3 min

Loving a trans man isn’t easy

A femme's perspective on losing her butch

Credit: Sarah Race

When I married the perfect butch, I didn’t know that only four short months after our wedding I’d be married to a trans man.

My perfect “masculine woman” couldn’t take the inner turmoil anymore and began to transition.

Transitioning may be more common these days, but my reaction was anything but. I was a catatonic, newlywed wife, crying in a La-Z-Boy for six weeks straight.

I cried tears of grief. I felt as if my love was leaving me, and in exchange there would be a potbellied, hairy-bodied, balding, middle-aged man.

If I wanted this, I would’ve stayed in the closet.

For several months Papi was going through the changes so fast, it seemed like the train had left the station and I could only helplessly watch mi esposo disappear.

I was afraid, especially of the unknown: who would I be married to now?

I agonized that I would lose the seductive pull I once felt for Papi. I was terrified that my love would fade because I’ve never been attracted to someone who has gone through with the procedures of transitioning.

And besides, I love butches, dammit! How unfair it seemed.

After all the years I spent feeling hopeless and suicidal in the closet, I was now going to be thrown back in, the door hitting me in the ass, the key tossed away. 

To the rest of the world, I’m just going to look like any other straight woman out there. As femmes, we’re hardly seen as queer unless we’re on the arms of our butches. Now where would I fit in? I fought too hard to be recognized as a femme! Do not strip me of my title, tiara and stilettos.

I was also distraught about my love’s growing clit, not to mention the man hair that seems to now be growing up Papi’s thigh like an out-of-control ivy in a race for time to surpass the groin.

Would the new clit be huge? Massive? A five-foot fucking clitoris?

Well, it wasn’t as bad as my rampant imagination made it out to be. Still, that longtime friend looks a hell of a lot different than the one mi esposo had in the beginning of our relationship. Plus I now get a fistful of hair when I stroke my love’s thigh.

Unfortunately, I spent enough time in the closet to know what man stink smells like. I thought those days were behind me, until my love started taking hormones.

When my love realized that the smell was making it difficult for me to have sex, it really created a wall between us. Mi esposo didn’t know what to do with me, and I didn’t know what to do with my morphing spouse.

Like most ill-informed people, the biggest myth I fell for was the “roid rage” phenomenon. I didn’t want our relationship to go belly-up because there may be a storming spouse around the house.

My love promised me that this truly is a myth, and now, nine months into the transition, I still get to have my silly spouse that I fell in love with more than three years ago.

We are all going to change over time, but the abruptness of going through top surgery was shocking. I really thought I’d be okay, until I had my bags packed to catch a plane, en route to help with the aftercare.

It was hard enough to see the overt sign of my butch being stolen from me, but to see Papi’s body in trauma was equally difficult.

Most sad and distressing was the fact that I couldn’t cuddle with Papi anymore. I needed to hear my love’s heartbeat, as I used to when I’d lay my head upon those soft pillows of paradise. But they were no longer there, and mi esposo was in so much pain it didn’t even allow for hugs.

Only the other day was I able to lie on my love’s chest and hear that familiar heartbeat again. It’s not the soft, cradling pillow I was used to, but at least I can listen to mi esposo’s heart.

I looked for support but found very little because partners don’t generally talk about the difficulties we face in transition. Nobody wants to be the one to say, “This fucking hurts,” lest we be judged by the politically fuelled who would label us transphobic.

The Rah-Rah Tranny people on the sidelines say we’re not supposed to grieve the loss of our soulmate to a new gender. We should a) keep it quiet and support the transgender person or b) leave the relationship or c) both.

But I screamed for support! I called a queer crisis line and they didn’t return my call for weeks on end, which I found really unacceptable.

Eventually, Papi and I found great support from people who don’t judge or label us, regardless of our feelings or choices. These friends also don’t flock to a forum to discuss how they feel Papi and I should live.

Yes, I am disliked for the honesty with which I’ve expressed my feelings toward the process and my part in it, but I will not be silenced.

Having insisted on expressing my grief, I am now slowly finding that I can love my spouse, no matter the changes.

Day by day, I find I’m falling in love all over again.