When Family isn’t Family?

I was actually lucky, in a way, when I transitioned. Things had gone South so badly with my family that I had stopped speaking to them years before. I had not managed to ever reconcile well with my father, who’s physical violence was the reason I ended up as a homeless teen. My mother’s complete support for that violence, and emotionally abusive outbursts and manipulations were breathtaking towards the end.

So the only family I had to deal with for transition was my spouse. He (Still using male pronouns for now.) had wonderful parents that never blinked when I transitioned. His siblings accepted it, but I think having his parents lead the way was a part of that.

A lot has happened since those days. Both his parents have passed away, and his siblings have behaved in an absolutely deplorable manner. His sister stole pain meds, tried to steal my truck I’d given to his parents, and was every nightmare a heroin using junky could be. His brother was strung out on meth, and gave away or sold a huge portion of my mother-in-laws belongings when she was in the hospital, before we even knew she was dying.

My spouses sister actively reached out to emotionally abuse my spouse via text for the year after they passed, trying to play some blame game alternating with requests for money. With my in-laws gone, the pipeline of money we gave to them, which she actively sought to get was gone, and she was trying to remove the middle man from that equation. It was bad enough that my spouse mostly. . . . mostly. . . . doesn’t talk to her anymore.

However my brother in law? He texts and calls regularly through jail, treatment, homelessness. He is pretty actively on meth and drinking. Nothing is his fault, by his estimation, and he seems to have no ability to really think through cause and effect.

My spouse is desperate for his family, and I understand that an awful lot. What I also understand is this is probably a desperation for a family that he can’t have. His siblings will never be the people they should be. They will never really be decent people. They will always disappoint him. That Normal Rockwell painting in his head of what a brother or sister should be, is not something they can give him.

I know this because I have painfully been there. I have gone back again and again in my life to my mother, only to realize she would do the same painful things. She wasn’t capable of change, and as much as I desperately wanted my mother to love and support me, that wasn’t in the cards. When she said she never wanted to talk to me again when I requested we try some family therapy, it was a breaking point and I left to never look back.

With my spouses transition, he wants to tell his brother. His brother was an absolute shit about me coming out. I came out to the people I felt were safe, and since my brother in law’s and I are not close and he lives in another town, he didn’t make the top of my list. he sent me a crappy angry whine fest over facebook about how dare I tell “those people” before him. He was family, was he not?

The thing is, I’d claim my in-laws as family until the day I died. My brother and sister in law? Not so much. They have never once behaved as family to my spouse, let alone me. My brother in law only calls, I am sure, because he is incredibly good at keeping lines of communication open. He has never talked to me except when I was in my spouses presence. That’s why he didn’t make the top of my list. We didn’t have a relationship at all, let alone a close one.

My brother in law reminds me of the book I, Gypsy which I read about a man’s childhood experience traveling with the Romani people in Europe. There was a passage where each man he knew kept his contacts a secret, so if they rolled into town they could meet up, have drinks, and cultivate that relationship. You never gave your contacts to anyone else, because you didn’t want them to become burnt out. You had to cultivate a careful give and take. It was about having contacts you could use to get what you needed. (Caveat, that book is questionable these days on accuracy, but the passage was a good one for this kind of thing.)

That’s what I think of my brother in law. He may, under his meth and alcohol induced cloud really love my spouse. But his addictions have made him a narcissistic nightmare whose only real concerns about what he needs.

This is a long winded way to get to the point that when we went to our home town, and my spouse had made a breakfast meeting at a restaurant to come out to my brother in law, I was shocked.

First, I had no idea. My spouse is on HRT, getting laser hair removal for his face, and growing out his hair. He’s even lost 40 points on his 6’2″ frame. Yet, he’s not come out to anyone. I had not idea he’d chose the one person that has been constantly disappointing him as his first.

I didn’t even know this was the plan until the morning we were leaving, and I kind of blew an overprotective gasket for a few minutes. It seems to me, if my spouse wants to stay in the closet, this is the wrong person to trust.

The issue was moot, though, as we sat at breakfast and his brother in law stood us up, and never bothered to respond to calls or texts.

I didn’t really feel relief, because I know that really sucked for my husband. It was yet another clue that my brother in law didn’t think my spouse was worth even that much.

I really wish my spouse could have the family he deserves, and I don’t know what’s harder to watch. The hope he has when he tries with them, or when it get’s extinguished when they fail.

 

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When safety feels like betrayal

My spouse has opted to live as male while starting HRT. He is using pronouns that are masculine, and generally going incognito for safety and job hunting reasons.

Yet, because I now know my spouse is a woman, I feel every masculine pronoun I saw. I am acutely aware of it. I internally wince when I say he, him, or his. I cringe at calling him my husband and not my wife.

I think this is because I am also transgender, and I am hyper aware of pronouns in general.

I also keep buying my “husband” lady things. Phone cases, underwear, pajamas. Whatever I can think of that he might use right now while still pretending as male.

I guess I just want him to be happy, and I feel it would be difficult to ignore your gender while waiting, even if that is safe and practical.

I can’t wait until we get settled, he gets a new job, and the HRT takes hold enough that he can live as she.

Lady Things

Some of the first lady clothing I bought for my spouse were pajamas, followed by shirts, and some leggings.

I remember my spouse trying them on, and saying, “Oh my god! Where are all the pockets?”

. . . Welcome to womanhood where nobody puts pockets in your damn clothes for any reason.

Voice Lessons and my general paranoia

Yesterday my spouse, who still uses male pronouns, had his first voice therapy appointment. This went really well considering my spouse is 6’2″ tall and has a deeper voice.

The therapist told him he had a good chance of achieving a higher voice, and was happy with his vocal range.

Of note, my spouse spoke about me, and the therapist said I should also get the insurance provide voice lessons as a transgender man. I had no idea about that, but apparently I could be used to talking at the top of my range, and not in my chest. After my move and everything I might consider that.

I’ve continued to watch my spouse blossom out. Today he told me he might not need so many pink items. He doesn’t know his style yet, but is thinking about it. He’s more old school goth or punk, if he has a style at all. Most of his life has been avoiding anything to do with style and clothing, for the now obvious reasons that he had crippling dysphoria.

As he goes on, I get more worried about him. His hair is longer, and he’s been on estrogen for about a week or two, and his skin is already possibly softening. His beard is less by just a tad after his first laser treatment. (5 more to go, then electrolysis, for a full clean face!)

At the worst, I read about transgender women getting attacked and murdered all the time. Transgender men fade away and blend into society because testosterone gives us those visual cues that allow us to generally be read as men to anyone that looks at us. Those same masculine characteristics are a lot harder to remove. I worry that as a 6’2″ person, my spouse will be clocked as transgender easily and at higher risk for violence.

I worry about his job hunt, not because I care if he works or not, but because my experiences of job hunting during that middle “ugly duckling” phase of transition were some of the worst in my life. I literally had a job recruiter tell me “people like you are not worth getting jobs for”. She literally ripped me apart in a coffee shop after wanting me on the phone because my face had not masculinized as fast as my voice. I love my spouse, and want to protect them from those experiences if I can.

I am so happy for my spouse. I see them happily looking at clothing, and considering things in a way I’d never seen before.

The honeymoon phase of all this must still be going on for him, because I keep coming home to beds made, and the house cleaned. He is not a lump on his computer chair.

I am happy to see him happy.

Depression Confirmation

I always knew my spouse was depressed. I was a nurse once upon a time, and worked in the psych field.

Over the last several years, I watched my husband (still male pronouns for now) sink into himself and just kind of stop doing anything at all. He just came home, sat at his computer, and did nothing. His world visibly shrank as he avoided contact with just about everyone but me.

Along with that was the an increase of emotional eating whenever he was anxious or upset. This wasn’t a big issue, but it was escalating.

I”ve never thought my spouse was especially overweight. Soft and a bit chubby yes, but still beautiful and someone I want to spend my nights with.

However, in the past six weeks or so, I’ve watched my spouse loose 15 pounds without so much as blinking.

The difference is that my spouse stopped emotional eating the day he came out, and told me was going to transition.

Literally no more jelly beans, packages of cookies, candies, or the like. Nothing. It’s been so long even I started thinking I might make some brownies. Usually there is so much junk food in the house, I don’t have time not crave anything, because I eat whatever’s near me.

He’s also has had energy to spare. I am perpetually shocked to come home to dinners being made, housework being done, and even the bed being made.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, my spouse was not one to shirk house chores, but over the last few years it’s kind of been more and more my bag to take care of it.

This more than anything else informs my opinion that my husband is actually my wife, and SHE is doing exactly what she needs to do.

I’ve missed the bright bubbly person I married. I’ve worried for years about my spouse’s depression. I didn’t even know he could turn around like that. I am grateful that he’s found what he needs to be happy.

First HRT

My spouse got his (pronouns for now) pills. Estrogen and Spiro. The estrogen is the girl pill, and the Spiro is the testosterone blocker.

He waited to take them for when I came home, and I can’t help but think it must have been a let down.

I remember taking my first shot of testosterone. I felt like Freddy Mercury chose have burst through the door with a choir of twinkly gay boys serenading my choice to embrace my manhood. Instead I took the shot, and we ate dinner.

My spouse got a very similar event. She took her pills and ate KFC with some congratulating words from me.

I’m not sure what the feminine equivalent to Freddy Mercury would be. I do know I should have brought some flowers or something, but with the new job, and the massive commute I was just desperate to get home. I hope she understands.

Achievement: Prescription Acquired

Yesterday we went to my spouses (still male pronouns for now) new doc. We are moving to a new city so we went down there.

He had been nervous and we went over the plan a lot over the last few days.

If the doc was a gatekeeper, we could pay out of pocket at Capital Hill Medical in Seattle. That was the fallback.

Interestingly, Naveed said not to go to the doc that headed the trans care program. The doc is a transgender woman that Naveed has seen engage in gatekeeper gatekeeping for “not trans enough” people.

We got on of that doctors under docs who turned out to be amazing. In fact the whole little office seemed amazing. It was a great experience.

So after an hour intake appointment and my spouse walked away with a script for estrogen and spiro.

If there was any doubt about my spouse being on the right track, it was rebuked by the smile on his face. I haven’t seen him (soon to be her) this happy in years.