When Your Husband Wants to Be Your Wife

ByABC News via via logo

June 27, 2005 — -- They are a happy couple raising a child together in New Hampshire, and sharing custody of their three other children.

Four years ago, Judi Howden married Mike (Mickey) Howden. Today, she is married to Mikayla Howden, after Mickey had a sex-change operation.

"Mikayla is still the same person," Judi Howden said. "Everything is still there, minus body parts … The person hasn't changed."

At the time of their marriage, Judi Howden knew Mickey had questions about his sexuality. A month into their relationship, Mickey mentioned that he used to cross-dress. Then, he said that he still cross-dressed. Finally, he told Judi he was a lesbian trapped in a man's body.

It took Judi just 24 hours to realize that Mickey's identity crisis was something she could work with.

"For us it's just been an evolution together," Judi Howden said. "We didn't know where it was going to lead. Even at the beginning we didn't know that it was going to culminate in surgery."

Judi said she and Mickey thought he might have the sex-change operation when he reached 50 or 60, but Mickey's problem "took on a life of its own."

The hardest part of it all, Judi said, was Mickey's depression as he wrestled over the decision.

"There were times when she would just go so deep that I really couldn't even reach her," Judi Howden said. "A lot of it is because of the isolation, the anxiety of going through these changes and how is society going to perceive me? You know, who do we tell? When do we tell them?"

For the Howdens, one of the greatest sources of comfort and strength through Mickey's process has been their daughter, Kailynn.

"We named her middle name Hope because we felt there was so much hope in our relationship in that bonding that happened, having a baby between the two of us," Mikayla Howden said. "It's brought the whole family together as a unit by having one child that's both of ours."

The Howdens said their other three children have adjusted to Mikayla's change.

"For them to deal with the fact that I'm a transsexual wasn't difficult at all," Mikayla Howden said. "In fact, because of their age and being pre-teens, it wasn't an issue."

Mikayla Howden said the sex-change has actually made her a better parent.

"Judi was mentioning yesterday that I was always nurturing, but I found myself to be more of an angry person because of the anger inside of me," Mikayla Howden said. "[The sex change] has made me that more nourishing with my kids. The experience has been incredible."

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