Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere

When my spouse told me she was transgender (mtf), we were living our lives according to prescribed gender roles. We knew we were ‘unique’ people but we really weren’t that different from any other white, suburban families in our community. During the last (almost) two years of transitioning, I felt for the first time in my life what it is like to different: not fat, tall, or blonde but intrinsically different.

Last week, while driving home from work we were both feeling kind of down when Michelle looked at me and said, “I miss how easy life was before all of this.”

I knew exactly what she meant. I miss our naiveté before transitioning together. We may not have been as happy but we were not as atypical. Meeting people for the first time was less awkward. Telling new friends, “My husband and I,” was safe. People never judged us for being married and I was never cautious of telling them.

Making friends for our daughter seemed easier too. Too many times since transitioning (living in a religious community), our daughter has been left out of invitations to classmates’ birthday parties and games at the park. She knows that her family is different from those of her friends and it makes her sad at times.

On a smaller scale, the new patient forms for my daughter’s new dentist requested information for her Mother and Father. I simply crossed out Father, wrote Mother, and inserted Michelle’s information. It was just another thing telling me that my family is ‘not normal’. It makes me sad for other families who have done the same thing on their children’s’ forms.

Recently, we applied for a credit card with Michelle’s new legal information and were denied because the credit agencies did not recognize her new name and Social Security information. So we had work with a company representative, explain she is transgender, and provide her former name. We have run into the same issue when requesting medical records from previous physicians.

Now, I know that most people do not care if my wife and I are married. I also realize that most children to do not either.

I simply never realized how deeply institutionalized marriage between a man and woman and the ‘traditional family’ has become and how much energy is takes to belong everywhere but nowhere at the same time.

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4 Comments

  1. I hear you and feel your pain! It is a wonderful transition to see your loved one blossom and so therefore it is all worth it! Eventually we will become a zootopia! Our son has been dissed from all of his old friends (f2m); but screw them! He will make new, better friends! I wish your family comfort and happiness!
    I support you guys 110%

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    1. Feeling ‘different’ was such an unexpected effect of transitioning. In the moment of change, we are all focused on being strong and getting through the rough times as complete unit (kind of a no one gets left behind survival mode). Now, in the calm after the storm, I feel like I have finally come up for air and noticed how atypical we are.
      Thank you for your kind words. Good luck to you and your family!

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  2. I think you’ve touched on the biggest adjustment when an apparently straight couple transitions. You go from being unquestioned to realizing how the world is built on certain assumptions and not fitting into that. I’m still adjusting to the same thing, like either not being perceived as a couple or worried about repercussions if we are. I’ve noticed some partners have an easy time adjusting to the relationship part, but the social perception/identity is tough (I’m no exception!).

    The heteronormative marriage thing is less of an adjustment, since we’re not married and have been together over a decade. People thought it was odd but generally were able to accept that. I’ve always been more critical of marriage as an institution, so more aware of how deeply embedded it is in society, I guess?

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