Please note that I use the pronouns “she” and “her” even when referring to a time when my transgender ex-spouse Guinevere presented herself to me as male. I do it out of respect for her, but also because I believe she’s always been a woman inside, even when she was in male garb or anatomy.
I was born a twin and the youngest of the six girls and no boys to an intelligent Irish-Catholic family who considered themselves socially progressive for the times. I’m grateful that the values I learned around the dinner table about justice for everyone regardless of class, race, religion—or lack thereof—remain with me to this day.
It was the one about gender expression that I hadn’t seen coming.
Influenced, but too young to actually experience the psychedelic movement of the 60s, I embraced the resulting psycho-self-help and back-to-the-farm phase of the 70s. Two sons from two marriages, along with a step-daughter and son from a third, took me through the 90s. When I met Steve, whom I didn’t realize was going to express herself as Guinevere in less than ten years, I’d been divorced longer than I’d been in all of my nuptial contracts combined.
Here’s the point: by the time I met the love of my life, my soul mate, my karmic collaborator and my next prospective husband, I’d finally set some high standards for a mate. Did Guinevere-then-Steve listen well? Check. Did she have a sense of adventure? No shit, as I was to learn. Did she respect my point of view and above all else, want my dreams to come true—just as I did hers? Absolutely.
More ironically, did she have a male body to die for and could she make love to me like nobody else ever had? Positively!
So there I was, in a marriage that made all the others look like part of a bigger plan that had lead me to Guin, in my late 40s, planning my future like I was in charge of my life for the first time... when out of the blue, Guin starts wearing women’s clothing around the house.
I mean I thought I’d been around the block a time or two, thank you very much. I'd even been a long time ally of LGBQ family members way before the "T" was inserted into the acronym. But the truth was, I had absolutely no reference point for gender dyphoria.
I was lost. I wanted to support Guin in finding contentment, but I didn't know how far I could go. Worst of all, she didn't know how far that was either. I feared day and night I was going to fail at another marriage. So I began to hide my feelings from the heart that was feeling them. Besides, I told myself, I was raised a liberal and progressive (albeit a recovering Catholic) woman, right?
Five more years played out with Guin wearing more extravagantly female clothes more often, until the day she decided to wear lipstick in public.
It’s taken me 70,000 words and three years to write a memoir about the gut wrenching, heart stomping, mind bending and soul finding experience that took place since that day. So I won't go at length here.
What I will do is tell you that like SOFFAs everywhere, I won’t ever call you un-supportive, insensitive, or non “progressive” for being angry, bewildered, discouraged, hopeful, confused, enlightened or a thousand other real feelings—whether you choose to stay in the relationship or move on. What's important is, is that you feel. In the end, it's Guin that taught me how.
Please remember, too, that while our journeys are as numbered as there are human beings traveling this road, they are also oddly similar.
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P.S. Guin and I decided to divorce. And the result is that we are happier and healthier—and we express our love more kindly than we ever did when married—even in the best of times. That's why I don't buy the idea that the only way love "prevails" in a transgender relationship is by staying in the marriage. But that's another topic....