Over the past few months there have been many forum posts, comments and chat conversations around this topic and whilst I don’t believe there is a “one size fits all” solution, it is perhaps worthwhile to look at some of the issues involved. I do not profess to be an expert and my situation is different from many who may read this article. I am blessed with a totally supportive and encouraging spouse. I am a part time crossdresser who has no intention of transitioning. I came to crossdressing late (in my 50s) and never had to “come out” to my spouse as she was fully involved from day one.
This article is written from the perspective of a MTF crossdresser with a genetic female SO, although I suspect many of the issues are the same for transgender people and their significant others. The feelings of anxiety and fear of reaction / rejection by the significant other on the part of the crossdresser are reasonably well known and have been expressed here on numerous occasions. So initially I want to look at this situation from the other perspective, from that of the allegedly aggrieved party. This analysis may not be complete and every situation is unique, however, when planning to “come out” to a partner, these matters should, as a minimum, be considered and relevant, honest responses prepared.
From the wife’s (girlfriend, spouse, partner etc.) point of view, one of the first emotions to surface when confronted with this information is SHOCK… (WTF? Am I really hearing this? This can’t be true. It must be a bad dream.) This reaction can be mitigated somewhat by picking an appropriate time & place for the revelation, but make no mistake, the news is SHOCKING to the recipient. The challenge at this point is to keep both parties calm and focussed enough so that they actually hear what comes next. Many don’t and the plan, whatever that may be, for the next phase is largely irrelevant in such cases.
SHOCK is often quickly followed by a feeling of BETRAYAL… (How long has this been going on? Why am I only hearing this now? What other secrets are you keeping from me? If you really loved me, you would have confided in me a long time ago.) This last statement is particularly powerful and not at all uncommon and yet the crossdresser feels somewhat vindicated for keeping it hidden by the current reaction (I knew you would react like this, that’s why I didn’t tell you).
SHOCK & BETRAYAL combine and are often expressed as ANGER. As the volume coming from the mouth increases so the listening capacity at the ears decreases, on both sides. If the couple can get beyond the SHOCK, BETRAYAL and ANGER, then the opportunity for dialogue exists and there is a chance that the spouse will gain some understanding of what drives their partner to behave in such a way that is so contrary to all their previous knowledge.
During the conversations that follow a plethora of emotions will be encountered and endless questions arise, all of which must be addressed. Chief amongst these is BEWILDERMENT (Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this now? Why are you doing this to me? How do you think this could ever work? Are you crazy? Are you suffering a psychiatric disorder? Is there a cure?) There will be many more questions, some seemingly not particularly relevant, but all need to be answered, frankly and in earnest if the partner is to come to acceptance. Remember, most crossdressers have been preparing for this moment, one way or another for years if not decades. They have no doubt played various scenarios out mentally a multitude of times. The spouse, on the other hand, in many cases has had no warning that this was coming and therefore no time to prepare. They are often simply overwhelmed.
Coupled with BEWILDERMENT will be FEAR. (Are you going to become a woman? Where is my Man? What is the future? Do you expect me to become a lesbian?). Often questions will be repeated seemingly endlessly as the SO attempts to reconcile what she is hearing and the crossdresser may well become frustrated at having to repeat themselves. Nevertheless, it is important to continue the dialogue in a calm and sensitive manner. Even if all these issues can be addressed there is no guarantee that the significant other will become supportive or even accepting, but the crossdresser will at least have the opportunity to put their case and be heard. If, on the other hand, she gains some understanding and is prepared to be accepting, she may well come to appreciate some of the real benefits of having a crossdresser as a partner. This will be looked at in detail in another article: Benefits of having a cross-dressing partner
It often happens that both parties report that they feel closer as a couple after the crossdresser come out and they work through the issues. With care, honesty, and an understanding that this is traumatic for the partner, hopefully a successful conclusion can be reached.