Love is love
Love is love / love wins / love knows no bounds. We hear these sayings a lot during Pride month. But what happens when the person you love takes the brave step and tells you they are trans? Does love thrive? It sure does! This is Sarah's story.
I was married for 10 years to a man. I’m now married to a woman. I didn’t get divorced. In hindsight maybe there were clues, getting married in a kilt (handy that I’m Scottish!)? Not really definitive. But in reality, there weren’t any signs, no cross dressing, no secret dressing up, no secret make up stashed away. But then she started getting acrylic nails with colourful, pretty designs and I remember my step-mum asking ‘but how far are you going to go with this?’ I don’t think even my wife realised at the time how far it was going to go.
It happened suddenly in the end, my wife always being an all or nothing type of person, although, I remember her mentioning it about a year before she fully took the plunge – testing the water in regard to my reaction maybe? Her work was incredibly supportive, changing her email address, sending out information to the volunteers she worked with, and they had a good LGBT network. From that moment on she was who she was always meant to be, at work, at home, in all areas of her life. She uses a metaphor – when she was born she was pink but her parents and the doctor painted her blue and throughout her life her parents kept it topped up, then she had a wife who did the same, she says I was the one who let the paintbrush be put down and all the blue to chip off and the pink to come through.
There was never a question of me not staying with her because of this – why would you leave the person you love when they’ve finally become themselves?
There was never a question of me not staying with her because of this – why would you leave the person you love when they’ve finally become themselves and you’ve seen the huge weight they’ve been carrying around their whole life (that maybe neither of you really knew was there) finally be put down? In terms of her mental health, she’s been on anti-depressants most of her life, and has come off these now. She hated mirrors, cameras, anything like that, her phone is now full of her selfies and we take pictures of ourselves together. Her outside matches her inside, although not as much as she’d like, there’s still things she wants to change.
Maybe she was lucky that I’m younger and less rigid about labels and sexuality, but I have always felt that you fall in love with the person, their nature, their personality and not their gender. However, while I’ve always felt this, and been open to it, for 10 years people assumed I was straight, because I appeared so. It’s taken me some adjustment to the new labels I have apparently acquired which somehow make me feel less safe at times. One of the things we’ve noticed is people staring, not just a glance but a long look, often following her across a room. Wherever we go, whatever we do, people will stare at my wife. This does bother us as sometimes she just wants to blend in. It’s also been quite hard for me, as I’m a disappear in the background type of person (although becoming less so, evidenced by this blog!!)
Dealing with family’s reactions has been the hardest thing, her sister taking it quite badly initially, my dad saying, ‘you’ve turned my daughter into a lesbian’, her sister complaining about the name she’d chosen (their grandmother’s name). There are parts of my family that we don’t speak with anymore, my uncle who spewed forth some delightful phrases like monster and using ‘it’ as a pronoun. But, some have made an effort, my dad really trying hard with names and pronouns and recently sending a birthday card that said ‘daughter in law’. We were both touched by this gesture.
The other thing that can affect mental health is all the misinformation and hate that is in the media currently. Questioning trans people’s motives and using emotive words like groomer. It all feels a bit like the language used in relation to gay men in the 80s. It can be hard to see the person you love finally get to be themselves and then being attacked all the time, especially when she just wants to live her life as the woman she was meant to be.
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LGBT+ people are at a greater risk of poor mental health and wellbeing. As a minority, you may have to deal with difficult experiences like discrimination because of your sexuality or gender identity. This can have an impact on your mental health.
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