Transgender Family Members
Archived Q&A and Reviews
|Questions & Advice||
Born a girl, our young adult child will be undergoing gender reassignment surgery within the year. Yes, all the counseling, etc., has been completed, and testosterone treatment begins this month. This will be under the UC health system, and I'm looking for advice and/or recommendations on affiliated surgeons to ask for or avoid. Information on good experiences and bad experiences equally appreciated, so this dad can help advise who to ask for. Thanks in advance for any help. Please keep negative comments (I would not expect them here, but you never know) to yourself.
My young adult stepson had his top surgery at Kaiser and they were absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately I don't think that is an option for you, but I wanted to assure you this is easier than you think. I was so scared. He has not had bottom surgery, so I can't help you there; I'd check with this guy: https://2015genderspectrumconference.sched.org/speaker/curtis_n_crane.1ty51u2v#.ViURnBCrRE4 (if the link doesn't work -- Curtis Crane, MD).
I'm so glad you are on this journey with your child. As you've probably already learned, a supportive family is one of the most important factors in your child's success, happiness, and healthiness.
As far as finding a surgeon (I think you are looking for someone to do phalloplasty or metoidoplasty if I'm getting this correct), I think there's really only one great option, and that is Curtis Crane. He has a long waiting list. He's world famous. People literally come from all over the world and we're lucky he's here in the Bay Area. There are some other options in the US that aren't as good, and there are some options in other countries that are also great but definitely best if you have insurance coverage to go with Dr. Crane.
If I got the surgery wrong and you are looking for someone to do vaginoplasty, there are more good options out there. Crane and his associates are still a great option. Marci Bowers is also great and she's local as well.
My husband told me that he thinks he is transgender. We have a 3yo and an infant. We are staying together, but I need to find a therapist I can talk about this with. I'm looking for someone with experience dealing with the issues of transgender families, transition within relationships, and transitioning with kids. SF would be best. Thanks!
Diane Ehrensaft is a psychologist in Oakland who specializes in treatment around gender issues. Her website is http://www.dianeehrensaft.com/. She is a very supportive and nurturing woman I recommend her highly. Jessica L
Please check Gaylesta.org, which is the Bay Area's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender therapist association. They have a referral service and a good listing of therapists who deal with such issues. Click on Locate a Therapist, then search by location or zip code. I hope this helps. Let me know if you need further information. Guy A.
After more than 5 years of marriage, with one child and a baby on the way within a month, I discovered that my husband cross- dresses for sexual pleasure. I found a stocking package in the garbage, and (after a lot of questioning) it was all revealed: his active fantasy life as a provocatively dressed women and his secret cache of clothes, with $1300 spent on stilettos, lingerie, outfits and other paraphernalia just in the last year. Our marriage has basically been of the low-sex variety, and we have talked about it a lot (and I have cried about it a lot), but he never told me about his secret life. Looking back, I now see that he invested almost all his sexual energy into cross-dressed masturbation.
He maintains that he is heterosexual and has no desire to really be a woman. He maintains that he doesn\x92t have a name for this woman he dresses up as, and that he has no interest in going out in public as a female or in talking with other transvestites. He feels ashamed, embarrassed, and very sorry for the hurt he has caused me. He says that he wants to save our marriage, above all. He has been willing to answer almost all of my many questions, though I continue to catch him in lies about some of the details of his purchases and activities. He has also been making a good effort sexually: since the revelations a few weeks ago, we have probably had more sex than in the past two or three years combined.
He says he is willing to go to therapy and to stop crossdressing, though everything I have read says that it will be very difficult (or impossible) for him to stop doing it. He has done it since he was a teenager. As for my part, I do not feel willing to \x93accept\x94 what he does. I want to be with a person who is more turned on by me than by looking at himself in high heels and a miniskirt. In my view, his selfish pleasures have been the source of my pain and loneliness, and I feel strongly that it is him who should change, not me. Has anyone been in this situation, or a similar one? Can I reasonably hope that he can and will change? A cross-dresser's wife
First I want to say that I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. My story is a bit different but involved being married to a sex addict. I found great support in 12 Step programs for this. There are two groups that I know of COSA (Co-sex addict anonymous and COSLAA (Co-sex and love addicts anonymous). Both groups are to support those affected by the actions of a sex addict in their life. The meetings are closed to the addict. I found it a very safe place for me to recover from the shock and hurt that came from the discovery of my husband's secret life. I know that they have meetings at Mandana House in Oakland, you can also google either group and find local meetings. Remember it can't hurt to go to a meeting and see if it is for you... if nothing else you will know you are not alone. Anon
My dad was a crossdresser for most of his life and would describe it himself as an addiction that eventually he had to kick. It took him about 30 yrs to do that, and on the way caused much family stress and blew a ton of money on clothes, make up etc. I also dated a man who was a crossdresser and I thought that i was okay with it.
I soon realised though that there is a self obsession tied up in crossdressing that I couldn't live with. I really felt jealousy for the ''other woman'' that he was obsessed with. On the other hand, i know lots of women manage to stay in relationships like this. I think it comes down to how the issue is communicated about and understood between teh two of you. Therapy will not change your husband's fetish but it can help with the communication between you both around the issue. Even then you may feel this is something you cannot live with. You didn't enter into the marriage knowing this about your husband; you need to reassess the situation. crossdressers daughter
I really feel for you, having seen my sister go through a similar situation. She married her husband 15 years ago -even after she found him wearing her underwear. No one in our family knew, but she was unhappy for most of her marriage. Although they were compatible in many ways, sexually they weren't. He hid his cross dressing until a year before they divorced, when she discovered his secret cache of clothing. She tried to make it work, but in therapy, he felt comfortable enough to reveal that he would prefer to make love with her in his feminine garb. She wasn't comfortable with that but to top it off, he was having an affair. Like your husband, he, too, was ashamed of his interest in crossdressing and apparently the other woman did not know and so he could ''pretend'' with her that he was ''normal''. I can only suggest to you that you talk to a professional about this. In my sister's case, they also had a very low sex life and he showed distaste for her body, only exhibiting an interest in the superficial, girly clothes and perfume she wore. She is now divorced and only regrets that she waited so long and ignored many signs. They have one child who is in the dark about this - the therapist suggested they wait until she was older. With him, it also started at a young age (as a choirboy, he loved the feeling of the cassock against his legs). My sister felt very alone but learned that there are a lot of couples handling this - it just wasn't for her. anon
Try to get into it, seriously. It's clear that the idea doesn't turn you on, but it really won't go away or do any good to try and suppress it. It's also totally ok and not that unusual for a straight guy, by the way. So my advice is for you to try and be a little open minded about it. Set a day each month, to start, where he can call the shots and play out his fetish with you in costume. With time he can work up to full regalia. And it might just awaken something in you, too. Remember that this is something special to him, and sharing it is special and hard.
You said: ''I feel strongly that it is him who should change, not me.'' In my opinion and experience, any time there is a conflict, both people in the relationship have to change, or else it's not really going to work.
Really, he will love you all the more for accepting this part of him. But do start slowly so that you really get comfortable with it all. No sense in either of you being dishonest. Kink's Not Bad
CDW, You are in a difficult place. I would imagine that this entire experience has shaken the foundations of trust of your relationship. Having this ''out'' is an important first step of change and healing. The fact that your husband has started to let you know what has been going on for the last five years, and is open to working on himself and values the marriage are all good signs. Work with a trusted therapist is essential. Ben
My husband, who passed last year at a fairly young age (59), was secretly bisexual and acted on it throughout our marriage. I found this out only after his death. If you had asked me when he was alive about his sexuality, I would have said that he was extremely sexual, because that's how he was with me. We had a great sex life. It never occurred to me that he had another large facet to his life outside of our relationship.
Since I found out about his secret, it has made me realize that perhaps we never really know some people, even our mate; and do we really need to know everything? Well, if our safety from HIV is concerned, yes of course. If we find out these ''awful'' secrets, is it our right to feel utterly betrayed and to demand changes in behavior and what secrets do we have, the ''normal'' half of the relationship? Sexuality is a very complex and a very slippery slope; some people exist at many levels of sexual activity, interest, response, at the same time. For them it feels ''normal.'' Is this wrong? Susan
My understanding is that, in fact, your husband will probably not be able to ''change.'' He is a transvestite, and cannot ''change'' that, anymore than he could change being human.
I was saddened to hear that you choose to see the lack of sex in your relationship as being a result of his ''selfish'' pleasures. Is it not possible that the lack of the sex was because he was afraid to reveal himself to you? After all, transvestitism is extremely misunderstood, and usually reviled.
I do think your husband was extremely irresponsible not to have revealed this to you BEFORE you got married. He had no business entering a marriage without knowing how you would feel about his transvetitism once you found out (instead, perhaps fooling himself into believing he could hide it from you forever).
But how are *you* not being selfish right back? Are you willing to make any effort to learn to accept who and what he is and see if you cannot learn to incorporate that into your sex-life with him? How is it loving to say ''you change who you are to accomodate me, so I don't have to learn to accomodate you.''
Here of course, is the problem with his not revealing himself to you before you got married: you may be some one who is unable to accept him as he is, and cannot enjoy sex with a transvestite - he had a responsibility to find out and move on when he found out that you weren't interested in learning to understand his ''peculiarity.''
It seems to me that for your marriage to continue to grow and be happy, there needs to be MUTUAL understanding, acceptance and willingness to grow (change) and explore. I'm afraid it is simply not realistic to expect it to be all one-sided: you are responsible for doing your part, and doing your own ''work'' and soul-searching. Good luck. Anonymous
I'm sure many people will write with the information that this kind of fetish usually runs pretty deep and attempts to change or stop it will probably result in repression and deep unhappiness--which I'm sure sounds very discouraging. But perhaps there is a way to find a compromise between total acceptance and total rejection of this aspect of yor husband. I recommend the book *The other side of the closet: The coming-out crisis for straight spouses* by Amity Buxton. Although this book is geared more for hetero people with gay, lesbian, or bisexual spouses,rather than transvestites, it offers a lot of helpful models and insights about how to deal with the revelation that your spouse has a different sexuality than you thought. The first sentence of the first chapter reads ''When the initial shock subsides, straight spouses are typically devastated by what seems like a rejection of their sexuality...'', which sounds very much like what you are dealing with right now. I hope it helps. anon
This is a very difficult situation, but to me it sounds like things are already looking up and could get better because of his revelation.
You've had a longterm, seemingly unsolveable problem of not enough sex in your marriage, and finally you're having more sex, since you found out about your husband's fetish. You attribute this to his ''making a good effort''. There might be more to it though. Now that he's shared his fetish with you, he might be more able to relate to you with his whole sexual self, no longer keeping his sexuality hidden away along with his shameful secret.
You might be the first person he has ever revealed this to. Try to be gentle with him about his fetish. From everything I've experienced or read, it is not really possible for a person to change what turns them on. But anyone can try new approaches to sex without giving up the old way. He hasn't done anything really bad, like cheating or gambling away all your money. He hid his fetish partly out of fear of being judged. Now that he's told you, it will be a challenge for you not to condemn him and his fetish. But if you resist that urge and give yourself time to digest the situation, it could make your marriage and sex lives a lot better.
This is an opportunity for both of you to open up sexually, to yourselves and each other. Everyone has things that turn them on. Many (or perhaps most?)people have something a little silly or embarrassing that turns them on. It's theoretically possible for you to accept your husband's fetish and even indulge it or participate in it in some way (only he could tell you how to do that). At the same time, you can make it clear you want him to indulge your sexual proclivities too. Maybe you don't have any unusual or secret desire, but you might like something (just making this up) like more hugging, or him telling you you're beautiful, or him changing his hairstyle or wearing a tailored button-down red shirt or... anything.
Since you are so upset, and since he kept this a secret for so long, it might help if you talked to a sex therapist, or did some reading about things like this. Good places to start are Good Vibrations for books, or San Francisco Sex Information for free telephone couseling. Both have websites. I don't know how to find a good sex therapist, but no doubt other people will respond with that info. Good luck!
I am sorry you and your husband are having this issue. I think both of you should be in therapy together with a therapist that understands this issue. Also, come on, this is the BAY AREA, there has to be a support group for couples that are going through this! Please try to be creative about this. Please don't expect your husband to change. He obviously loves you and is heterosexual. Give yourself some time to live with the issue and to discuss the closeted aspect of it with your husband so that he is not driving all of his feelings inside (and hiding spending from you too). If you don't want to go to counseling with him then find him a good counselor (Not to CHANGE HIM, but to help him cope with this issue that causes him so much conflict). I don't believe you can make this go away, but rather for the sake of your marriage and your FAMILY see if you can get some support from professionals to learn to live with it.
Sorry to be so abrupt, but thinking you can ''fix'' or ''change'' him is in my opinion rather selfish and wrongheaded. My grandfather committed suicide because he struggled with this and of course had no support because it was the 1950s and he lived in New Jersey. He hung himself in the basement and my grandmother found him there. My mother was absolutely devistated by this loss. The suicide has forever altered our family, even though I never got to meet my grandfather.
I am only sharing this because I think people with ''different'' sexual preferences can really struggle with this and somehow when you are ready he needs your support. Both of you need counseling and hopefully a support group. Ask a trained therapist to see if there is a support group available.
You can get through this together and save your marriage and family. M
Your husband has a fairly common problem. I know of other women whose husbands have this fetish. I don't think you should take it personally, especially since your husband is trying to help things. (I'm sure it's hard not to, but it's not about you, it's about him.) I suggest you join a support group or an online community where those with experience can help you work through this. Lynne
I understand why you feel confused. Your husband has not been sharing a part of his life with you. You feel like you don't know him anymore. But from your response, I can see why he didn't share this information with you sooner. He might have sensed that you would be judgemental and feel threatened by it.
Fetishes are normal. Many straight men like to dress up as women. You are only making your husband feel worse about it by treating it like it is something horrible. He's not going to stop wanting to dress up like a woman because you don't want him to. If he stops doing it because you asked him to, he's going to feel resentful of you. If he continues but hides it from you, he's going to feel guilty and ashamed. The only emotionally healthy thing for him is to be with someone who accepts him for who he is. So you need to decide if you can get used to the fact that he enjoys dressing up like a woman or if you need to leave the relationship.
You correlate his dressing up like a woman and masturbating with the two of you not having sex together, but I don't think those are necessarily related. I think that open communication and honesty leads to feelings of intimacy between partners. If you don't have the feelings of intimacy, you don't want to have sex as much. He was hiding his fetish from you, so he was blocking the lines of communication. But I think you need to forgive him for not telling you sooner, especially considering your initial reaction when you found out. Focus on understanding. Have some heart-to-heart conversations about it. Read about it. Go to therapy (both of you). Don't make a hasty decision.
This whole thing may seem overwhelming now, but I think it's an opportunity to make your relationship richer. The man you married is still in front of you. You made a lifetime commiment to him. Try your hardest to embrace him for who he is. Good Luck!
I read all the responses you received about your husband's transvestism and I was warmed by how even-keeled all of the responses were. I am so proud of the Bay Area!! You have a right to have your feelings--whatever they are--about your husband's crossdressing, just as his desire for crossdressing is valid. You are involved with someone who enjoys things you didn't know about before you married him, so it makes sense that you feel shocked and betrayed. He feels a great deal of shame around this issue, so it is hard for him too.
I was thinking about this, and I realized that we never really know what we are in for when we enter relationships. People do change, and we do learn new things about each other. The beauty of this is that much of this involves growth for both parties. A friend of mine and I have a saying: ''I HATE learning experiences!'' And it's true--they are always painful and awkward.
But we move through them. If you can let just a little bit of light into your current ''learning experience,'' you may be surprised at how good about yourself you will feel when you allow yourself to heal from it all.
I got involved with a man who was ravenous for me before we settled down, but now has practically no interest in sex with me at all. It certainly wasn't what I bargained for when I moved in with him! But I am trying to learn about myself in this situation, to understand all the different ways of responding. I know, ''crossdressing'' sounds much more scary than ''no sexual interest,'' but we are in similar situations: You and I both have partners whose sexuality is not the same as it was when we settled down (or at least what we ''thought'' it was). You are grappling with a lot right now--when you feel really angry at him, try to realize that he didn't choose to have this fetish--he was just made that way. It might help you feel more patient. Take good care of yourself. anonymous
I think that it's pretty evident that now that your husbands'fetish' is out in the open and you guys are actually having sex, that his disclosure has already helped your relationship! I hope that you can not only be comfortable with the idea, but embrace it! I mean, what fun you can have if you try to ...get into the idea! Good luck!
I am looking for help and support as a wife of a trangendered husband. Early in our relationship he revealed that he liked wearing women\x92s shoes, etc. (especially in private) and I was totally fine with that. As we have evolved as individuals and as a couple, he has gradually become more androgynous and goes out sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman, though at this point he does not plan to transition fully. We also have a new baby and this is playing into the dynamic as well. I love him very much but am feeling very alone about the issue and would love to find support or suggestions from others who have been through something similar. Anon.
My sister discovered that her husband liked to wear women's clothes early in their marriage. Coming from a conservative, sheltered background, I have to give her credit;she tried to make it work, but eventually the combination of issues related to the cross-dressing (he liked to wear lingerie for sex and padded his bra) as well as other problems in general in the marriage, led her to seek a divorce. You don't say how comfortable your husband is with his orientation - my brother in law was very secretive and projected out a lot of insecurity and hostility. At the time, I found that there are numerous websites and support groups you can sign up for. You're not alone. anon
Your husband and you may benefit from joining in the discussions on Our Family Coalition, based here in the Bay Area. See: http:www.ourfamily.org and sign up for the listserv and/or view the resources list. There are many similar families in this organization and your questions will meet with many experienced responses. Gender identity consists of a wide continuum of feelings and practices, so don't be marginalized or feel like you're the only ones out there with this situation. Seek information and contact with others who are living similarly. You are fortunate to be in this area, take advantage of all there is to offer. Walking in the Middle
Please call the Pacific Center for Human Growth in Berkeley, and/or the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center. Theses organizations may be able to provifde resources for you and your husband. A Transgender family fair write up was just featured in the SF Bay Area Reporter and The Our Family Coalition Newsletter, which I would also encourage you to visit on the web. You can look these up on the Web and/or phone book. The best of everything to you all. Peace v.
No great advice, just the hope that you are able to find support and fellowship with others going through a similarly difficult time. I salute your compassion and remarkable tolerance during a painful and lonely situation. Lots of good wishes to you, your husband, and new baby.
Try PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). They have some books that they recommend plus some information that you can download. www.pflag.org They have a link to a support group for Straight spouses of LGBT persons called www.ssnetwk.org I think that there is a group that meets in the Bay Area. This will put you in touch with people who understand and can relate to your situation. Peace, Queer friend of straight people
My dad is transgendered and my parents are happily married going on 32 years. Until the late 80s my dad was a closet cross-dresser, and in his late 30s began to feel he needed to take it further (hormones, electrolosys) - Although my mom knew my dad cross-dressed she was initially against his taking it further, but they made it through that period and are happy and in love now. There's obviously a lot more depth to the story, but it's too much to write here - I'd need a lot of space. Anyway, if the woman with the transgendered husband is interesting in contacting me to learn more, she's welcome to e-mail me. anon