Many of us married transgender people (whether we are ‘just’ crossdressers or people who more completely identify with a gender different to the one we were assigned at birth) have either actually written or considered writing ‘the letter’. This is designed as a ‘tell all’. A coming clean if you like where we finally tell our spouses who we are, what we do and why we have kept this from them for so long. It is traumatic for both parties and incredibly risky. The stakes are high and once handed over there is no going back. For this reason many letters never see the light of day.
I was reading The Guardian, one of my favourite news websites, this morning when I came across this article in their ‘a letter you always wanted to write’ series. It is a letter (fictional or not I cannot say) by a husband to his wife in which he admits to his crossdressing, his ‘waste’ of money and the associated betrayal.
What is really sad for me is that he promises to ‘to “forsake all others”’ including himself. In other words he is promising to stop crossdressing. I find this sad because the truth is that the need to dress is often too strong. With all the will in the world most of us cannot stop. Having admitted a betrayal and having sworn to never betray her again, he is, I believe, setting them all up for more heartache. He will relapse, this will result in more guilt, more secrecy and further anguish.
Why do we all see crossdressing as so bad? Sure it is unusual. Yes, the lies and deceit are a problem, but is the crossdressing in and of itself so bad? Is it on a par with drug or alcohol addiction? Is it as bad as having an affair? Is it as bad as neglecting your family by spending every weekend playing golf or engaging in some other activity? I would argue that it is not and that a marriage can easily accommodate crossdressing in the same way that other activities are accommodated. Ground rules are laid, budgets are agreed upon and activities are shared. In fact it can bring some people closer together whilst in other relationships it can give spouses the time and space to pursue their own interests and generate renewed interest in each other.
What is required is tolerance and acceptance, honesty and a commitment to the marriage. By trying to stop doing something that is innate and clearly very much a part of our makeup, we simply increase our chances of making ourselves and our spouses more unhappy. I would encourage spouses to try and be as accepting and accommodating as possible. Yes, it is not a ‘typical hobby’. But it is hardly the worst possible thing a life partner can do. I would encourage the gender non-conforming partner to consider their spouse, try and avoid the inevitable selfishness and be as caring ad attentive as possible.
Marriage requires compromise, but there are some things that are not actually possible to compromise on. Surely it is better to be truthful and accept the truth than try and hold people to commitments that they cannot keep?