Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Wants a Sex Change!”

I’ve been with my fiancé for three years. We’re both at least 21. I care about him more then anything, but he recently informed me that he was really considering getting a sex change and becoming a woman. I only want him to be happy, so I would never keep him from this decision. I also recently lost my virginity to him, so needless to say this is a lot to take in. I don’t know what to do. I’ve thought about it and I know that I am not attracted to females. I love him how he is now and feel selfish for not wanting him to change. I wanted to some day start a family with him, but I also don’t want him living in agony or feeling like his life is a lie.

He said he’d still love me even after he changed genders, but as much as I would love and accept him as a friend and support him through the whole journey, I just don’t think I could make it work with a female on that level. I don’t want to lose my fiancé, and I’m afraid to tell him that it wouldn’t work with us on a romantic level after he changed because I know it’d break his heart. Should I even try to be with him in that way after? I love him a lot. What do I do? — Engaged in a Gender Bender

First of all, it’s totally normal for you to feel a host of emotions right now: fear, sadness, regret, anger, confusion, and guilt, probably chief among them. Feeling all those things doesn’t mean you love and care for your fiancé any less; it simply means you’re human. This is huge, huge news to take in, and while your fiancé has likely had a lot of time to think about it, you’re only just now beginning to process that information that the man you fell in love with and thought you’d have a family with one day feels like a woman on the inside. If you need time and space to yourself to sort through some of your emotions, take it. Explain to your fiancé that you love him and you hope to remain in his life through and after his sex change, whether that results in surgery or not, but that you need some time to think about what your new roles in each other’s lives will be. Let him know this isn’t a judgment of him or his decision but that it’s a lot for you to take in and you need some space to let it settle.

You also need to keep in mind that your fiancé’s decision has nothing to do with you as a woman or your relationship with him. He has likely been feeling confused about his sex and gender for a very, very long time. Coming out to you about that confusion only shows how brave he is and how very much he must trust and love you. Your reaction to him — one of love and acceptance — proves that that trust and love is well-deserved. Whether you continue as romantic partners or not, I hope that the obvious bond you share can continue through whatever physical and emotional changes that may take place between you over the coming years.

Now, about remaining romantic partners… This is a decision you’ll have to make together. You know you aren’t attracted to or romantically interested in women. Can you make an exception for your fiancé if he begins living as a woman? I don’t know. Maybe you can. Maybe it’s worth exploring. He’ll be the same person, after all — the person you fell in love with. But it’s also important to give yourself permission to bail and not feel guilty. You’re not lesbian. You never signed up for a relationship with a woman and all that entails. And what about your fiancé? What is his sexual preference? If he feels like a woman on the inside, does that mean he identifies with being a lesbian? Or, is he more attracted to men? Maybe he isn’t sure yet. Maybe he needs time to explore and experiment — something to consider as you think about continuing a relationship with him.

Finally, as much for your own sake as for your fiancé’s, you need to be honest with him about how you’re feeling. He must have known on some level that the information he had to share with you would break your heart, so you can’t be afraid to do the same to him. This isn’t about an eye for an eye; this is about being true to yourself. If he’s being true to himself despite the pain it causes you, you need to be true to yourself despite whatever pain it may cause him. Truth is the only way to live your life. If you know in your heart — or, at least feel pretty certain — that a romantic relationship with him is now out of the question, you have to let him know that (as kindly and compassionately as possible). Part of the process for him in considering a sex change is dealing with his loved one’s reactions and the ways his change will affect relationships with them. You can’t protect him from that reality. It’s not your job to. But you can certainly be a loving support through the process and as much of a friend as you’re able to be. Just don’t forget to seek support for yourself, too. You’re dealing with a lot and need to reach out to a select group of trusted confidantes for backup (just be prepared for some initial shock, confusion, and even judgment. Not everyone is as open-minded as you seem to be. Select the people you share with this information very carefully. Talk to your fiancé about who he’s OK with your reaching out to.).

With the right attitude and the right kind of emotional support, you’re going to get through this. And so will your fiancé. He may end up with a new name; you may have find new titles and roles for each other. But with enough love, trust and understanding, you can remain important people in one another’s lives for a long, long time.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

122 comments… add one
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 26, 2011, 8:03 am

    Just remember that you don’t have to stay with someone just because you love them. You need a relationship that works for both of you just as your bf needs a gender that works for him. This isn’t a decision you have to make immediately so you can take your time and if at any point you realize it won’t work for you then move on. Your love is real and your doubts are legitimate. This truly might not work for you and that’s okay. Try to be honest with both yourself and your boyfriend each step of the way.

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      HmC September 26, 2011, 12:35 pm

      “Just remember that you don’t have to stay with someone just because you love them.”

      So true. I feel like one of the most important lessons about love that you learn through maturity and experience, is that love is not enough to maintain a relationship. It’s a good start, of course, but you need to be compatible in so many practical ways on top of being in love in order to make a long term romantic relationship work. Physical attraction is one such key component to a romantic relationship, and that doesn’t make you superficial or selfish.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 26, 2011, 2:42 pm

        I think most of us fall in love at least once with someone with whom we could never be happy sharing a life. Then we learn to be pickier!

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      • avatar

        IronicStar July 4, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Been there. It broke my own heart to break his, but we’re both better in the long run. We remained friends (with luck) and are now able to be happy for each other.

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didn't September 26, 2011, 8:24 am

    Hmmm…..I hope I’m not the only one that feels the boyfriend needs to be taken to task a little bit. Yes, this is scary and traumatic for him and it probably feels good to get this off his chest. But really? He HAD to have been having doubts for a while and I think it’s pretty reprehensible that he dragged someone into this indecision with him, while promising her a future together.

    While it would be nice for the LW to support her fiance through this decision making process, I don’t think she should be obligated to do that. She may decide that there is no chance of a continuing romantic relationship (fair) or that she is too hurt or feels too deceived to continue supporting him in even a friendship role. It’s up to the LW to decide, obviously, but I hope she doesn’t force herself into supporting him just because she feels she should. She’s got to take care of herself, too.

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      PondLily September 26, 2011, 8:36 am

      I think a lot of people that are that young try very hard to pretend that what they are feeling is a passing phase, or something that they can deny themselves to be able to “fit in” with society. No, it’s not fair to the people they are with, but in most cases I don’t think they are doing it to be malicious, but rather that they truly wish that they could pretend their other urges don’t exist.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didn't September 26, 2011, 9:39 am

        I agree with you that he didn’t intend to be malicious, but I stick by my original opinion that he unintentionally used the LW to discover his true gender and orientation. And that is seriously uncool, especially when it gets so far that there is a marriage proposal involved.

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      • avatar

        PondLily September 26, 2011, 9:47 am

        But when we’re in our teens and early 20s aren’t we all using people to explore our sexuality and figure out what we want in a partner? That’s why people “experiment” to see if it’s something they’re really into, or just something they’re curious about. I agree that he never should have proposed, but I feel the same way toward any 20 year old that thinks he’s ready to be married. Most people have no idea who they are or who they want to be at that point.

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        Pig September 28, 2011, 10:41 am

        I didn’t. Didn’t lose my virginity until I was 23 and with someone who knew what she wanted, and I knew what I wanted. Not all of us are douchebags about the whole thing.

        Mind you, the relationship didn’t work out despite us loving each other, but we did part amicably.

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    • Budj

      Budjer September 26, 2011, 8:42 am

      I agree with this. You don’t just up and decide you want to turn your penis into a clitoris…there is no going back from that (unless we can grow penis appendages on mice now?)…so I think it is pretty crappy to get engaged to this woman and take her virginity before he brought this up…he obviously knew that would make the decision harder for her.

      LW if that is a life style you don’t want to lead then there is no shame in cancelling your engagement. Canceling isn’t an act of judgement on him…express that you will be there as a friend if he wants to let you be there for him.

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        PondLily September 26, 2011, 8:47 am

        OMG…I just cracked up thinking of that little mouse on top of the fence singing Somewhere Out There to the moon…

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        GatorGirl September 26, 2011, 8:57 am

        I sort of disagree with you- the LW’s fiancé may have been struggling with decisions for years, or his life time and only just come to grips with it. Maybe it took getting engaged, beginning to plan a life together and having sex to really close the deal that he identifies as being female.

        This is undoubtly a very crappy situation- but it’s not time to say what the fiancé did wrong.

        LW please get some counseling. You’re fiancé should have some serious, intense counseling because this surgery is irreversible. Maybe try couples counseling to see if you can stay together. If you can’t stay together romantically, hopefully you can have a supportive friendship.

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      • avatar

        EB September 26, 2011, 9:43 am

        Genital re-assignment surgery is just one part of the transition process. Usually in the US, a person will first begin counseling, hormone therapy and needs to spend at least a year living as their new gender before most Doctors will even consider performing the the surgery.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl September 26, 2011, 10:54 am

        “Usually in the US” and “most doctors” – who’s to say the couple is from the US or will go to a responsible doctor?

        I fully support the fiance’s decision and right to transition, but everyone in this situation will need support for their mental health; the LW, the fiance, both of their families. This is going to be a difficult and confusing time for everyone involved.

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      • katie

        katie September 26, 2011, 8:23 pm

        no, i think that the process is pretty across the board.

        it takes many many years to complete it… i have a friend right now who is stuck in process, because she told her therapist that she hopes to one day have biological children, so she now has to freeze some sperm before they will even take more steps in the process.

        i guess there are always shady doctors who will just chop off whatever you tell them to, but if this LW’s fiance is going to do this the right (and safe) way, it will take a long time.

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      • Budj

        Budjer September 26, 2011, 9:27 am

        I think it helps to alleviate the LW’s guilt over things…she is obviously torn…she deserves to know this wasn’t how it should have been brought up – regardless of motivations.

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 9:32 am

        Excellent point. And while its fine for some of you to say its not his fault, well, it is. He knew all along he was at least struggling with his sexuality and therefore should never have put this girl in such a terrible position. On that alone, I say MOA. Its incredibly selfish, no matter how much I feel for the guy having to deal with this.

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        Shadowflash1522 September 26, 2011, 9:45 am

        Agreed, at least in the sense that one does not wake up one morning and say, “Today I shall question my gender identity. Let’s get reassignment surgery!”

        There *is* a struggle involved. The fact that he didn’t share the struggle with the LW is what left her totally blindsided and confused, and sends up flags for me. Not red ones, but yellow ones.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow September 26, 2011, 10:51 am

        He’s sharing it with her now. Better now than after they’re married. I mean… it sounds like it still is an internal struggle for him, and it’s not a done deal yet. And he’s probably been denying it, unable to face it himself. It’s a transition, it’s a process (a looooong process), and he wants to explore his gender identity WITH the LW. They BOTH need time to adjust.

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      • avatar

        EB September 26, 2011, 9:46 am

        Just to clarify, sexuality/sexual orientation and gender orientation are completely different things.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 9:55 am

        You’re right, I was just spitting the words out to be honest. My point is the same, regardless of correct terminology though.

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      soandso September 26, 2011, 10:46 am

      what makes everyone assume the LW is a woman?

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 10:54 am

        Hmm, hope we can hear from the LW to find out. Good point. I think the advice applies either way though.

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      • avatar

        amber September 26, 2011, 10:57 am

        i think the clue is in wendy’s response she says: “You’re not lesbian”. If this was a male lw writing in about his partner wanting to become a woman Wendy probably would have chosen different wording for this portion of her response.

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      • avatar

        amber September 26, 2011, 10:58 am

        technically he would be writing in about his fiance, hit reply too quick.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy September 26, 2011, 11:04 am

        I think people are assuming the LW is a woman because of gender pronouns I used in my reply. And I used specific gender pronouns from context clues (specifically, in the situation, I’m pretty sure the LW would have specified that he was a gay male if that were the case), as well as the real name of the LW, which I was privy to and you readers aren’t.

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    • avatar

      Brewster September 28, 2011, 10:51 pm

      Via my previous career I’ve had experience with more than a few transgender women. I’ll say this in your finacee’s favor – give him a lot of credit for telling you of his feelings BEFORE you were married! This is a huge step for both of you and knowing up front gives you both a chance to deal with your feelings way ahead of time. He deserves your thanks at least for that – imagine if after being married he sprung this on you?

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  • avatar

    PondLily September 26, 2011, 8:28 am

    You are both very young and still trying to figure out who you are as individuals, let alone who you are together. Your fiance needs time to do that, so the first thing I would tell you is to postpone the marriage if you haven’t already done that. Regardless of how much love you have for each other, marriage is a step that should occur when you both know who you are, what you want, and have faith that you will get it together. At this point you are not there.

    If your fiance does decide to go through with this change, please understand that it is totally ok for you to choose not to stick around. In an ideal world it would be wonderful for you to be there to support him and love him unconditionally, but that may be more than you can handle. You will also need people around you to support you as you go through this change of being someone’s fiance to being single again. Take time for yourself…you are not, nor should you be, your fiance’s sole support system. If you decide down the road that you want to be a part of his life, that’s fine. He may or may not be open to that. But you both need to come to terms with this separately before you can decide what sort of roles you would like to have in each other’s life.

    This is a tough situation because ostensibly nothing has changed in terms of your love for each other, but realize that the situation has forever changed since his revelation. Please do not pretend that nothing happened, because obviously this is something he has been thinking about for a long time. In many people’s minds it is a dealbreaker just like someone not wanting kids when you do. If it is not what you want for your life, it is ok to choose to walk away, regardless of your past history together, your current love, or your future plans. Be grateful for the time you spent together, and realize the huge gift he gave you with his honesty, rather than jumping into a marriage with you that would never have been truly what either of you wanted.

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  • rainbow

    rainbow September 26, 2011, 8:31 am

    LW, thanks for being so accepting and amazing about this. Your fiancé is a very lucky person to have you around.
    About you not being sure of being able to make it work with a woman: I think this whole situation is probably giving your SO a very deep understanding of how you can’t force yourself to be/want something you are/do not, even if it breaks people’s hearts. I don’t think many explanations will be needed if after this journey you find out you can’t just become gay on purpose as a way of supporting someone you love.
    This must be heartbreaking, but you’re being awesome about it anyway. You, LW, are a real lady.

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  • avatar

    wendyblueeyes September 26, 2011, 8:34 am

    I’ll put it right out there, without pussyfooting around. The man you got engaged to, got you to say “yes” under false pretenses. He is not the man you thought he was. Deep six the engagement. You can remain wonderful platonic friends, but not romantic partners. You cannot “turn lesbian” just because your fiance asks you to. Friends yes; lovers no.

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    • avatar

      El September 26, 2011, 8:46 am

      I agree. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide that you want a sex change. Why did he propose without divulging this extremely huge detail of his life?

      Dump him, LW. Nobody says you can’t be friends, but I wouldn’t continue a relationship with this guy.

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      mf September 26, 2011, 10:23 am

      Yeah, I agree. He’s pulling a 180 on her AFTER they got engaged. This is the kind of huge issue that absolutely needs to be discussed before marriage comes into the picture. I’m sure he didn’t intend to lead her on, but regardless, it’s still a sure sign she doesn’t really know and understand this guy.

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        honeybeenicki September 26, 2011, 10:45 am

        Its not completely uncommon. Many people do not fully accept and vocalize the realization that they need gender reassignment until much later in life (I can’t remember exactly, but I think the average is about 40-50) and many of them are married, have kids, grandkids, etc. While he may have been antagonizing over it in his mind, he probably wasn’t ready to completely accept the fact that he is transgendered. He was trying to maintain some sense of normalcy or control in his life. Yeah it sucks that LW is getting hurt in the process, but its not like this was easy for him and the hard part is just starting.

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        honeybeenicki September 26, 2011, 10:47 am

        I would like to add that I am absolutely not excusing the LW’s fiance especially for asking her to change her sexual orientation (which absolutely is not possible). For someone who obviously knows what it is like to be something you are not, he should know better than that.

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        Christy September 26, 2011, 11:46 am

        He’s not asking the LW to change her sexual orientation. I think he was just saying that he still loved her. I bet he knows it’s a hard thing for her to deal with.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 10:50 am

        While I sympathize with anyone who struggles with something this difficult, it is uncommon. Very uncommon.

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        honeybeenicki September 26, 2011, 11:23 am

        Oops I should have been more clear. I didn’t mean that being transgendered wasn’t uncommon (because you’re right… it is quite uncommon and a small percentage of the population). I meant that a transgendered person attempting to be in “normal” relationships isn’t uncommon for that specific community. I was responding to the comment about him “pulling a 180 after they got engaged,” not about being transgendered in general.

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 11:25 am

        Hey, thanks for clarifying. I bet you’re correct, which really is terrible though for the other person and imo very selfish, but I would venture to guess that denial or trying to be “normal” happens in almost every instance before accepting or admitting the truth.

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        honeybeenicki September 26, 2011, 11:34 am

        See that’s what happens when I try to think when I’m still mostly asleep. I agree that trying to grasp at normalcy happens in pretty much any situation that someone needs to accept the truth. That is probably why a lot of people who are gay first experimented with trying to be heterosexual.

        I have a good friend who was born a female but has now completed a full reassignment to male. He went through a lot and I was right there with him and the rest of his support system, so I sympathize with both the LW and her fiance. It was a very long process. His final surgery was about 4 years ago and he is still in counseling just learning how to continue to adapt.

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      McLovin September 26, 2011, 9:25 am

      definitely needed to be said.

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      McLovin September 26, 2011, 2:27 pm

      additionally, I love the fact that you found a way to work in the phrase “pussyfooting around” into a sentence…that doesn’t happen nearly enough! I promise to do my best to also bust out that bad-ass phrase sometime today. Probably with the guy in the office that starts literally every conversation with “hey, I’m sorry to bother you because I know how busy you are.” My response will be “well you’re damn right I’m busy(probably on my way to the bathroom) so stop ‘pussyfooting around’ and tell me what’s on your mind.”

      p.s. I’m really not a mean person. But this guy can’t start a conversation without first apologizing for interrupting, so I think it’s only fair that I finally help him to help himself. Dude, we’re at work. It’s ok to talk about work stuff at work without apologizing first!

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  • avatar

    dr bro September 26, 2011, 8:47 am

    So your fiance decides that he’d rather be a woman and wants to get the most physically and psychologically invasive surgery ever invented to dramatically alter his natural anatomy and become a person wholly different than the one you got engaged to, and you’re worried about sounding selfish? Perhaps saying to your significant other “I don’t think this will work out, I’m really only attracted to a particular biological sex and can’t really stomach a relationship with someone from the sex opposite the one I’m attracted to,” is bigoted and heteronormative? Please, just because the guy “subscribes to an alternative lifestyle” or “was always a woman deep down” or whatever the politically correct reasoning is does not give your partner the right to make tremendous life-altering decision and then ASK YOU TO CHANGE YOUR SEXUAL PREFERENCE. In fact, isn’t thinking homosexuality is a choice bigoted?

    In any case guy’s a tool and just because he’s a member of an oft-maligned minority doesn’t make any of this okay.

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      lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 9:51 am

      Times like this, I wish could “like” 1000 times.

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        Calliopedork September 26, 2011, 3:55 pm

        Agree completely one will have to do.

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    SGMcG September 26, 2011, 9:15 am

    Wendy, your advice is spot on except for one thing – the gender of the LW is not identified. I know the advice was written with a woman in mind, but for all we know the LW could also have been a man who is comfortable with his homosexual preference. What Wendy has said regarding the LW’s emotions is perfect regarding this decision: you need to be honest with him about how you’re feeling regarding this situation. Personally, I’m pretty surprised that all of this was presented to you so immediately without any clue/indication of him wishing to change his gender identity, i.e. cross dressing and/or sexual role play.

    Reading your letter LW, reminded me of the HBO film “Normal” with Jessica Lange. In the film, the wife struggles with the fact that her husband of 25 years underwent sex reassignment surgery. Although the romantic ideal of the romance continuing is lovingly portrayed, the reality is that this type of surgery is permanent and most couples do not last once it is done.

    I was wondering if your fiancé has truly considered what this process would mean for him overall. If he did this properly (as opposed to going overseas to get it done), he would need to go through a psych evaluation. He would also need to go through massive hormone therapy before undergoing surgery – and he would have to pay for this out of pocket since most health care providers don’t begin to cover this. All this investment in time and money, along with an upcoming wedding, is a lot to take in, emotionally and financially. Although you are understandably confused and hurt by his decision, the fact that your fiancé has presented this to you before another major life change is done should really make you think about the person you want as your life partner.

    Ultimately, the decision rest with you as to what you want to do in this scenario. However, please be aware that the man you knew as your fiancé, especially if he goes through the gender reassignment surgery, is no longer around. If want you want with your life and your partner isn’t currently being fulfilled by him, he should understand it if you don’t want to continue your relationship anymore – it is part of the reality of what will happen if the gender reassignment is what he truly wants. Ask him questions not only about how he feels about the task, but also if he did any research he’s done on the surgery. If he is really committed to this, he probably already has an idea of what he’ll undergo, and ideas for his new female persona. Feel free to ask for time-outs of the task if it gets too much for you and if it gets overwhelming, don’t be afraid to assert that you need to MOA.

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      mf September 26, 2011, 10:33 am

      It’s good that you pointed out that the LW doesn’t identify his or her gender, but s/he did mention that they were planning to have kids together. I think a lot of people are assuming the LW is a woman because if her male fiance has the surgery, that probably means they won’t be able to have biological children. (Unless of course he freezes his sperm.)

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        SGMcG September 26, 2011, 10:50 am

        There was nothing about planning to have kids together. The LW “wanted to some day start a family with him.” They could have also easily started the adoption process.

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      Temperance September 26, 2011, 6:28 pm

      Wendy clarified upthread; the LW’s first name is a woman’s name, hence the female pronouns.

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    Fabelle September 26, 2011, 9:16 am

    LW, there’s no reason you should worry about being selfish. Your fiancè must have been feeling confused for a decent amount of time, and therefore your relationship is not what you thought it was. Don’t feel like this is a test for you to prove you’ll love him no matter what (or anything like that). I feel like his sex change would be definitely be traumatizing for you to endure in the role of a “supportive girlfriend”– you need to think about yourself in this situation. It’s NOT selfish.

    Also, to offer a personal perspective, I am attracted to both sexes– but would still NOT be cool with my boyfriend becoming a woman. As a general rule, relationships can’t really survive when either partner is seeking to dramatically alter a major aspect of themselves.

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      honeybeenicki September 26, 2011, 10:48 am

      Very few relationships survive gender reassignment.

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        Zoe Brain September 29, 2011, 4:25 am

        And of those that do survive, many are celibate thereafter. Not most, but many.

        One correction – she did fall in love with a woman. That’s the problem. The woman she fell in love with looked like a man, tried to be a man, but found out that “trying” is irrelevant, it’s something you are or are not. There is no “try”.

        Better to recognise that relatively early. It must be pretty intense for that though.

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    lulu September 26, 2011, 9:17 am

    It takes a long time and a lot of self reflection before someone is able to truly admit that the body they were born in was wrong. It happens a lot. The boyfriend could not admit it to himself for a long time. He believed that being with a girl, being engaged to her would fix the feelings he had deep in his core. To his credit he realized he was wrong and admitted it to the LW before they got married. He wants so much to be normal and that why he thought being with her and falling in love with her would change how he felt about his body. But he knows now that it is not the case.

    This is a situation that is occurs . Sometimes the couple stays together or sometimes the couple separates. It depends on the situation. If the LW doesn’t think she wants to be romantically involved anymore she doesn’t have to be. She just has to tell him what she wrote in her letter, “I love and support you, but I don’t think I can be romantically involved with a woman.”

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    BroGoddess September 26, 2011, 9:20 am

    I think some of the commenters are being a little bit harsh on the fiancé. Accepting that you are outside of gender/sexual norms can be a really difficult process. Some people seem to know they are LGBT from a very young age, while it takes others longer to figure out that that is who they are. The fiancé has probably been in denial for some time, trying not to hurt the LW. He may even have chosen to get engaged because he thought that was what would make her happy. At that age you’re still developing as a person and often very unsure of how to be true to yourself and also do right by others. I hope this couple can do what is best for both of them.

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      lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 9:51 am

      Trying to not hurt her would’ve been breaking up with her until he figured himself out.

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        EB September 26, 2011, 11:01 am

        I am curious how you would handle your daughter telling you she didn’t want to be a girl?

        Most people who struggle with gender identity start expressing the desire to be the opposite gender at a very early age. So, I wonder what things the LW’ s fiance might have expressed to his parents as a child and as an adolescent ? I also wonder if he did express confusion, how they responded? I think even if they were the most supportive parents in the world , they might have just felt he was just going through a phase. I mean lots of children will emulate behavior of the opposite gender at some point and generally it’s not a sign of gender confusion (i.e. little boys play with dresses and dolls and little girls insist on dressing like their brothers). Maybe, they were worried about him being bullied or fitting in and told him he would grow out of these feelings and encouraged him to dress and behave in a way that they felt better represented his sex?

        I am in no way blaming his parents or saying he didn’t hurt the LW. I just imagine figuring out you are trapped in the wrong body is monumentally difficult. Especially, if you’ve tried to express these feelings in the past and been told they will go away or that everybody feels uncomfortable in their body at times or that it is wrong to feel that way.

        But I am genuinely curious about your perspective as a parent; if a child expresses gender confusion, at what age do you start taking that seriously? What age do you encourage them to start exploring that and support them if and when they decide to publicly change their gender identity( I’m not talking surgery, but presenting them self in name, dress, and action as the opposite gender)? elementary school? middle school? high school? college? never?

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 11:19 am

        I’m really glad you asked this. I’ll give you a little extra information before I answer. My daughter is in a Catholic school, raised Catholic and we try to get to church as often as possible, but not close to every Sunday. I like that she is being raised with all of the commandments as a guide, just as I was. I also think she is exposed to some really great things because of this. However, I wholly disagree with the Church on the issue of gays and think that they are hypocritical at the very least on this issue. That said, and its something I considered even during prenancy, I would completely support her with everything I have at any point in her life.

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        Renee September 26, 2011, 12:59 pm

        I’m Catholic also. There is a great ministry, Courage, which start from the AIDS ministry 30 years ago. They have friends, siblings, and are not lonely. One key ingredient is that their Catholic parents understood, they were not straight. Nothing in Catholic teaching says you have to be ex-gay.

        The transgender issue I struggle with, I could not fathom doing such a thing, but in many ways is it nothing more then reconstructive surgery of sorts?

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 26, 2011, 1:08 pm

        Look, the Catholic Church is still right there among the worst when is comes to gay rights… (Hey, just see the Pope’s own chilling remarks just last week!) Thankfully, they are so great and fair and modern when it comes to equally important issues such as women’s rights and the importance of birth control… Oh, wait… That’s right. They pretty much are STILL in the 1600s there, too. Whoops. So sorry. Nevermind.

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      • Budj

        Budjer September 26, 2011, 1:25 pm

        I was raised Catholic and this is exactly my issue with the church. A lot of the policies still in effect are, imo, dated…to put it nicely. A lot of them were made to make sure more members of the church were created (back then numbers were power)…no birth control = more little catholic babies…gay = immoral = making sure members keep procreating…I’m sure we could go on.

        The past few times I’ve been to church there have been a lot of discussions about how attendance is waning…I think they could reinvigorate a lot of their base with adjusting some of the more archaic policies that have no place in the current “social milieu”.

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 1:28 pm

        Agreed 🙂

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 26, 2011, 5:01 pm

        I’m Catholic and discussed this with my son about a month ago so these are my thoughts.

        Research has shown that the most blatantly homophobic men tend to be gay. Also, the proportion of gay men who are priests is higher than gay men in the general population. I think that gay Catholic men would often hide their gayness by becoming a priest. As society has become more open and accepting of gay men there will be fewer and fewer gay men becoming priests to hide their identity. They will instead be openly gay and have relationships like any other man. As the older priests die they will be replaced by currently younger priests who probably aren’t afraid of gay men and who know gay men and don’t see homosexuality as a problem. That’s when the attitude of the church can and will change. Old men who have hidden their sexual orientation for their entire life and maybe even felt that they were perverted aren’t going to change church policy.

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        Temperance September 26, 2011, 6:30 pm

        I have a dear friend who is an ex-seminarian, and very much a happy, out and proud gay man. He throws these RIDICULOUS Christmas parties with other gay priests and ex-seminarians, and it’s the best time ever. I love it.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 26, 2011, 7:47 pm

        They’ll certainly have more trouble coming up with priests if gay men feel free to live their lives openly. They might even have to allow married priests, including gay married priests and also women priests. That could really bring about positive change.

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        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 1:15 pm

        Thanks for sharing that, never heard of it. Isn’t it great that so many Catholics disagree with the Church’s stance on gays? I think so. Just goes to show that people are able to live outside of the box, for lack of a better phrase. Ahhh, openmindedness. Refreshing. Hopefully the Church will let go of their stance on gays someday and catch up to the rest of us.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 11:21 am

        PS. I think I would take it just as seriously if she were expressing confusion now, at 13, 18, 25 or 85.

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        mcminnem September 26, 2011, 12:13 pm

        I think it may have been less trying not to hurt her and more trying to “fix” himself.

        I’ve known a number of people who have done things like this, not necessarily to this extreme, but with the same feelings behind it. I have a number of gay acquaintances (male and female) who for some reason or other weren’t feeling particularly accepted, and for a long time pretended to be “normal” in an attempt to become “normal”. One occurrence in particular that always struck me as sad was a male friend of mine who I knew was gay, but who was otherwise very quiet about it. I eventually learned that his parents were very upset with him when he came out to them, and told him they were sure he was just confused, it was just a phase, and if he just made a real effort he could be “normal”. It was absolutely awful to hear about. The last I spoke to him about it, he was trying desperately to date this girl whose company he enjoyed, but who he had absolutely zero attraction to. He wanted so badly to make his parents happy that he had convinced himself that if he tried hard enough he could make himself be sexually attracted to her. I felt terribly about it, because while I couldn’t *make* him stand up to his parents and be honest with himself, it killed me to see him trying to be something he wasn’t – he’s a total sweetheart and really deserved to be with whoever made him happy.

        I can see the fiance thinking “if I just date this girl, maybe I can be happy as a man.” and then “I love her, but I still don’t feel like a man – maybe I will once we have sex.” And then at some point getting engaged is what you “should” do, and everyone expects it, and he’s thinking “maybe once we get engaged, I’ll feel more like a man because I know I’m going to be her husband.” It’s right up there with the people who think getting married will “fix” their relationship issues and make them happy – they aren’t trying to hurt the people they’re involved with, but it’s only after they’ve done it that they realize hey, that didn’t work, you’re still unhappy except not you’re married and your unhappiness hurts someone else too.
        You can always hope that people are going to have more common sense, or courage, or sense of self than that, but I don’t think we can really say he’s a bad person or malicious or deserving of anger for not realizing sooner that he was going to be hurting someone else.

        \monday morning novel

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      • avatar

        mcminnem September 26, 2011, 12:15 pm

        *except now. Sheesh.

        \monday morning typos

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    • avatar

      Shadowflash1522 September 26, 2011, 9:58 am

      Well, there’s trying not to hurt her and then there’s trying not to hurt her.

      By that I mean that there is no good way for this to have gone down. If he had included her in his doubting/questioning phase, she would probably have wondered about her own inadequacies in the bedroom driving him towards this change. On the other hand, sparing her feelings then means blindsiding her eventually (now) with those same attendant thoughts and fears, plus the looming engagement/wedding that may once have been a source of happiness and is now a source of stress about the future.

      It’s not that he’s changing to become a woman, it’s that he clearly doesn’t have a good grasp of what would make the LW happy. He got engaged to her, had sex with her (not necessarily in that order) to “make her happy” and then sprung this on her and still thinks he can make her happy? He can’t have his cake and eat it too. It’s a tough choice, absolutely, but he made his own bed as far as his straight girlfriend is concerned.

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    • avatar

      Calliopedork September 26, 2011, 4:14 pm

      It is difficult and i also have known many people who dated the opposite sex before.coming to terms with being gay. The difference and I think the reason people are expressing disapproval(i dont think it’s harsh) is the sex and especially the subsequent engagement. You dont propose to someone if you are questioning whether you are even attracted to their gender. Also I think maybe a little anger and recognition that she became affianced under false pretenses may help her decide to dump him atleast romantically

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie September 26, 2011, 8:26 am

    This is an interesting situation. He should have some of his sperm frozen on the chance that it works out for you to be a couple or for him to be a father with someone else after surgery.

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    • avatar

      dr bro September 26, 2011, 8:57 am

      Are you being facetious?

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      • avatar

        MsMisery September 26, 2011, 9:26 am

        I also wondered what prompted this response.

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        amber September 26, 2011, 9:30 am

        i think it’s good for someone that young to think about. if he does get a sex change and then later on decides he wants kids of his own with a partner he may wish he had frozen sperm.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray September 26, 2011, 10:55 am

        Agreed. It’s good sound advice, Fast Eddie. I wonder if doctors/counselors advise re: this when someone is going through the sex-change procedure.

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      • katie

        katie September 26, 2011, 8:28 pm

        they do- my friend is going through the process (male to female) and is currently saving up money to freeze some.

        i think it all depends on the biological children vs. adoption feelings of the person in question though. i know with my friend, her therapist asked her if she ever wanted to have biological children, and she said yes, and so now the whole process is on hold until she freezes some. they wont let them do something so irreversible if precautions aren’t taken, if the person in question does want biological children.

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie September 26, 2011, 9:36 am

        Not at all, simply practical. The surgery includes removal of the testicles thus the opportunity to reproduce must be accomplished or facilitated before then. I had a vasectomy at 30 and fathered no children beforehand. Now I wish I’d had some sperm frozen to enable the option later in life. I didn’t have the parental instinct then and would have been a lousy father but I’d be terrific grandfather.

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        Shadowflash1522 September 26, 2011, 9:42 am

        Good point, since even if he does get ovaries (I am woefully ignorant of the exact procedure) they won’t contain his genetic material anyway…

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      • Budj

        Budjer September 26, 2011, 9:53 am

        I don’t think they get ovaries when the procedure is done…they remove the testicles, dig a hole, and filet the penis…bundle up the nerve endings and make a clitoris out of what the penis used to be…irreversible as far as I know.

        I’m not an expert – so please correct me if I’m wrong.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest September 26, 2011, 10:00 am

        “dig a hole, and filet the penis…” could’ve done without that imagery so early 😉

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      • Budj

        Budjer September 26, 2011, 10:07 am

        Haha…when the procedure was explained to me I was cringing…I haven’t been able to explain it any other way since…I mean…that’s the stuff a lot of guys have nightmares about.

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      • avatar

        SGMcG September 26, 2011, 10:55 am

        No – you’re pretty spot on with your assessment. Except you’re also forgetting the months of hormone cocktail beforehand. Not only is it to grow mammary tissue for breasts, but it also chemically deadens the testicles for easier removal. They don’t get new ovaries or a uterus for gender reassignments though – the medical technology for that doesn’t exist…at least not yet.

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      • KKZ

        Pankakes October 6, 2011, 1:03 pm

        This cracked me up. I wrote a paper in college about the ethics gender assignment surgery at birth for babies who are born intersex (otherwise known as hermaphrodite) and during my research, I saw some pretty damn graphic photos and video (!!) of gender reassignment surgery performed on adults, specifically male to female surgery (thank you, internet). More than I ever cared to see, but I found it morbidly interesting nonetheless and was compelled to share the details with my poor fiance. I explained how they filet the penis, as you so wonderfully put it, and then remove the “penis meat” and turn it inside out to start forming the vagina. To this day the phrase “penis meat” is a surefire way to make us both giggle (and make him cringe a little).
        And for the record, no, men being reassigned as women don’t get any of the “internals.” Just a makeshift vagina and a clitoris made out of the head of their former penis, and labia minora and all that. I don’t think the male body has room in its design for ovaries/uterus etc.

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      • avatar

        Blitzen September 26, 2011, 12:12 pm

        Nope. No ovaries. What Budjer said.

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  • avatar

    Shadowflash1522 September 26, 2011, 9:32 am

    Oooh boy. Tough call.

    First off, I feel obligated to point out that this guy (no disrespect to his perceived gender identity, I call everybody “guys”) has invalidated your engagement by changing the rules halfway. You don’t have to feel obligated to stay with him just because you accepted his proposal–you did so under premises which are no longer true, i.e. that he identifies as male and believes in the traditional family unit. It’s not like he’s changing his hair color, he’s changing a fundamental part of himself. The reality is, he won’t be *precisely* the same person as before–enormous changes in hormones will manifest in thought patterns and maybe even personality. Not to scare you, LW, but males and females think differently. Keep it in mind.

    On the other hand, I don’t think love necessarily has gender boundaries, marriage even less so. You could love him emotionally, maybe even strictly platonically, and still make a marriage/family work (depends a bit on what state you live in). Granted, it would be nontraditional, but if you love him that much and still love him that much post-surgery it could work. Don’t limit yourself in that way.

    On that note, here’s another tidbit of food for thought: would you be ok being romantically involved but not sexually? Or sexually involved with other people? I was just wondering, as I saw no clear indications from the letter whether *he* still wants to be with you sexually. He knows you’re straight–he took your virginity, it’s kind of hard to miss–so why would he ask you to change or even make a long-term exception if he’s not willing to reciprocate?

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    • avatar

      mf September 26, 2011, 10:30 am

      “The reality is, he won’t be *precisely* the same person as before”

      That’s a good point. A sex change will probably cause a huge, fundamental upheaval in his life. Experiences and changes like this will alter you. If the LW thinks she will be able to continue their romantic relationship, I think she should put things on hold for a while and see how everything plays out.

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  • avatar

    amber September 26, 2011, 9:39 am

    i definitely agree with wendy. talk to him. this is a big big deal and you need to have an open and honest conversation with him. there is nothing wrong with not being able to have a relationship with him after this change. as much as the core of who he is will be there he’s also going to be completely different. if you’re considering it maybe you could find some local resources for partners of and people who have gone through this change. talking to someone who has been through this may be beneficial in deciding whether or not it’s something you think you can handle. i also agree that talking it out with someone trusted is a good idea. unfortunately for him he’s probably struggled with these feelings for a long time. how serious is he about this change? has he talked to anyone about this, like a doctor or therapist to figure out what if this is truly what he wants? i think if he does see a therapist it would be great for you to go to a session with him. good luck lw, i can’t imagine how scary/uncertain a time this is for both of you.

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  • avatar

    Kerrycontrary September 26, 2011, 9:54 am

    I would just like to say good job Wendy! I would have no idea how to approach such a tough question. And I think the LW did a great job of staying open minded throughout this process.

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  • avatar

    Ktfran September 26, 2011, 10:20 am

    Great advice Wendy and very well thought out.

    Sometimes, I wish we were able to like your comments. Something to think about when you’re deciding how you want the thumbs thing to pan out.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow September 26, 2011, 10:37 am

    I commend both the LW and Wendy for being so compassionate and understanding of the fiance’s decision. I also don’t think, like others, that he was intentionally deceiving the LW. He is struggling with his identity, and regardless of his gender presentation, he fell in love with the LW, and she with him. If he’s at the point where he is considering living his life as a woman, then I’m sure he’s felt like one on the inside for quite some time. LW fell in love with him – ALL of him. Just because he’s going to change his outward gender presentation doesn’t mean that his essential self or his personality is changing.

    Also, changing his gender identity doesn’t HAVE to include gender reassignment surgery. It’s a long process that may or may not lead to that. There’s male, and there’s female, and there’s A LOT in between. Gender is very fluid.

    That said, if LW is not sexually attracted to the female form, then there’s nothing she or the fiance can do about that. I don’t think it’s unusual at all for people their age to still be coming into their own as adults and discovering their identities. An engagement at their age might not be such a good idea anyway for these reasons. Who, at 21, REALLY knows who they are going to be in 5, 10, or 20 years?

    I think it’s obvious that the engagement should be called off. I think LW should support her partner as much as she can, and since gender transition doesn’t happen overnight (it’s a PROCESS), she doesn’t have to make up her mind right away. But like Wendy said, she needs to be honest about her doubts – and I’m sure he will understand.

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  • avatar

    It's not me, I swear September 26, 2011, 10:53 am

    He’s wants to turn his outie into an innie?!?

    “*That’s* a deal-breaker, Ladeeeeezz”

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 26, 2011, 11:52 am

    It is a bit much of your fiance’ to not only lay this whole sex change thing on you this late in the game — but then to also pretty much expect you to suddenly become a lesbian? Now that’s really pushing it!

    I applaud you for wanting to be there for him as a friend. That is exactly what you should do.

    You need to be honest with him about the fact that you aren’t a lesbian. There’s nothing wrong with your feelings here. Hey, I am open and accepting — but if my lover wanted to become a woman? It wouldn’t work. Not for me… I am sexually attracted to men. If I wanted to date women, I’d already be doing that. So would you.

    It sucks that you are going to lose your fiance’ as a romantic partner. But be grateful this is happening to you at 21 — and not 41 or 51! I give your fiance’ a lot of credit for sorting this out before you walked down that aisle in that dress he wanted to wear…

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  • avatar

    Christy September 26, 2011, 11:55 am

    I don’t think the LW’s fiance is actually pressuring her to stay with him. It seems to me that he’s just saying “I’m thinking about this change. I’ve been struggling with it, but I want you to know that I still love you.” Nowhere does the letter mention pressure from the fiance for the LW to stay with him.

    I think it’s great that the LW is so in touch with her feelings about this and isn’t rejecting her fiance outright. It must be rough to even talk about this with him. Kudos, LW, for having such an open mind.

    And it’s also great that you know that you shouldn’t try to stop your fiance if this is what he wants for himself. Transitioning is a big freaking deal, as I’m sure you’re gathering. He really can’t ask you to do anything more than support him. You don’t need to stay with him romantically/sexually. This is a total game-changer, and he has to recognize that. I’m sorry you’ll be losing your fiance, that sucks. But it’s better than being in an unfulfilling relationship (post-transition for you) or in a relationship with someone whose gender identity doesn’t match his presentation (pre-transition for him).

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 26, 2011, 12:01 pm

    She implies just that though…

    “He said he’d still love me even after he changed genders, but as much as I would love and accept him as a friend and support him through the whole journey, I just don’t think I could make it work with a female on that level. I don’t want to lose my fiancé, and I’m afraid to tell him that it wouldn’t work with us on a romantic level after he changed because I know it’d break his heart.”

    And I don’t think the STILL means as a friend either. It’s also, not uncommon for men in this situation to do this.

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  • avatar

    cmarie September 26, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Dear Chris,
    I know I said I loved you too, and I really did. I’m sorry I broke up with you after having sex for the first time. It meant a lot to both of us, just in different ways. Telling you I was gay was the most difficult thing I ever had to do, but it was also the most important, honest, and kind thing I could have done. I’m sorry I hid the fact that I was struggling from you, but I wasn’t sure either. I truly loved you and was afraid that if I told you and you left me then it turned out I wasn’t, I would have broken both our hearts for nothing. If I hadn’t discovered myself then it was you I wanted, my first love, the one I still love with all my heart. I’m sorry I hurt you but I’m so thankful you decided to be my friend. I know I didn’t deserve your understanding but you gave it anyways. I was confused and scared and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt you. But you forgave me and are now my best friend in the whole world. I can’t thank you enough for sticking by me. I want you to know that I would still love you even if you hated me.
    Love,
    me

    LW I can’t say enough what a wonderful person you are for sticking with this guy. However, it is understandable if you need to leave to protect yourself. It’s not selfish. You are only human and you have to take care your own emotional well being. Stay strong.

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  • avatar

    G September 26, 2011, 12:27 pm

    oh LW, let me share my story with you, as the similarities are striking and you may benefit….
    My first boyfriend revealed his confusion about his gender identity to me after we had been dating for over a year and I had lost my virginity to him. At the time, he was not sure if gender reassignment was the path for him, and we kept dating. I told him that if he did decide to go through the process, I would support him and be his best friend, but that I couldn’t date him anymore. I am a heterosexual female who wants a relationship with a heterosexual male, and that’s just the way it is. I told him that, just as he needed to be true to himself and his needs, so did I, and I needed something different than he did. When he decided to transition (2 years later), we broke up. It was incredibly difficult, in part because of the secrecy surrounding the situation (I was the only person he had told, I was sworn to secrecy, and I didn’t tell anyone the truth about what I was dealing with until much later). This is when I learned 2 very important life lessons. 1. Love is not enough. I’m sorry Disney, but it isn’t. Love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship or make you happy. Not being happy does not mean you don’t love the person you are with. 2. Secrets are poisonous. Always.
    I urge you to tell someone what you are going through…I felt guilty about my feelings because they seemed secondary to my boyfriend’s lifelong struggle. I thought that since what he was going through was arguably “worse” than what I was experiencing, I should have been able to “just deal with it” or “get over it” in order to support him. I hated that I couldn’t deal with dating him through the transition, and I felt like a bad person for abandoning a loved one in a time of need. None of these things are true. My feelings were legitimate, and yours are too. You are experiencing this alongside your fiancee, and you need to have your own support, from a therapist, a relative, or a friend to help you deal.
    My experience is different from yours…because of other circumstances (besides his transition), I had to part ways with my ex. After we broke up, we had less and less contact with more and more problems until I cut all ties with him. I have not seen or heard from him in years (though I know through mutual friends that he did continue his transition and now lives as a female in another state. I have referred to him here by male pronouns, and I’m sorry if that offends, but in my head he is male and that is the only way I know to tell the story).
    The moral of the story is….take care of yourself. It’s okay to want what you want, even if what you want is not who you love. You will love again. It is not betraying him to want something that he isn’t, but it is betraying him to expect him to BE what he isn’t. Your relationship will continue to change in ways you can’t yet imagine. You can be his best friend but not his lover, or remain his fiance, or part ways, or do whatever suits you, but ONLY if you have personal, daily, psychological and emotional support to sustain your own needs and strength. As someone on the other side of this type of situation, whatever path you decide will be difficult, but with love, introspection, and honesty you can come through it, together or alone. Good luck!

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    • avatar

      HmC September 26, 2011, 12:57 pm

      “It is not betraying him to want something that he isn’t, but it is betraying him to expect him to BE what he isn’t.”

      This is so well put and such great relationship advice, in many contexts other than this one.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow September 26, 2011, 4:19 pm

        I was thinking the exact same thing.

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    Nick September 26, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I’m betting that there has been some movie or documentary about this very thing that the LW may find instructive. That may help to start envisioning what changes are contemplated. They could also seek out people who have gone through that particular change and go for coffee to talk it through. They are out there. So to speak.

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  • avatar

    Jubietta September 26, 2011, 1:36 pm

    LW, you’re getting lots of romantic advice and I’d like to add a suggestion to take care of yourself in other ways. Being in your early 20’s means you’ve got dynamic times ahead — education, career building, learning to stand separate from your family of origin and maybe building a family of your own — and that’s a lot to face with a shaky foundation under your primary relationship. Being there for your SO, whether romantically or not, might give you many excuses for avoiding the building blocks of your own future and I hope you won’t fall behind with your needs in this important part of your life. Go to school. Build your career. Travel. Play poker with strangers on the subway. Whatever it takes to not lose yourself in his/her unique and all-encompassing voyage for identity.

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  • avatar

    Elle September 26, 2011, 2:46 pm

    LW, I admire you for being so open-minded and supportive of your fiance. Wendy and everybody here gave wonderful advice. I would like to suggest, since you’re not the only one in this situation, that you go to Straight Spouse Network.(www.straightspouse.org) They have support groups throughout US. Hope there’s one in your area. Wish you and your fiance the very best.

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  • avatar

    savannah September 26, 2011, 2:56 pm

    One of the things i’ve noticed in the commentary is that people have clung to this idea that sexual orientation is rock solid and that asking someone to change their orientation is not just unthinkable but also impossible. This of course has been drilled into us for political reasons and to protect the rights of many gay and lesbian peoples. And this is the case for many many individuals, but its just not that simple. It’s also been used to discredit and marginalize bisexuals and those who feel pressure to label their sexual preferences. Perhaps because I live in state where there are lots of sexual reassignment surgery I have seen relationships survive post-op under the idea that one person loves another person, regardless of what sex or gender that person was/is/will be. At first is can be confusing, like is the lesbian who is now married to a man still a lesbian? or is it just two people who found each other and created a home and family?
    This is not to discredit the very real crisis the LW is going thought right now, but rather to show another perspective about how to think about these types of issues.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow September 26, 2011, 4:31 pm

      Very well said. I was thinking the same thing but couldn’t find the right words to express it. I think gender and sexuality are both on continuums and are both very fluid. The LW’s partner’s outward appearance is going to change to match who he already IS on the inside. I agree with “the idea that one person loves another person, regardless of what sex or gender that person was/is/will be”. This may or may not be true for the LW – sexual attraction is important in any romantic relationship, and it just might not be there for her during or after her partner’s transition, but I think they could give it a shot and see what happens, given how much they already care about each other.

      The other thing is, he is going to encounter SO MUCH hatred, discrimination, stigma, and general misunderstanding and confusion from outsiders (and possibly close friends / family) during and after the transition, so she has to be sure that she is ready for all of that if she does decide to stay with him – because a lot of it may be directed at her by proxy. It’s not fair, but it is just one more thing to consider.

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      TSUGambler September 28, 2011, 12:04 pm

      It may be true that sexuality and sexual attraction are fluid FOR YOU, but it’s certainly not true for everyone. I am 100% gay, and have no attraction to women whatsoever. Never have, never will. Some people may exist somewhere in the “middle” of the Kinsey scale, and have varying amounts of attraction to either sex, but my experience is that most people’s attractions vary quite little, if at all.

      I think most comments are trying to tell the LW that she is under NO obligation to stay with her fiance–that this is, as many have said, a dealbreaker–and she should not be made to feel guilty about it not working. If my boyfriend decided to become a woman, I would wish him the best of luck, and tell him sincerely that I hope he finds a suitable romantic partner–because it won’t be me.

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    Temperance September 26, 2011, 6:35 pm

    LW:

    I think it sucks that he waited until after taking your virginity, which seems important to you (since you mentioned it) to drop this bomb. I’m sorry. I truly am. At least you know before marriage.

    You do not owe him continued companionship; honestly, you can’t force yourself to change such fundamental things about yourself. If he goes through HRT, he’ll be infertile and in most cases, he won’t be able to “perform” sexually if he chooses to keep his genitalia the way they are.

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    spark September 26, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks that LW’s continuing a relationship with him is not even an option on the table? He wants to become a woman! I would bet ANYTHING that a HUGE part of that transformation will be his becoming involvement in a heterosexual relationship as a WOMAN. As in, I think he wants to have sex with men, and do so as a woman.

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      Lindsay September 27, 2011, 11:16 pm

      I don’t really believe in telling someone else what is or isn’t an option for them. But beyond that, yes, he could decide he wants to be with men. Or he might decide he wants to stay with women. That’s something the LW has to take into account, but he wouldn’t be the first person to go through a sex change and continue being attracted to the people he’s been attracted to.

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      Lucy August 25, 2014, 2:32 pm

      I’m replying to your post, but this is really directed at most of the “RUN RUN RUN OMG HE’S A FREAK” posters here, not just you.

      It’s obvious most of you know little to nothing about trans people. That’s OK, because trans acceptance in this country is still in its infancy. But please don’t make categorical assertions based in ignorance. Educate yourselves before you render an opinion.

      As to this specific point: the vast majority of trans people do not change their romantic orientation when they transition. IOW, if he liked chicks before he transitioned, it’s extremely likely that he’ll still like chicks during and afterward.

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    Foots September 26, 2011, 9:06 pm

    This would be perfect for one of those columns that Wendy did one time, where at the end, she said only one word–“MOA!!”

    LW, this is my advice to you.

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    David Jay September 26, 2011, 9:55 pm

    Gotta say.. THAT is what I call a DEAL BREAKER! He might just be effin’ around with you to get out of the engagement. Men have done worse 🙁
    Forget MOA… Try RAS (Run Away Screaming!)

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    David Jay September 26, 2011, 9:55 pm

    Gotta say.. THAT is what I call a DEAL BREAKER! He might just be effin’ around with you to get out of the engagement. Men have done worse 🙁
    Forget MOA… Try RAS (Run Away Screaming!)

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    JDW September 28, 2011, 10:38 am

    End. It. NOW! Sorry, but, unless you have some proclivities of your own, the first moment you see him in a dress…and make-up…with boobs…you’re going to think to yourself – “what happened to the MAN I fell in love with”. And then you’ll think “what, no dong too?” If you dig chicks and dudes – great – give it a shot. But if you actually like men – there are roughly 2.99999999 BILLION of them who don’t need to turn themselves into a woman. Find. Just. One. You’re young and this is a complication no one needs to take on if they are not FULLY invested – and even then – this is still a complication no one needs to take on. Just as he has the right to want he wants in this life – so you do. And there is no reason of EITHER of you to feel guilty about that. I’ve been married for 6 years myself. The day my beloved wife tells me she wants to be a man is the day I tell her I love her, that I support her decision, and I am filing for divorce.

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    memomachine September 28, 2011, 10:46 am

    Hmmm.

    “I also recently lost my virginity to him”

    He’s trying to ditch you and using that whole “I feel like I’m really a woman” to drive you away. This makes you feel like the bad person so you won’t blame him. Later on you’ll run into each other and he’ll still be a guy, probably with a new girl on his arm, and he’ll just laugh it off and tell you that he realized that he was really a guy inside all along.

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    Roux September 28, 2011, 10:55 am

    Don’t walk away from this guy ….run away fast as you can. If he had these feelings and didn’t share them with you that means he is willing to hide a lot from you. In a marriage you cannot have big secrets like this and make it work.

    Run away as fast as you can.

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    Nicholas September 28, 2011, 11:28 am

    I don’t think you have any obligation to stay in a romantic relationship with your fiancee if he chooses to go through with a sex change. You can be supportive of his decision and remain friends but you shouldn’t feel pressure to act as if this has not changed things between you because it has. I know your bf may be confused at this time but I think he is a bit of a cad for taking your virginity while having doubts about his own sexuality and gender identity. Considering the amount of time you had waited I have to believe you would not have had sex with him if you knew about his internal conflict…or at least he should have been more upfront with you so you could have made a more informed decision. This alone makes me uncomfortable with the dynamics between you two and makes me think you need a total re-evaluation of the relationship.

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    Steve Scanlan September 28, 2011, 11:34 am

    Quote “He’ll be the same person, after all — the person you fell in love with.”

    First of all, he will be a she. Not the same person. Literally.

    Second, serious issues. When a man gets to the point that he is considering slicing off what anatomically makes him a man, being normal is not indicated….

    Run away, run away, run away.

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    Mark in SD September 28, 2011, 11:42 am

    It all depends upon what you want out of life. Do you want to live your life for him, or for you? Because anyone so confused about his gender surely has other issues you will be expected to deal with later. Your life will be nothing more than making decisions based upon what’s is in HIS best interest. What’s best for HIM, which people and family members you can associate with based upon their level of acceptance of HIM, who will hire HIM, where can you live where HE will be accepted. All the while you will compromise by giving in on things that YOU want until there will be nothing left of you. Gender confusion is in no small part, pure narcissism.

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    J September 28, 2011, 2:14 pm

    First things first. The engagement is over. Be friends or whatever but get out of there.
    Secondly, this is not normal behavior. He wants to amputate his penis. If he wanted to amputate his thumbs and pretend he was a monkey, he would still be a man with no thumbs. The boyfriend needs counseling but she needs to move on. She does not need this as a drag on her life and it is not fair to her.

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      Lucy August 25, 2014, 2:27 pm

      Obvious troll is obvious. Shoo.

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    Dan Schwartz September 28, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Awww, come on — It’s just a creative way for the guy to dump the girl after he popped her cherry!

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    Lucy April 1, 2012, 9:28 pm

    the same has happend to me the only deffence is that im bi and hes 19 and im 18. we been engaged for a year now and he only told me the other day. i dont know what to do.

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    Melissa March 11, 2013, 3:24 pm

    I’ve just been put into the same situation, I’ve been with my partner for a year and he’s just told me he wants to become a female (Without removing the penis) The mane difference is that he had told me before we got together than he had thoughts in the past, I was very accepting as I’ve got a few friends who have wanted to do the same. However it’s very difficult to get your head around when it comes from a person you love, what we’ve decided to do is take things slow and to wait till I’ve become adjusted fully.

    I love my fiance very much and I know that although now things are hard, that we will get through this together. Emotions will be running wild and I feel sadness and anger among other things, but I know they will settle eventually.

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    Lucy August 25, 2014, 2:26 pm

    The only thing you can do is wait and see what happens. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to make any permanent decisions. Maybe you’ll be able to make the adjustment; maybe you’ll try it for a year or two and it won’t work out; maybe he’ll decide he doesn’t want to transition after all. In the end, this is just like any other relationship: you proceed with the best of intentions, but there are never any guarantees.

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