Seeking advice to help a friend, her fiancé is transgendered and wants to transition

I have made a new friend at work lets call her Sally, and we have bonded a bit over the last few weeks. She told me today that her fiancé is transgendered and has decided to transition to become a woman.

We only had a few minutes to talk today and all I know is that Sally is not attracted to women, she and her fiancé went somewhere and saw some ladyboys - not sure where or in what type of context and she wasn’t attracted to them either.

Sally has recently moved from interstate and as such has not yet created a network of friends. I am going to take her out for dinner tomorrow night so that we have some privacy to talk and have a glass of wine. I have only met one transgendered person before (to my knowledge) and as such have not got much experience with this kind of issue.

I am hoping that some of you lovely people my be able to give me some advice on what to say and what types of services are available for partners of transgendered people.

Not sure about your question, although if she’s not attracted to women or pre-op TGs why is she planning to marry one?

I don’t know anything more than I have outlined, I think she accepted the proposal not knowing that her fiancé is trans

Advise her to put the relationship on hold till this person gets to the final stage and figures out truly what they are. As some people on this board have mentioned when they change they really change. Meaning they like different foods, don’t have the same hobbies or interests, talk different, all kinds of things.

I echo the advice for the relationship to be put on hold, at least to the extent of not following through with marriage.

While I fully support the transition of someone who is a transsexual, the cisgender part of this relationship is, apparently, heterosexual. No one should expect that person to change their own sexual identity and preference for another person. Yes, that’s a problem if the other person is transition from male to female.

I dunno, maybe they can remain friends, but it seems to me that marrying a person who is a transitioning to a gender you’re not attracted to is a recipe for disaster down the line.

Paged our resident expert in trans issues.

I have a friend (male) whose wife of 15 years transitioned. They divorced. You can’t change who you are attracted to. They are still friendly for the sake of their kids.

Every relationship needs to be taken on its own merits, of course, but I can tell you that of the three relationships I’ve witnessed, none survived long after transition. (Two were seemingly hetero/cis relationships until transition and one was a lesbian relationship until Joe realized he wasn’t a lesbian.) These were all good, kind, openminded people who still love each other a lot, but fundamentally the non-transitioning partner realized that they didn’t want to be with someone the gender of their partner. All of them are still good friends with their ex, and two of the former couples are raising children together, but remaining in a sexual relationship was a nonstarter. They tried, all of them. They were intimate through transition, they just couldn’t keep it going.

I think it’s important to recognize that, while we’re not bashing the transgendered person for being who they really are, we also not bash the cisgendered person for being who they are. And if you’re a lesbian, a relationship with a man isn’t really your thing. If you’re a straight woman, a relationship with a woman isn’t really your thing. And that’s okay.

In two of the three cases, things went on probably a bit longer than they should have, because the non-transitioning partner was trying to be unconditionally loving and in relationship forever when their heart was saying, “this isn’t right for me.” But you don’t have to accept a person as a partner to accept them as a person.

By the way - what to say…most of all, listen. Don’t judge. Validate her feelings. Remind her that she controls whom she is attracted to, that if all that mattered was the person inside and not gender in a partner, gay men and women of 50 years ago would have found happiness with opposite gendered partners. That who she is is as important as who her fiancee is. That she is lonely and without a support network, but those things come in a new city with time.

Very likely she feels like love is supposed to conquer all and its the person inside that is supposed to matter. Both of those things are fairy tales.

Let me rephrase that - she doesn’t control who she’s attracted to. But she has a right to be attracted to the people she is attracted to - and not attracted to other people. We’ve gotten past (for the most part) that its ok to force someone to accept a heterosexual relationship if they aren’t hetero, but all forms of that are ok. You can’t force it.

I have no experience with this problem, so all I can say is this:

If my wife told me she wanted to be a man, I would walk away. No question. The entire question of homosexuality and transgendered lifestyle is contingent on the question of whether these people choose how they live. The problem is that it cuts the same both ways: A gay person cannot choose to be straight, so I (being straight) cannot choose to be gay. If the transgendered person identifies themselves as male, and expects the rest of the world to accept them as male, then they have created a homosexual relationship. I would expect OP’s friend to feel the same way. The transgendered person cannot identify as female but then still ask to be in a heterosexual relationship.

Now, this is my personal feeling here, but I would be furiously angry with this person. They made a commitment to her, and asked her to make a lifelong commitment to them, and now they want to change the terms of that relationship in an extremely fundamental way. This is incredibly dishonest and manipulative. I would, at a minimum, cut this person out of my life and never speak to them again, and if she has any shared assets I would immediately hire a lawyer.

And FWIW, I’m not speaking out of any particular rage against gay or transgendered people here. If I married Jill the elementary school teacher and then the next day she revealed that she is actually Jane the heavy metal guitarist, I would absolutely feel deceived and betrayed, if only for her lack of honesty.

Your friend needs to realize that being trans isn’t just something that a person passes through, and that contrary to some popular memes someone doesn’t just up and decide they’re going to get a sex change one day because they think it will be fun. And it’s not like cross dressing, where your man can cross dress on the weekends and special occasions but be a man otherwise. If her fiance is actually identifying as a woman and planning to move to live her life as a woman, it’s going to be 24/7 and she isn’t going to change her mind after a few weeks. Being trans is a fundamental part of a person’s identity, and the process requires so much effort and danger

If she isn’t sure she wants to be married to a woman, she needs to put the marriage plans on hold until she’s sure, because that’s what she’s signing on for. The whole ‘love conquers all’ meme is really destructive and leads to a lot of unhappiness. I would worry that she thinks this is temporary or just something to tolerate, but it’s not.

Well… you’re kind of dealing with a different bird. I would guess most women would rationally see this as a nuclear powered marriage deal killer and move on very quickly. The fact that she is talking about her current fiancé transitioning means that she is still trying to fit this into her plans for a life together. This is likely to come to grief. Sally may be a kind and loving person but she does not sound altogether rational.

I don’t think it’s irrational, so much as conditioning (that many women have grown up with) to be the one who finds a way to make things work. And it may just not have caught up with her yet that if he’s serious about transitioning, then there ain’t no way for it to work for her.

I think the best advice for her is Dangerosa’s:

What a heartbreaking situation! You’re being very kind to Sally.

I’ve known, in a general-acquaintance kind of way, two couples who tried to stick together when one partner transitioned (one was m-f, other was f-m). Neither relationship lasted.
As others have noted, the change is far more than a radical mastectomy or genitalia switch.

The only time I’ve known a couple stay together after a transition was when both of them were transitioning. I idly wonder how rare or common that is among transpersons.

In any case, I hope it all works out for Sally, whatever the right choice for her is.

Well, those of us who have posted or read fairly frequently transgender threads on this board actually DO know of a relationship between two people that survived transition: Una and Fierra. But it’s my understanding that Fierra knew Una was trans prior to co-habitation and marriage and, presumably, Fierra is not slammed to either end of the Kinsey scale. So it’s possible. But probably pretty damn rare.

And I’ll shut up now, because anything more about that relationship should properly come from one of those two.

And sometimes you cannot really know that you need to transition until a certain point in your life is reached. You make it sound as if a transgender person plots and schemes to time when they announce that they need to transition. You have no idea of the actual reality of finally realizing you must - and finally deciding that you must.

Fierra knew I was transgender before our first meeting face to face, and that was before we were even romantically involved. Fierra has described herself as lesbian, except that she is not really concerned about the body parts involved. A recent quote she gave to the media was “I just love her. I didn’t care what she looked like, I knew she was my girl. Her personality was female from the first time I met her. But I’m glad she transitioned because it made her whole and saved her life.”

More than that she would need to say.

Do they live in Thailand? Because that’s the only context I could see “ladyboys” being used. And it would give me a better feel towards cultural issues.

The first thing which gets me is the comment about services for partners. Fierra runs the KC Metro Area SOFFA group, which is a support group for Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies of transgender people. The goal of the group is to allow a non-judgmental meeting space where people can be frank and open about their fears and concerns. No transgender people are allowed at SOFFA meetings so the folks can express themselves without worrying about offense. You can also try PFLAG, but they are sometimes not focused on transgender issues. If you want to PM me your location, I can ask Fierra to see what resources may be in that area.

It’s a really, really tough road, to find out someone you love is transgender and to have had no warning. Fierra has worked with scores of folks who have been that situation, and while some of the time the relationship can work out, the majority of the time there is a separation.

The vast majority of the time the real, root cause of the separation is not due to issues with sexuality, nor “honesty,” nor the concern over the medical issues - it is simply fear of being ostracized by family over being the partner of a transgender person. Time and time again I hear words to the effect of “I love them, I would give my life for them, we have a great life together - but my sister is upset and my mom won’t talk to me, so I have to dump them.”

It might be interesting what her root cause reason is, because that can tell you if there’s any hope. If she’s just simply not into other women, then there isn’t any hope. If she is afraid of her family and friends, or fearful the trials of having a transgender partner, there isn’t any hope. All questions of sexual preference aside, it takes an uncommonly strong and confident person to stick with a transgender partner and support and love them.

I’ve read statistics from several sources that say in cases where a partner comes out as transgender by surprise, divorce or separation is the outcome 90% of the time. Among our community here, the rate is much closer to 75%. That could be because our city/metro area is incredibly supportive overall of the transgender community, and there are many resources and a large population. Whatever the case, as good as it is here only 1 in 4 relationships seem to survive.

As to why they chose to come out at this time, there are a few possible reasons. Sometimes a transgender person will come out to someone who they truly love, feeling that maybe this person will finally be able to accept them. Or maybe they are just high from the relationship and it comes out. Or the relationship put them in a special, good place where they felt like everything might finally work. While I’m certain it’s happened, in all my experience working with thousands of transgender persons and their SOFFA’s, I’ve never personally heard once of a person who chose to come out simply to be inconvenient, or because they had “tricked” or “snagged” someone.