Transgender Love: When Husband Becomes Wife

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She said not enough partners and families of loved ones speak out about the experience, one that can be like "walking through fire, but once it's done...can be a deep bond."

Boyd, a professor of gender studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, said her work in the field indicates that far more partners split.

"I would not wish transition on anybody," she said. "All major life changes are difficult, but the lack of understanding is triple -- dealing with all the prejudice and bias, and even the sensationalism and prurient interest."

Such was the case with Diane, who said the six years leading up to Lina's living as a woman were gut-wrenching.

"One hour I was processing one thing and the next something else," said Diane. "It would start with what does this mean for our relationship and how will you look and what will the neighbors say, and will we be legally married?"

They were, and according to Diane, no state reverses a marriage between a man and a woman, even after transitioning to a different gender.

"In the trans world there's a saying that 'one person's transition is everyone's transition,'" she said. After the initial shock, Diane and Lina went into therapy.

Transgender Couple Viewed as Lesbians

In 2007, Lina began hormone treatment. The following year, they began to tell friends and family, all of whom were supportive. Finally, they picked a day when Lina would "leave work as a man and return to work as a woman."

Then, just last November, after telling all her co-workers, Lina officially transitioned to a woman.

Lina said she will likely "complete the picture" and have genital surgery, but international medical guidelines require that she live for at least a year as a woman. There are also financial considerations.

By June of this year, the couple stopped seeing their therapist because, said Diane, "we no longer had anything to talk about."

Their worries about public acceptance never materialized.

Sometimes co-workers slip their pronouns, but immediately correct themselves, and most have been supportive. "I am basically the same, with a few improvements," said Lina.

Both say that not having children has helped them cope better with the transition. They also don't have religious beliefs that would be in conflict with Lina's choice.

Today, Diane and Lina say they are more guarded in public, where they are often perceived as lesbians, even though Diane is straight.

"But if I really want to hold hands, then I do," said Diane. "I think it's a little easier for me than for Lina, but that's mostly because she still feels awkward about drawing any attention to herself."

As for their sex life, Diane said, "We don't talk about with anyone but us… We are a romantic and affectionate married couple. We don't live as siblings."

"I am very attracted to men," said Diane. "Does this mean I look at men and feel sad? No, because I love Lina."

Lina said that even though her gender identity female, she is not attracted to men.

"My attraction to women hasn't changed," she said. "Mine is a gender issue, not my sexual orientation."

But, it's hard to let go of the gender notions and Diane said Lina still makes some male accommodations.

"She still kills the roaches and carries the heavy stuff, but same-sex couples have those divisions of duties as well," said Diane. And Lina's "essence" is still there.

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