Kelsie's Story - The View from a
My name is Kelsie and I am the 23 year old spouse of a transitional male.
Our relationship began prior to his transition in 2007, at which time we
identified as a lesbian couple. I have always identified as primarily
heterosexual, although, clearly, not strictly. In November 2010, Levi (his
new name, which I will be using throughout) came to me with the news that he
would like to transition. Much to his surprise, I told him that I wasn’t
really surprised in the least. Yes, this was a huge adjustment for us,
socially, medically and financially, but it just seemed like something that
would make sense for his particular personality. There was never really a
question as to whether or not I would stay with him, because I love him as
the person he was/is and changing how he presents himself to the world
around him wouldn’t change that.
Probably the most difficult part for me was the speed at which he was ready
to get into the transition. Shortly after he informed me of his desire to
transition, he changed his name on Facebook and put out a note tagging all
of our friends and family to inform them of his decision. While this was a
peculiar method of going about it, nobody could complain that they were the
last to know. I was a little put off by this, as we are from a small town
(3,600 people,) the likes of which had never been exposed to this kind of
thing, but much to our surprise, there was an immensely positive response.
It was especially relieving to me when the pastor of our church (who is
fairly liberal for the area and already accepted us as a lesbian couple to
begin with) said that he immediately contacted one of his close friends who
is gay and asked for insight on what to do to support not only Levi, but me
I spent a great deal of time researching online how spouses helped the
transitioning person in their lives. To my great disappointment, what could
be found were boards after boards of women whose male spouses decided to
transition to female, and sadly, their very negative reactions to those
situations. For a while, I watched the Youtube videos made by tmatesftm, and
while those were incredibly informative and refreshing compared to the
message boards, I still feel like there is a great lack of discussion
community in the ftm-spouse arena.
I struggled for a while with how this transition affected my identity, but
since I never strongly identified as any particular orientation, I decided
that I had no desire to label myself any particular way. Let me tell you,
that drives other people crazy! People will still yet ask, “So are you still
We have become, as a couple, sort of a go-to for other people in our area
who are questioning themselves or their identities. After really coming out
to the world around us (and by default, the small town gossip trail) it
seems that other, more closeted people around us started to make themselves
known. We have had discussions with a younger transitional male and his
parents as well as a couple around our age who were in almost the exact
situation as ours was. I think it helps people to know that you CAN still
live your every day life. In the beginning of his transition, most of my
disagreements with Levi were due to the fact that yes, I am interested in
your transition, but I am also interested in your day and all of the other
things that we talked about before your transition.
In being supportive of his transition, I have tried to be both helpful and
somewhat humorous. (On the day he started testosterone, I pulled out a
laminated business card that simply said “Man” and gave it to him so he
would have a man card in his wallet) While there is not much of a local
community around us, I feel that we have done a fairly decent job of keeping
informed via the internet (you tube, blogs, etc.) and his gender therapist.
I had an opportunity to be interviewed for a student’s master’s thesis on
spouses of trans persons. Sadly for her, I don’t think that I was much help
because a lot of the questions revolved around our attachment to the gay
community in our area. As I’ve said, for the most part, there isn’t a gay
community in our area.
I try to also be open to the questions that people have, while at the same
time maintaining a level of privacy and dignity that I feel appropriate for
Levi and for our relationship. For example, if you wouldn’t ask a stranger
on the street what is in their pants, you had better get to know a person
very well before venturing on to that topic. When meeting new people, we
prefer to be no-disclosure (stealth) and live as a heterosexual couple,
although if the topic is brought up, we would be open about it.
I hope that by sharing my experiences that more spouses of trans persons
feel comfortable sharing their experiences and developing a community in
which to discuss these things.
I give permission for this to be used on
for informational or discussion purposes only. All opinions and experiences
are my own.