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.