Friday, May 27, 2016

Going home

Tonight, I return home from a business trip to New York.  Once I got a handle on the trip, it actually went pretty well.  A physicist, I gave a talk at an academic conference, and did some interesting work at Brookhaven National Lab.  I love learning new things, and this trip allowed me to learn something about micro-fabrication, and meet new collaborators.  Sometimes, it's just refreshing to get away.

So, I'm actually very nervous to return home.  I have a large family that I love dearly, but with that comes a lot of expectations.  I've been married for18 years.  Within the Mormon Church, marriage is viewed as being binding beyond death.  It's a special privilege, but one you have to live worthy of.  The marriage promise is is a covenant made between spouses, but also includes promises one makes with God.  It's a sacred act, that involves love and devotion, but also a lot of responsibility.  It's not to be taken lightly.

When I married, I sincerely loved my wife. While I had struggled with gender my entire life, those feelings were not at the forefront of my mind at the time.  I wanted to be happy; I wanted to be loved.  I wanted to do the right thing.  I thought if I had all that, my feelings of wanting to be female would diminish.

However, that's never really been the case.  Ironically, the feelings of wanting have always been especially present during intimate moments with my wife.  When I should have felt most like a man, the only thing I could think about was longing to be female.  My therapist once explained to me that part of a heterosexual relationship is enjoying one's gender in the presence of the partner. She explained that she really enjoyed being female when she was around her husband.  As a transgender person, I enjoy my wife, but believe I bring a different set of perceptions and needs to the relationship.

When I began to accept that I was transgender, one of the first things I needed to do was come out to my wife.  It took a few weeks, but I managed to do so with the help of my therapist.  I believe that was one of the hardest days we have had to face as a couple.  I think my wife and I have had markedly different reactions to the situation.  For me, it has been the beginning of my self acceptance and understanding.  I do have a much easier time if I think of myself as a woman.  So much of what has confused and pained me about myself makes sense.

My wife struggles with things, and that makes life harder for me.  Based on religious teachings, she says that "God doesn't make mistakes" and refuses to see me as anything but male.  She doesn't want me to go as a female around our kids.  "These kids need their dad, and they need you to look the part."  My wife states that we agreed to certain religious principles when we began to raise our kids, and she intends to keep things that way, even if it distances me from the kids.

So, home has become complicated.  My greatest desire is to transition to life as a female, but I also feel the obligation to keep our family together.  I worry about honoring my marriage to my wife, and maintaining a relationship with my kids.  However, I don't know if I can keep the status quo for too much longer.  It's taking at toll on me and I am really struggling.

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