Trans Widows Escape Committee 2- The Trans Widows Strike Back..

(946 Posts)
TinselAngel Sun 06-Jan-19 12:47:11

The previous thread is nearly full, so here is a shiny new one.

I'm thrilled that this took off enough to merit a second thread.

This is a support area for women who are, or have been, in unhappy relationships with male partners who are transitioning, or exploring their "gender identity" hmm

If you are in that position-
1. You are not alone
2. It is not a situation that you should be expected to tolerate, let alone celebrate.
3. There is always a way out, if you want it. The thread is called Escape Committee for that reason.

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TinselAngel Sun 06-Jan-19 12:47:50

Here is a link to the original thread:
Trans Widows escape committee

OP’s posts: |
socialworker222 Mon 07-Jan-19 10:45:47

Welcome everyone; this has been such a helpful thread for me. I hope it helps you too.

Scientistranswidow Mon 07-Jan-19 17:36:38

It is 12 years since my now ex-husband left us, saying simply "It's true. I'm a transsexual", nothing more. But I can remember the unexplained taunting with rebukes ("gas-lighting"), the surliness, the immaturity, the capriciousness of his behaviour as if it was yesterday. I was so floored by his insanity that at the end I meekly accepted a conviction for common assault when it was HE who had assaulted ME - occasioning Actual Bodily Harm! It takes a long time to regain calm and belief in yourself.

Italiangreyhound Mon 07-Jan-19 20:06:55

TinselAngel well done for creating this second thread.

As you know I am not a trans widow but very supportive of all of you. I lurk and de-lurk as I feel is appropriate and I hope anything I say is appropriate and encouraging, because my main reason for being here is I just hate injustice and want you fabulous women to live the best lives you can, always. thanks

FWRLurker Mon 07-Jan-19 20:15:52

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

TinselAngel Mon 07-Jan-19 20:42:54

I hadn't registered that your husband desisted and that you are still together Lurker. Does he engage in any cross dressing etc now?

I should also reintroduce myself. I'm over five years on from leaving my ex husband who transitioned shortly after we split.

What I remember most are the lies, the continual boundary pushing and the gradual escalation into complete self obsession.

OP’s posts: |
FWRLurker Mon 07-Jan-19 21:48:56

I hadn't registered that your husband desisted and that you are still together Lurker. Does he engage in any cross dressing etc now?

Nope. I honestly wouldn't care if he did. And, no, if lurkers are watching, I didn't bully or coerce him in any way to desist. I used the names and pronouns he asked me to, I was polite and empathetic and tried my best to understand his PoV and was 100% onboard the lib fem trans train. I even told him I wasn't sure if I could stay attracted to him after he became a woman since I'm straight facepalm.

I did ask some innocent questions about my own childhood as a tomboy really hoping he could explain how that was different than what he experienced. He couldn't.

I changed my view mostly based on reading and listening to stories form other women who had been in my situation, only had it worse. There was a transwidow story on feminist current from a year or so ago that really peaked me...

TinselAngel Mon 07-Jan-19 22:17:18

Well we say "fuck off" to any such lurkers around here, so don't worry about that.

If you've genuinely both managed to move on and you're both happy with that then that's great.

I thought I was at the same stage on more than one occasion in my marriage, but then he started doing it again. He'd never got as far as hormones etc though as it's a lengthier process in the UK. He started the hormones shortly after we split.

I don't hold myself up as an expert, but just steel yourself Lurker that it might not be over, as it generally isn't.

Lies, concealment, compromise, boundary pushing, further compromise, more lies and boundary pushing is the pattern I have observed.

I'd be interested to know if the pattern was the same for you in the lead up to his eventually aborted transition, but understand if you don't want to rake over it all. thanks

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Oldermum156 Mon 07-Jan-19 23:16:39

Hi, nice to see the new thread! I can't be on during the weekend much, he is home all weekend and I have no privacy at all.
I could get the book on a kindle through one of the credit cards in my name only, I did that with another non-approved book once (Sheila Jeffries, a forbidden name round here). My kindle is hidden at the bottom of a junk drawer.

TinselAngel Mon 07-Jan-19 23:22:52

I'd recommend Lundy Bancroft too if that's available on Kindle- you can also use the Kindle app on a phone.

OP’s posts: |
TinselAngel Mon 07-Jan-19 23:26:45

But don't do anything that will jeopardise your safety Older thanks

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Badgerthebodger Mon 07-Jan-19 23:35:07

I just wanted to pop in and say I’m thinking of you all. I don’t like to comment really as it’s not a thread for me, but I do want you all to know how much I admire your grace and your courage. You are all wonderful women and I hope you all find happiness for yourselves. Oldermum stay safe flowers for you all.

QuietContraryMary Tue 08-Jan-19 02:06:16

Bit here

A bit confusing but basically TW given suspended jail sentence for harassing wife. Also refuses to sign divorce papers.

FWRLurker Tue 08-Jan-19 05:01:25

Lies, concealment, compromise, boundary pushing, further compromise, more lies and boundary pushing is the pattern I have observed.

One good thing I can say about my experience is that he never lied about the gender stuff. He told me about it from the moment he first had an inkling and I was there with him throughout. For example, he never cross dressed without my knowledge/permission - he told me the very night he did it the first time. He's lied to me about other things (drinking) but not this.

I'm really sorry about your narcissistic abusive partner that lies, gaslights you, and pushes your boundaries. That's unacceptable. It seems that there is a pattern - either many narcissists like the idea of taking over their wife's life in the most literal way possible, OR that having to live the deception that they are actually a woman makes them into liars in other aspects of life.

nojellybabies Tue 08-Jan-19 10:40:30

Great interview on women’s hour right now

R0wantrees Tue 08-Jan-19 11:02:54

current thread:

TinselAngel Tue 08-Jan-19 18:49:43

I just listened to the Woman's Hour piece is it's very similar to my own story.

If you've been lurking around here "Michelle", thanks so much for telling your story. thanks

I'm so sad and angry about how our voices are hidden and silenced so we have to be anonymous, but theirs are brave and stunning and bloody everywhere.

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StartAgainat60 Wed 09-Jan-19 04:17:22

Hi. Thanks for the new post.
I've messaged months ago.
Still in it. But talking serious separation. DH is suffering mentally and has been trying to hold it together living a double life. DH at home and femme while away on business.
Just had the most awful Christmas.
I haven't been strong enough to move on with my life.
But just last night, we had the separation talk and planning to sell the house.
Neither of us has wanted the alternative. But my mental wellbeing is suffering. So exhausting living with a Transhusband.
How does it look like on the single side of life? And can you ever leave the past behind?

Leggedit Wed 09-Jan-19 15:17:15

I am here via the Woman's Hour piece (thank you Michelle if you lurk).
I won't go into too many details but I too am a transwidow; a few years out of a long marriage with adult children. My ex transitioned and has had surgery. We are on reasonably friendly terms but I find the victimhood and self obsession tiresome at times.
Life is much more peaceful now with no chaos or drama. I do sometimes feel sad for the life I thought I was going to have and for the impact on the children, although they seem to have coped admirably. However I am well out of it, having had the usual internal debate about whether I should try to stay and support, etc. I was subjected to the same old story of boundary pushing, narcissism, suicide threats etc.
I am glad of any support for wives/partners of people going through this. I did get a lot of moral support from the WOBS online group but it's virtually folded now I believe.
I really feel for people in the throes of this as it is awful. I sometimes try to tell myself that women get divorced all the time but there is something particular to this scenario.
I also genuinely feel sorry for anyone who is trans in this current climate: internet cheerleaders encouraging surgery, radical activists shutting down intelligent debate and even research. I think that in the future, society will consider hormones and surgery to be a barbaric treatment. I do not envy parents of youngsters with trans issues.
I wish you all well with what you are contending with and for me, getting out was the best decision, even though I was the one who had to make it. As a friend said to me 'he's leaving you really'.

StartAgainat60 Wed 09-Jan-19 15:41:34

I can say I am already feeling better regarding my future without this constant angst in my life. He wants us both to go to the supermarket etc as two women- he is over six foot and I am 5'2. He doesn't understand how uncomfortable that would be for me!!. I have said it til I'm blue in the face that it isn't going to happen. As I have read, There is life beyond this madness, go find it.
Thank you MNetters for your support and inspiration.

Scientistranswidow Wed 09-Jan-19 15:54:11

StartAgainat60: How does it look like on the single side of life? And can you ever leave the past behind?
You never leave the past behind because you are sane, but you do feel better bit by bit each day. The crushing feeling eases and one day you realise that it is no longer there. I am saying this 12 years after he left us. You are, of course, not "single" ever again because you took on children and financial responsibilities which are now part of who you are. But you are soon thinking independently without a mad person looking over your shoulder. And you can even occasionally forget him. You get a more normal life - which is what I wish for you and everyone flowers !

PencilsInSpace Wed 09-Jan-19 19:20:11

Hi all, I did a transcript of 'Michelle's' very moving Woman's Hour interview earlier and Tinsel has requested I post it here ...

Transcript part 1:

Jane Garvey: Now, as I mentioned, we are looking at the impact of transitioning on marriage and family relationships. Now yesterday if you heard the show, you'll have heard Stephanie Jones, a former fire officer and parent who, when she transitioned from male to female, became as she describes it, a stranger in her own home.

Today, the experience of a woman we're calling 'Michelle'. Now she has chosen to be anonymous and her words have been voiced up by an actor. Her ex-husband transitioned after they'd been married for 16 years. I asked her why she wanted to talk about what had happened.

Michelle: I really wanted to talk about it because women in my position currently are not heard and we're not really allowed to say how this feels. This blows our life apart and there doesn't seem to be any voice for the collateral damage. Some transactivists are frightening, aggressive. Women have been threatened for just saying that this is not a positive experience for us. I have no problem with people wanting to rewrite their own history, to relabel themselves as they wish. I don't know they have the right to rewrite my ... my life, my history.

There's a very articulate transwidow, as a lot of us call ourselves, because really, the man we knew has gone. It's a sort of living bereavement. He's gone but he's still walking around. A woman called Shannon Thrace has a TED Talk and she said, 'you know, I experienced my life with this heterosexual man, I wasn't a lesbian, and I was expected overnight to change my sexuality and rewrite my own story.' That's why I refer to my husband as 'he'. It's not to be controversial or political, but that's what I know, that's my lived experience. His feelings and experiences are valid and true and worthy of respect but I think mine should be too.

This is really equal rights. It isn't talked about. Most of the media coverage of families is about successful transitions where families stay together and there are lots and lots of us where that hasn't happened and actually, women and children are estranged from people who have done this.

JG: And you feel you have to stay anonymous?

M: Absolutely. It is terrifying that I couldn't possibly give my identity. I have had to be very careful about the details that I share. To me, that seems quite absurd that we are in a situation where I've experienced a really - and my children have - a really traumatic life event and we're not allowed to talk about it for fear of retribution, for fear of physical violence. Ironically, you know, transgender people were silenced for years and years, generations, decades, and it's strange really that now, people close to them who don't feel great about the experience, are silenced too.

JG: Just tell me a little bit Michelle about your marriage, how was it?

M: Well, I thought it was OK. It had its usual ups and downs, it was about 16 years long and at times things were difficult but I don't think that was unusual. I thought we were fairly close, we talked about quite personal things, you know, what we wanted for the future, our vulnerabilities, our childhoods. My husband wasn't a particularly macho bloke but at no point in my marriage did I see any signs at all of what was to come. And we had children, when he dropped the bombshell they were all in their early teens. So, we met in our thirties, we were very much in love, he was a kind, gentle, funny, clever man.

JG: What did happen then?

M: Well, with hindsight I now realise that he was someone who was always restless and dissatisfied and quite introspective. He didn't really settle to careers and hobbies and things like that and I did wonder why that was, and I think as a spouse you often wonder if you're the problem and you're deficient in some way. As an example, when I turned 40 I felt I'd arrived in my life, I had everything I needed and wanted, but I never had a sense that he had really reached a point of being contented. And then, I realise now that he started to detach himself from the family a bit, about six months before he came out, if you like. He started sleeping in the spare room, saying he was tired and we were disrupting each other's sleep. I didn't see it as a big deal.

The first thing that happened that caused me to wonder what was going on was on my own iPad, and I do wonder now if he deliberately did this so that I'd find it, I used to have a history bar that shows you all the sites you've visited and I was looking for a booking I had made and I found a very odd page advertising a dress that men could buy that would shape them to look like a woman. Now I only have daughters so there was only really one person who could have been looking at that, and at no point did I think, 'goodness, he must be transgender.'

I brought up with him how he was generally and he said he was very unsure about his identity. He was very vague and I didn't want to deal with that at the time, I didn't take it seriously, I'm not proud of that. So I said maybe you should go and talk to somebody different from me, you know, go and see a counsellor, which he did, and I'm an optimist and I know a lot about trans issues because of my career, I work often with transgender people.

JG: What do you do Michelle?

M: I work in the health service and it's worth saying that because I am in no way transphobic. I fear this interview will cause people to be very offended or angry, you know, I work with trans people quite regularly. So, I had a sort of list really, I thought maybe he's a cross-dresser, maybe he's a man who finds it erotic to dress up in women's clothing. There are lots of those men, it's also known as autogynaephilia. It's not much talked about and I thought, what would I do as a spouse if he was somebody who wanted to go away in private and dress up as a woman, or go to a special club or go for the odd weekend - would I tolerate that? I don't know. What would I do as a spouse if he came to me and said, 'actually this is something I find arousing and I want to do it with you involved.' Would I tolerate that? Probably not. Right at the bottom of my list was him being transgender and I disregarded it entirely. So, for a couple of months he went to counselling and again, I just got on with it. I have kids, I have a job.

JG: Can I ask, in that period of your marriage, were you intimate in any way? I don't just mean sexually, although I suppose I do also mean that, I mean were you affectionate? Were you still talking?

M: We were, and I don't think it was for the sake of the kids. We were very good at covering all of this up from our kids when it was going on. I still felt that we - I mean actually - well, into the beginning of our divorce - we were kind to each other, we were supportive, we interacted, but there was this secret thing going on in his life which, yeah, was the elephant in the room really and I was just biding my time, waiting for him to come back to me with what this all meant.

JG: And how were the children during this time?

M: Well I don't think they noticed anything. When it came to the moment where we told them, my husband said, 'It's OK, I think they'll have guessed that something's very wrong.'

PencilsInSpace Wed 09-Jan-19 19:20:44

Transcript part 2:

JG: Told them what? That he was -

M: That he was - wanted to become a woman. So when that moment came later on down the line he thought they would - well, would have guessed, that the atmosphere was problematic. I didn't and I was right, the children had no idea. So I think we did a really good job - and I think so many women can relate to this - a really good job of carrying on as usual when something like this is going on in your marriage.

JG: So did your husband tell them himself, or did you tell them?

M: So, after he told me we did agree that we should tell them. So his family didn't believe it, they thought this was a fad, a mid-life crisis, mental illness, and they strongly wanted us not to tell the kids. They wanted us just to say that we were having a temporary separation, and actually we agreed together that we needed to tell them the full story. I think children fill in the gaps and they worry it's something to do with them, so we sat them down and told them two things, which may have been overload. We told them we were separating and then he told them that he - he believed he was a woman.

JG: And at that point did he leave or was he still living with you?

M: He stayed for a few weeks and we had a fairly difficult family holiday, which I thought again, we covered up very well [laughs] and now my children have said, 'Mum, it was really obvious, you'd go out of the cottage and come back and you'd been crying.' And then he moved out.

JG: Because he wanted to or because you wanted him to?

M: Because I wanted him to. So the way he told me - he handed me a letter. I was leaving for work and he said, 'I haven't found a way of telling you this so I've written it down,' and it said, 'I'm a woman. I'm going to seek medical intervention soon. I want to stay with you, I want to continue our marriage. I think it'll be OK for the kids in the current climate.' This was 2015 so the trans media coverage was exploding at this time.

I felt that letter had a strong sense of entitlement. He rather assumed that this would be OK, it wouldn't be that big a deal, he's only changing his outward self. And I think it's something that people don't understand, is that when your partner does this, it should just be that it's your partner wearing different clothes but it really isn't. There are so many women talking on the web about their experiences of this, and actually, you get a whole new person. People's whole characters change often and they behave in ways that the previous person never did, and that's certainly what happened to me.

I felt terribly betrayed. I think anyone that's lived with someone that's had a secret or told lies - it throws the whole marriage, your whole history into doubt. You wonder, how long did they know? I mean, he said he'd known as a child and then buried it until recent years. And over time I started to feel angry, which I'm not proud of, but I was really angry with him that he had put his own wishes before the children. It felt very self indulgent. I think anger was helpful and it was very galvanising. It helped me to be very practical in breaking up and in making decisions.

I also felt very ashamed and embarrassed. I thought that people would somehow think I should have known all along. And it's very isolating, I didn't know anyone else this had happened to, and this is the position that my teenagers find themselves in. They don't know anybody with this, I mean lots of other people's dads have left to go off with other women, but nobody's dad has done this. I should have been a really good candidate for staying with a man who did this, I'm a paid up, Guardian reading leftie, I work in this kind of field, but I now unfortunately doubt pretty much everything he said and were I to ask him, frankly I don't know if I would believe what he told me. So you do feel terribly betrayed, not helped by the fact that he wasn't himself distressed.

Since then, the notion that all people that come out as trans are heroic and brave, I'm afraid doesn't really wash with me. I didn't really feel it was brave to write me a letter and run away. He didn't sit with me and talk to me, listen to my questions, I was entirely alone processing that piece of information. I've asked him about how he felt, was he depressed? Was this a dealbreaker? Would he be suicidal if he couldn't transition? I'm well aware that trans have a high suicide risk. He was truly ... calm. Fairly cheerful, not distressed, didn't show really any empathy or regard for my distress, it was fairly extraordinary. Crucially, he never apologised, he didn't feel he should because then he would be apologising for who he really is. He was beyond dealing with me and my distress. I think probably he was elated that he was now liberated to do this. He was in a completely different place and probably had sort of mentally accepted that he might well have to leave.

JG: What about your children and their relationship with their father now?

M: It is completely, sadly, estranged. So they didn't talk a lot, I think anyone with teenagers will know how difficult it is to make them talk. They started to have contact with him at weekends and very quickly they started to erode their time with him, so they would say, 'Oh maybe we'll go late or come home early and I don't really want to stay the night.' They just made excuses and I didn't want to interfere. I think a lot of women whose kids visit non-resident fathers will know that we are often blamed for disrupting contact, controlling - alienating children, and I was very keen not to do that.

JG: Have you spoken to his family about this?

M: His parents were very opposed to me divorcing. They again, I think, didn't think it would really happen. I needed to bide my time. I knew, I knew this would happen. I knew he was hell bent on doing it so I initiated a very rapid divorce and I think his family were very angry with that. And I tried very hard to keep my kids' relationship with their grandparents and cousins going. I fully have great intentions on that front and that's absolutely the right thing to do, as also with their father, but it's been very awkward - been very awkward for the kids because allegiances are struck, aren't they, when people divorce.

JG: Do you have contact with your ex-husband now?

M: I have virtually none, occasional emails I used to have about money, things like that. I haven't spoken to him for about two years but I see him in the street as his new incarnation, I see him at close range.

JG: Has he transitioned?

M: He has, he has. I don't know how fully but I know he's - you know, was fully intending to pursue that process, and he certainly is entirely dressed that way and has changed his name and so on. And as a feminist, I had a lot of problems with it, I had a problem with his sort of excitement at wearing skirts and removing all his body hair [laughs] I'm the sort of woman that puts the bins out and goes into pubs on my own. It doesn't make any sense to me and we raised our daughters not to have that stereotypical view of what it means to be a woman. It's blown my life apart, you know, I think that's my real, lived experience. None of us are telling lies about this, we have no reason to.

JG: That's Michelle - not her real name, not her voice - describing her experiences when her ex-husband wanted to transition. Go to BBC Sounds, you can hear yesterday's show which includes the piece by Stephanie Jones, voiced by an actor, where she describes the impact her transition had on her and her family. There is another side of course, Avril says, 'I'm still with my husband, who's now my wife. She's three years into her transition, I love her dearly and not all relationships fail. Would be nice if you could include positive stories too, I'm not alone.' I'm sure you're not Avril and we want all shades of opinion and all experiences. Email the programme via the website if you have stayed happily with a partner who's transitioned.

FWRLurker Wed 09-Jan-19 19:36:05

I also genuinely feel sorry for anyone who is trans in this current climate: internet cheerleaders encouraging surgery, radical activists shutting down intelligent debate and even research. I think that in the future, society will consider hormones and surgery to be a barbaric treatment. I do not envy parents of youngsters with trans issues.

This so much. My story is different in that my husband is a decent sort and in fact he no longer identifies as Trans. But oh my god, the internet brainwashing I saw him experience...

"I feel bad about being a guy, I'm super depressed and have been for a long time, and I don't like my body. Plus I wore women's clothes once and I felt really great. I think I might be trans."

"If you're asking that question at all you probably are, hon! Cis people don't ask themselves if they are trans, sweety!!"

"How do I know for sure?"

"I wasn't sure until I took hormones - hormones are magic!"

"I'm on hormones I got from the an informed consent clinic, and I feel pretty good! I guess I really am trans. But everyone still thinks I'm a guy..."

"That's so awesome sweety!! Give the hormones time to work their magic and you'll be fine. For now some new clothes will do wonders for your confidence!!! And its cool a lot of ladies need a bit of FFS to pass so don't worry <3 <3 <3"


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