By: *Jess deCourcy Hinds
Jun 1, 2022
Jun 1, 2022
|The author (left) says she and
her wife are both happier now.
"Let's go shopping," my wife, Stefanie, said one Sunday afternoon. "I need a dress!" I barely recognized the blond woman smiling at me in the crowded outlet store.
After more than a decade of marriage, my husband, Stefan, came out as a trans woman and transitioned to become my wife, Stefanie. It has been almost a year now, and I'm no longer surprised by the changes in her physical appearance — she's gorgeous — but I'm still in shock about the personality changes.
My husband hated clothes shopping with our two daughters, ages 9 and 2. My wife had a blast.
We're both happy
Stefanie luxuriated in the swish of silky fabrics, the feathery tickle of cashmere, and the clinking of beads. I'd never seen her so happy as she reinvented herself, one burgundy tunic and one silver bracelet at a time. I was also surprised when she offered to push the toddler's stroller so I could shop unencumbered.
As Stefanie transitions into a body that fits her, I'm finding more joy in everyday life, too.
I'd never heard of the expression "gender euphoria" before my wife came out. The media loves to emphasize the negative sides of trans people's lives, but the flip side of gender dysphoria — the euphoria — deserves attention, too.
Stefanie's coming out has improved both her life and our family life. Our children barely blinked the first time they saw their father in a dress. But they've definitely noticed that Stefanie takes them to the zoo and trampoline park more.
I don't want to minimize the pain in Stefanie's 42 years of wrestling with gender. But that journey is her own story to tell. We need more stories written by trans people that capture all the colors of this experience, not just the darker shades.
We also need trans family stories.
Stefanie has emerged from dark clouds as a dazzlingly bright sun. I'm basking in her glow. Having my partner come out as trans was one of the best things to happen to me.
I knew my spouse was struggling prior to transitioning
Throughout our marriage, I knew my then-husband was struggling emotionally, but I never suspected it was a gender-identity question.
As a bisexual person myself, I value nontraditional gender expressions.
I appreciated my husband's sensitivity and long eyelashes, but I didn't think he showed the "typical" signs of being trans. There were no lacy stockings squirreled away in drawers, and he spoke of playing with toy trucks as a child.
But I didn't understand the wide range of trans experiences at that time.
For years, my husband had Googled transgender stories and medical transition without quite knowing why. He (she) repressed these desires out of fear of stigmatization and losing our marriage. The strain of secrecy burdened us both. Now we are both exhaling.
It's difficult for a cisgender person like me — someone whose internal sense of gender matches their external appearance — to fully comprehend a trans person's exhaustion from living in constant discord. Imagine an orchestra tuning their instruments in a frenzy of clashing notes.
After Stefanie accepted she was trans and began medical transition, the music inside her finally became melodious. As her wife, I hear this music, too. I can't help but dance with her, even in the middle of a discount clothing store.
*Jess deCourcy Hinds is a writer and librarian in Queens, New York.