This letter was written by my significant other as a contribution to a book. It seems fitting to publish this Feb 14th. Enjoy.
Yesterday as I was waking up it hit me: your hysterectomy is in less than 2 weeks. I couldn’t help but get nervous. Not that I don’t want you to do it; I do, and I know it is the right timing and the right thing for you. But it is surgery, which inevitably makes me nervous, and I have all the right to be nervous, you are the love of my life!
Nerves and anxiety aside (you have enough of that for the both of us) I am excited. Every step we’ve taken in this transition has made you a happier person, more you, and that is all I want for you. For me. For us. I love that it is always something we do together as a couple. I truly believe that is one of the reasons your transition has only made our relationship stronger. I feel that this is also my transition, I feel part of it, and whenever I’ve felt disconnected you’ve been great at bringing me back in, sharing everything with me and making it about us again.
Granted, it hasn’t been all peachy. It has definitely been an emotional rollercoaster, with Sundays full of tears, laughs and hugs.
I’ll always remember with a smile the day the idea of being trans* started seeping in. While I was doing homework, you stayed up until 5 am watching the Transgeneration documentary in 10 minute chunks on YouTube, taking it all in. And then when I took the Science of Sex and Sexuality class, you would read every book, article, and essay trying to absorb it all. It seemed that you couldn’t get enough… you still can’t get enough! But your inquisitive nature definitely took new dimensions when you discovered the world of gender and trans*.
It’s been only 3 years since then, but right now it seems like a century ago. At this point it is hard to believe that, even with all that wealth of information, you still thought you didn’t qualify to be trans. I remember us having conversations of you wanting to get rid of your boobs, but it all seemed impossible. I remember clearly being completely oblivious and telling you, “well, if you are so uncomfortable with them you could get a reduction.” Oh, silly me!
I know we’ve always had a really open and communicative relationship, but sometimes I wonder if you were ever closed off to me, exploring in your own mind, being either too shy or thinking it was too silly to share. I mean, you sneakily binded for the first time with Ace Bandages, which I noticed right away and fully supported. Seeing you so happy with your chest flatter than usual was the only thing I needed to see to know that it was right. Shortly after came your first binder, and that is when you started being more open about it. You did need an extra hand, since you got a size too small, and it took the two of us to take it off!
At the time we were in Philly, and after almost a whole year of binding you finally stumbled upon someone that opened a whole new world for us: the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. Another lucky coincidence: the biggest transgender conference right in our backyard, and happening just two weeks before our scheduled cross-country move. All these trans* people, all this information, all these images; the initial shock I experienced is almost laughable, yet at the time it was too much to even start making sense of what was happening. I’m glad you dragged me to it. Looking back, I know I was not thrilled about going. Although I’m not quite sure why, it was perhaps fear of the unknown, of uncovering something that would change our lives. Without a doubt it was mostly ignorance, since growing up the only real concept of a transsexual person was always negative and somewhat derogatory. How could you fit into that world? You have to admit the unknown is scary and change is even scarier. But in many cases, change is good, and it’s the right thing.
Now that you are about to go into an OR again, I can’t avoid thinking about your top surgery, almost 2 years ago. I was out of my mind with worry, especially when the doctor took way more time than what he originally estimated. I did absolutely nothing but stare at the “patient status” screen for 2 hours. Finally, the surgeon announced you were alright, out of the OR and waking up from the anesthesia. Oh, the anesthesia, we had no idea it would be so rough on you! Good thing you stopped throwing up once we got to the hotel. I remember being really sad that I couldn’t hug you, and squeeze you and cuddle you. I’ve heard stories from other partners on how they go through a mourning phase, saddened by the loss of their partner’s breasts. For me it was different. I was not sad about losing your boobs; instead, I was really scared. What if I was repelled by the scars? What if seeing you without a shirt would make me uncomfortable? Of course that terrible post-op depression you had did not help. While you were struggling on whether this had been the wrong decision, I was silently struggling with my own doubts, but trying to stay as positive and reassuring out loud. Now when I see pre-op pictures, those two entities look out of place, they don’t belong with you. I love how comfortable you are. But what I love the most is hugging you and resting my head on your chest.
As a partner of someone who is Trans*, I’ve found that my main responsibility is to reassure, encourage, cheer up, comfort, and soothe you, even if I have my own doubts or fears. And even then, when I say “everything is going to be OK” or “yes honey, you look great” I really mean it; I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.
Sometimes I used to mention “I wish I had someone else I could talk about this whole thing.” Despite the lack of someone else, I always had you. Thank you for listening to my feelings, thoughts, fears. Thank you for making this about us, and not just about you.
I’m not going to lie to you, there were even a few occasions when I just couldn’t make you feel better, where I thought, “Why?” Why did I have to spend my weekend like that? “I did not sign up for this” I’d say. But then I reminded myself that I did sign up of this, and I am glad I did. Being someone’s partner is more than just happy moments, it is whole shebang. Transition without a doubt puts any relationship to a test. Ours didn’t even shake, it just got stronger. Now our happy moments can be truly happy because you feel YOU!
I say this every day and I really mean it: I will always support you. Whatever it is that will make you happy, I will be there holding your hand, loving you. And even though I repeat this a lot, you know that my support goes beyond those nice words. I am here to listen to you. You can share anything, even those desires you only admit to yourself at 2 in the morning when you can’t fall asleep. I am here to catch your tears when you need to cry for hours, and cry with you. I’m sorry I get emotional, but seeing you cry makes me cry. I’m here to hold you tight and tell you everything is going to be alright.
Sometimes it seems like I have infinite patience. I do not, but for you I gather all of it so we can figure everything out at the right time. I’m here to be your cheerleader, your groupie, to take care of you, to give you little nudges when you need them. And more than anything I am proud of you, of all the strength, courage, and determination you’ve gathered out of being trans.