be and I did not want to be unreasonable for not completely accepting her for who she is.
The negative thoughts were difficult to deal with, especially since I didn’t feel as if there was anyone else whom I could turn to. But eventually, I opened up about my apprehension to Elle. I realised that I needed to be honest because I wanted her to be honest too.
I talked about my reservations — how I feared that changes would take place too quickly and that there were things that I might not be mentally prepared for yet, but also made sure to say that I wanted to be as supportive as possible, and that I wanted to be included in her journey.
Elle promised to communicate everything with me, and vice versa, which I think is what is helping us navigate through moments of uncertainty.
When Elle first came out, she felt very enabled to do many things such as wearing womenswear out in public, and there were moments when the situation felt like it was out of my grasp. Although I almost immediately knew that I wanted to support Elle, I needed time to process what was happening. I said to Elle, “I think we need to take baby steps.”
The first baby step we took together was last year when I accompanied Elle to get her ears pierced. Next, I bought Elle a big pajama tee that she could wear as a tunic. She was and is still quite shy about wearing a dress but she was curious what it would feel like, so I bought it and suggested that she wear it with jeans inside.
She dons it in the privacy of our home right now when my mum isn’t in and that has been a mini step for us. To wear it down to our void deck or to a nearby convenience store would be another mini step that we could take in the future. We are patient and taking things slow, trying to make sure that we are both comfortable with whatever steps that we are taking.
It is heartwarming how encouraging our friends and the support group members are but sometimes it is easier to be vocal and magnanimous when you are not the one going through a change in your relationship. After Elle came out to her friends, one friend in particular immediately volunteered to be her beard if she ever needed someone to buy lingerie. It was communicated through a text exchange and I was taken back when I read it. I thought this friend overstepped.
It prompted me to ask Elle if she really wanted to buy lingerie and women’s clothing and she said that she was not sure about it yet, but if there was ever going to be a beard, I would be the first in line.
When I shop now, I keep her in mind. If I’m browsing clothes and earrings, I wonder what she would like. Elle is quite thrifty and does not like to splurge on herself, but I want her to have nice things too! From time to time, she would say that a dress or t-shirt of mine looks cute and I’ve given her a few of them. We also share cute little totes with cartoons and quotes printed on them.
When I look at old pictures of Elle, she looks totally different, but I am slowly getting used to the idea that that was her then, and this is her now.
She makes me feel like a priority and likewise, she is always the priority in the decisions I make so in that sense, our relationship has not really changed.
I still call Elle by her birth name Hans in front of our families and while at work (we both work in the same shop, which belongs to Elle’s family). Elle’s parents have commented on how untidy her new hairstyle looks, but everyone else has been saying that it suits her. Twice she was mistaken as a girl in public, which I could tell pleased her. The euphoria that she gets when people compliment her hair or when she gets mistaken as a girl is very obvious and I like that she shares these moments with me too.
There are still moments when I wonder if I am okay with the changes but then I realise that what I want is for Elle to be happy and I also know that Elle truly loves me. Elle’s patience and reassurance about her love for me really helped get me through my earlier days of apprehension.
Like Elle’s parents, my mum remains in the dark, but similarly we have started talking to her about being involved in LGBTQIA activism. We hope that in time she will understand our views. I’ve yet to tell my friends about Elle transitioning because it doesn’t change who she is, but when I do bring it up, I know I want to do it as casually as possible and for them not to overreact.
There are still a lot of question marks right now about what the future holds for us, but even if we do not have a definite answer to things, at least we know what we need to work out and are facing the question marks together.
We’re still quite new to this journey. I don’t think I’m prepared to tackle the big steps like gender reassignment surgery just yet, but should Elle wish to explore that option, I will definitely do my best to understand and support her. The choice not to have children was something that we were on the same page about even before getting married, so that won’t be an issue for us.
Right now, I’m just reading all that I can on the subject and constantly speaking with Elle about her feelings on it because if it ever becomes important to her, I know it’ll be important to me too. I love her and that’s enough reason to support her.
Pictures were provided by Elle and Melissa.
My name is I Yune, and you can find me at @i_yune on the Dayre app. Whether it's overcoming a semi-heartbreak, navigating jealousy or being in love, I chronicle the things that preoccupy way more space on my brain than I like to admit.
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