Gender change & issues concering married couples

10 May

The issue of gender change as it applies to a married couple is one of the most complex aspects of the process for many transsexual people caught in this position. There are two sides to this coin and each has equally valid concerns that have to be respected, the person changing their physical sex and their partner. While a few people are fortunate enough to be with someone that supports them and can remain in the marriage, that is rarely case as will be examined later. The easiest way to address these issues surrounding gender change and marriage is to go step by step.

The first step is the coming out phase. In some admittedly rare cases the partner is aware in advance of marriage that they are wedding a person that is gender dysphoric. In those instances the odds of a marriage surviving the process of gender transition is excellent. There are no secrets or bombshells being dropped that create chaos. The reality is most partners are unaware of their partners gender dysphoria. At times this is because the dysphoria is being repressed, or in the truly sad cases it is known and the person does not disclose it because they have some personal reason for hiding it. In some cases it may be they are hoping marriage will fix their gender dysphoria, in others it may be they never felt like the right time materialized, or any host excuses.


For the individual coming out for the first time this is extremely stressful. Even the person that has a partner aware of it it is under heightened stress because they still have to face the world. Either way this is a very trying period. Each partner will be subjected to public and familial scrutiny. There are going to be legal and professional concerns, even more if children are involved. As difficult as this initial period is, it isn’t too bad in comparison to what lies ahead. In some cases, the simple proclamation of gender dysphoria is enough for some spouses to seek immediate divorce, in most instances however they will remain through this period if for no other reason than the belief this may be a phase.

As the transitional period begins which is when a person begins undergoing counseling as well as HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), some physical modification in many cases, and begins living in their new gender role full-time, is when things get particularly dicey. Now the pressure from outside sources is really turned up. For many spouses this is too much to bear. The changes in physical appearance are usually no piece

of cake either. Add with those factors that thanks to hormone therapy what often happens is the once docile wife becomes more aggressive and the once stereotypical male (hardened/unfeeling) becomes more emotional. In the case of a MTF (Male to Female) it is often likened to compressing puberty and menopause into a two or three year span when moods swings are more so the rule than the exception.


With all this the FTM (Female to Male) usually experiences an increased sex drive while the MTF experiences a decline. Sex is an integral part of a healthy marriage and this change in the dynamic is often difficult for their spouse to contend with. Aside from that there is the issue that the spouse often “feels gay” although in most cases they know this to not be true. There are certainly examples where a bisexual partner experienced no problem with these issues, whoever that is not the norm across the spectrum of all marriages.


Typically this is the make or break point in a marriage in which a gender dysphoric partner pursues a surgical reassignment. In many cases the transsexual partner has passed the “point of no return” to some degree as hormones and physical alterations have made physical changes. It is clear this is not a phase or bit of exploration, but a real event which is almost certainly going to happen. In a fair portion of cases the couple separates, at least temporarily. Attempts at reconciliation are not that uncommon. The desire for separation seems to come equally from both sides. In some cases the partner switching genders finds that the relationship is not what they want, or vise versa. The reasons for this are numerous and vary by individual as each person is unique. Most often, especially when children are involved, a relationship is maintained although in earlier years this was a rarity.


In the case of these marriages where a partner does attain a surgical reassignment the number of marriages that survive is exceedingly low. While no accurate statistics are kept due to no real initiative to track this, the general belief is less than 15% of marriages survive in tact in which the couple continues as they were prior to GRS. In most cases it is believed one or both partners are usually bisexual which makes the transition far easier. In most cases divorce is the final result and friendship is the most that can be hoped for.


What is important to remember is that a transseuxual person does not do this with the intent of hurting their spouse. A transsexual person denied the ability to be who they are is often a miserable person emotionally as suicide statistics for this community bear out. They are honestly doing what they feel is best for them and their spouse. They hope that by being who they are they will be happier. In turn it is their desire their partner be happy as well, if possible in some cases by remaining a couple, if not then by moving on to someone else.


So far as the spouse of a person changing gender, they need not feel as though they have done anything wrong or harbor any guilt. The best thing they can do is support their spouse and hope for the best for each of them. It is unfortunate this happens, but with societal and medical attitudes changing this is becoming less of a problem with each passing generation. The bottom line is the love you shared does not end because a persons gender has changed, that will always remain even if the marriage does not.

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