My Partner Came Out as a Transgender Woman and We’re Happier Than Ever

By Cate Gary on Wednesday November 18th, 2020

Image: xoJane

Loving Outside the 'Norm'

When I was younger, I used to tease my boyfriends with a game called “Would you still love me if…?”

I’d ask whether they’d still love me if I were ancient, if my body were covered in boils, or if I had any other quality that made me less sexually attractive. (It was a really ridiculous game).

My boyfriends would usually play along and say they’d love me no matter what – unless I asked this question: “Would you still love me if I were a man?”

All joking would stop and it would become abundantly clear that my gender would be a deal-breaker for the relationship.

I didn’t think that was strange at the time.

This was before transgender people had much visibility, so the odds of someone being a different gender seemed about as high as the odds of someone being a unicorn.

And even though I asked the question, I never really thought about how I’d react if my boyfriend turned out to be a woman…

…until my boyfriend of two years, Robert, sent me this message on Facebook: “Baby, I identify as a woman so much more than as a man. Everything makes sense now. I love you.”

Love knows no limitsLove and gender identity are no longer limited to just ‘man and woman.’ Image: Jenny Marvin

I knew this wasn’t a joke, and I certainly wasn’t laughing. I was scared. I didn’t want to lose what we had. Would Robert still want to be with me? Would I still want to be with Robert? I’d never consciously been in a relationship with a woman before.

I loved Robert, but would that be enough?

After the initial shock wore off, I realized I wasn’t surprised. You’d think it would be traumatic to find out that your boyfriend was a woman by Facebook message, and it was at first. But then something clicked. Of course Robert was a woman. And I was happy for her.

I decided to stay with Robin (the name she goes by now). This is hard for some people to understand. First of all, they assume that transgender women must be attracted to men, even though gender identity and sexual orientation aren’t the same thing (lesbians do exist, after all).

But even if they get that, people wonder why I’d want to stay in a relationship that has changed so dramatically. I signed on for a heterosexual relationship with a man, right? I’d be perfectly within my rights to leave. So why didn’t I?

The answer is simple: In a way, Robin never hid who she was from me. She wasn’t like the ‘other’ men I’d been with. She was sweet and vulnerable and free with her emotions. We would often joke that she was the stereotypical woman of the relationship.

She would tell me her problems, and when I immediately tried to solve them, we’d argue because she just wanted me to listen. She remembered our anniversary; I killed the June bugs in our apartment. She cooked and cleaned; I took her out to fancy dinners. I was the big spoon; she was the little.

None of this necessarily meant that Robin was a woman, of course. There are plenty of men who do laundry, and I identify as a woman, even though I don’t like The Notebook.

Just be YOUDenying who we truly are, to ourselves and others, only causes suffering. Image: Karina Carvalho

But as far as our relationship went, it didn’t change things that Robin was a woman. She was still the person I loved, just with a new name, feminine pronouns, and a more colorful wardrobe.

None of these were deal-breakers. This was the relationship I’d signed on for, only with a different vocabulary and aesthetic.

In fact, if Robin hadn’t come out as transgender, I’m not sure our relationship would have survived.

Before Robin came out, there was an elephant in the room that neither one of us wanted to acknowledge. Robin wasn’t masculine. She had a baby face with big, round cheeks and soft lips. She loved Rilo Kiley and anything that was pink. I didn’t mind; in fact, her lack of masculinity was what attracted me to her.

But she felt a lot of pressure to be masculine, and it almost destroyed us. I thought she was adorable, but she hated it when I said so, because she’d always been told that women didn’t want to be with adorable men; they wanted to be with masculine men, and she couldn’t believe I wanted to be with a man who wasn’t masculine.

No matter how many times I told her that I loved her, she couldn’t let go of the insecurity. So whenever she asked me if I thought she was manly, I’d change the subject. I didn’t want to insult her by telling her the truth.

I had my own hang-ups about masculinity, and that didn’t make things easier for her. Although Robin and I loved being affectionate with each other, I worried about how it made her look in public. (I had a lot of baggage from dating men who had to project masculinity at all times.)

We are all uniqueAccepting every individual for their own uniqueness is the only way forward. Image: Delia Giandeini

Robin is a few inches shorter than I am, so it’s just easier for me to put my arm around her. When we were alone, I’d hold her close, and she’d rest her head on my shoulder. I liked that. It made me feel strong. I was her protector.

But as soon as anyone else was around, I’d remove my arm and put some distance between us. I told myself I was doing it for Robin, so people wouldn’t judge her. I continued telling myself that even after she let me know it made her unhappy. She felt safe in my arms.

But I still saw her as a man, so as much as I wanted to protect her, I thought it was more important to protect her image. (It sounds ridiculous when you put it that way, doesn’t it?) I was determined to safeguard my boyfriend’s manhood, even if it made us both miserable.

Our relationship was rocky in the months before Robin came out. She was depressed and angry, but she wouldn’t say why. We were fighting a lot. I thought she was pushing me away. Then over the holidays, she decided to put on some nail polish. ‘Decided’ might be too soft a word; she was determined to do it.

So we went to a CVS and bought a pink shade, and my sister-in-law applied it for her. It was the happiest Robin had been in a long time. I’d never seen her smile that wide. She left the polish on until just a few flakes remained. And then the sadness came back.

Several weeks later, she told me she was a woman. This was around Valentine’s Day, so I bought her some proper nail lacquer from Butter London. I wanted to get her something that would make her smile for as long as possible

Of everything I felt when Robin came out, the strongest was relief: Relief that she had told me the truth, that she had found a way to be happy, and that we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t anymore.

I had no idea how heavy that burden was until it was no longer there. Now I can tell her why I love her without hurting her, and we can be affectionate in public without shame.




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38 Responses to My Partner Came Out as a Transgender Woman and We’re Happier Than Ever

    • Happy to hear you enjoyed this article and that it has been useful for you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Team UPLIFT

  1. 1. the article says 2020 but I see comments back from 2018. When was this written?
    2. are they (or might they) have children together? Would the inseminator be the 2nd Mom, Dad, or both?

    • Hi Geoff,

      It was written in 2018. I’m not sure your second question is relevant to the theme of the article. Thanks for reading 😊

      Team UPLIFT

  2. So he felt ashamed he wasn’t masculine enough for a man, and therefore has to be a woman? This ideology is so regressive. Your sex is just your body, it doesn’t define you in any other way. It’s time to embrace gender nonconformity again.

    • Hi Charlie,
      Thanks for your comment 🙏 I don’t believe shame was the reason behind Robin’s change of sexual identity. Her ‘coming out’ message said clearly “I identify as a woman so much more than as a man.” Indeed, our bodies don’t define us but there is also nothing wrong with identifying with being male or female either 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      Team UPLIFT

  3. Thank you for sharing this story during transgender awareness week. These stories truly are uplifting and help everyone understand the range of human experience. I totally get the feeling of nicely polished nails! 🙏

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words Frances 😊🙏 It is indeed important that these stories are shared far and wide.

      Team UPLIFT

  4. For several years of not talking so much plus I barely talk. I mean I became transgender male 7 years ago and almost nobody wanted to date me which I do accept! I don’t remember ever having a romantic relationship! I legally changed my name a couple times and changed my gender once. I did know that indoctrination school had affected me. I don’t want to be labeled as what I’m not, I want to be just me! Sometimes I’m anonymous on and off for years. I was being lied to for so long cause of my gender and stuff. I went to at least few doctors to treat my gender problems and only 1 doctor treated almost all gender problems. I have hormonal problems for years. Rest of my story is too personal!

    • Thank you for sharing Gen 🙂 We’re glad you’re here and committed to living an authentic life. Much love to you.

      Team UPLIFT

  5. I love to read stories like this. It shows that there are still people who fight for freedom of choice. We people are all unique. We all eat, sleep, get sick, we have emotions, the only thing that makes us different is the choice we make in life. As long as that choice do not harm anybody then it should be viewed as equal.

    • I agree John. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same!

      With much love and acceptance,
      Team UPLIFT

  6. People have rights to be whatever they want to be so I’m very glad to see it works for you and your partner. Wish you all the best! Nice story tho.

  7. I married a man not a women, to lie to me and take 20 years of my life, everything we build together as a female/male couple our kids, grand kids, can not be forgiven and he now she can not give back time stolen from me where I could have had a different life. Knowingly getting in a relationship knowing that he is transgender and then destroying their partners life is in my eyes criminal and should be punished. They always complaining how they been treated by the world and everyone. But they not honest either and do not treat their spouses and families with honesty and dignity either and respecting their lives. I always see including my ex Transgender staying there asking to be respected, since he now came out, but in return they/he/she did not respect others, their spouses, kids and families and what they did or take from their lives. And standing there expecting everyone to respect the transgender partner really? They hollering for equal to be treated “and show me respect” but they don’t to that to the spouses and families they leave behind. And I supported my ex husband now ex wife during his process till I was able to move on. He was a selfish disrespect full brick. Did not think about anyone else then him self. He did not care he could have prevented destroying my life with been honest when we med and could have told me “I cannot be in a relationship, till I figure out what’s going on with me” no he know as he says and still went on lying. I could have made different choices 20 years ago knowing. But he took that from me. That I hate. Not what he has become, that’s just discussing, layered with lies as his whole life was.
    When I had to make my choice what I want to do he told me that he as a female considers himself as a lesbian and wanted to live with a women, me. I decided to move on since that was not I had signed up for. So now he is transition did not have his surgery yet, and lives with a man who transitioned to women no surgery yet either. Interesting.

    • I’m so sorry for your situation. I lived 63 years not knowing why I was so depressed and unhappy. The secret of what Eye/I truly was/am in being female was something my psyche had kept hidden even from myself. My only memories of attempting to act out or play out being a girl was when my mother dressed me as one as a child. My marriage took a real hit upon my awakening. Yet somehow for now we’re still together. Smooth sailing it is not. Yet we’re still here, even to my surprise. If your spouse did indeed know of their situation for years prior and during your marriage then yes, that is criminal. If they were hiding from themselves as I did, then please forgive them and yourself.

  8. I’m in a very similar position. I’m MtF trans and struggling to come out to my wife. She knows I dress but doesn’t think I’ve taken things that far. She knows something is wrong and wants me to talk about it. Thing is, if I do, she’ll close her ears. IT’s not nice being in this position

    • Hello Anna,
      I have tried and tried to include my wife. So far only with partial success. One day I may have to leave to live my life as Michelle Jeannette. It may be lonely, but there will be a new partner.
      I can relate to the ‘closed ear’ situation. You talk and talk and it goes right through as nothing seems to stick, and then she tells me what she needs from the grocery store.
      Once in a while, it is better and I can dress at home for a few hours and enjoy my life with her as a female partner. That is when I am happy.
      Michelle Jeannette

  9. Great tremendous things here. I’m very glad to look your article. Thank you so much and i am taking a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail

  10. This is a lovely story. And as life should be. I am a mature transgender who realized too late that I wanted to be a woman. Also, family commitments deny me the choice of coming out. I wish it was not so but it is a choice I have made. I also have no support from my lady friend who cannot accept such changes in people. And so I live in a closet enjoying only partial happiness.

    My point here is not that I am complaining or feeling sorry for myself. More like being overwhelmed on occasion with sadness because when I finally realized that I was transgender the joy of my new emotions literally took my breath away and I was walking on air for a long time. But now the emotions have cooled and the sadness has returned.

    To all those who have successfully made the leap, I wish you love and happiness. (One benefit, strangely, is that I can now shed tears without guilt, whether they are for happy or sad times. Is it not strange what men miss with the masculine stiff upper lip attitude?

    Question: Are conversations allowed as I do not have the opportunity to speak to anyone?

    • Terri,
      You are not alone.
      I lived my life as I was supposed to live it since I did not know who I really was for a very long time. Now I am ‘stuck’ and it may be too late to transition. But, like you, part-time happiness is what I have right now. At times I could run and try to find a new partner, preferably a transgender female who understands me.
      Michelle Jeannette

  11. I am a straight woman in love with a trans woman. We get along fabulously. We love each other and though it’s a sensual and not a sexual relationship it is perfect.

  12. How one identifys to oneself is the most important issue. I know Im a woman though born a male. As I am clear the people I meet are clear. Simple

  13. For any relationship to survive, both parties must be able to ride the waves of change and challenge. Congratulations to this writer for her open mind and heart. What a lovely and moving story!

  14. I just found out that the man I was with has been putting on makeup and taking a picture of himself. And I found out he has been talking to this other person about being transgender.

  15. I feel that it’s up to each individual or couple how they handle a transgender issue. I am attracted to masculine men but I am from a generation (I’m 69) where the stereotypes of male and female were inculcated into our education and daily lives. I have gay and straight friends and it wouldn’t matter at all to me if any of my 3 children were gay or transgender as long as they were happy and with someone they loved and who loved them. I feel that the soul (which has no gender) is above any gender issues.

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