A couple of years ago a colleague and good friend asked if I was okay. She said you’ve lost your sparkle. I assured her I was fine, just tired from work and whatever. I couldn’t tell her then what was really on mind. I was carrying a very heavy secret that wasn’t mine to share, at least not yet. My husband of 27 years had come out to me as transgender. I had no idea what that meant, but we promised each other we would figure it out, together. There was no way this would split us up. We had been through so much, fought so hard for our marriage over the course of a 20 year Air Force career, and at the end of the day we truly, deeply loved each other. I couldn’t imagine leaving Carli, even though 27 years earlier I had married Richard, strikingly handsome in his uniform, with no inkling of what was to come. We would figure it out, together! There was simply no other option. So, we started the process towards the goal of being out together.
I titled this little venture Being Out Together in part because we have learned that no one really comes out alone. Carli’s coming out was just as much mine as hers. Not only her family, but also my family had to come out in their own way. Employers needed to know, friends, neighbors, so many people! There is always someone, whether that someone is supportive or not, living with them or not, married or not; whatever the relationship the transgender person never comes out totally alone. Even if that someone is just the person who takes the picture for a new driver’s license or rings up groceries at Kroger and has the decency to correctly gender someone, no one is really 100% alone when coming out.
Sadly my wife and I have heard so many accounts of transgender people losing their entire family, friends deserting them when they need friends the most, losing employment or not being able to gain employment at all, and the stories go on and on. Violence, hatred, bigotry, it’s all there, every single day. It’s been hard for us to understand how the important people in their lives can just up and leave, often completely denying the transgender person is even breathing anymore. But we know this is a BIG DEAL, and everyone absorbs this revelation in their own way, processing it and spitting out a reaction that is unique to them and in line with their world view, beliefs, and experiences.
It has been absolutely soul crushing to hear the terrible stories. We feel incredibly privileged, and quite often guilty that Carli has had a relatively easy transition. It’s not been perfect, we’ve also suffered some loss, but nothing even close to what we’ve heard others go through. And we always carry hope in our hearts that we may be able to reach the hearts of those who have yet to fully accept Carli for the incredibly brave, beautiful, authentic woman she is.
For my part, I can honestly say I have never been happier in my marriage than I am right now! And this is why I thought, just maybe, if I started sharing some of the positive changes we have experienced and gather positive stories from other couples and families who have successfully figured out how to be Out Together we might be able to help other couples stay together. I promise, it can be done and it is being done!
In future posts I’ll talk more about how we got to this point. Lots of hilarious, terrifying, heartbreaking, beautiful, sad, lovely experiences! Shopping for size 11 shoes, trying to teach her how to use mascara, walking in our first Pride parade, attending memorial services for the Pulse Nightclub shooting victims. My sparkle is back because Carli and I have figured out how to be Out Together.
See you soon, friends.