Family Navigates Unchartered World of Gender Transition

"She had a girl inside her ... so she went on a surgery to get it out," son said

July 21, 2009 -- After struggling with gender identity issues her whole life, Chloe Prince -- formerly Ted Prince -- returned from gender reassignment surgery in Thailand in May 2008. She underwent 13 hours of surgery, and three major procedures, to become a new woman.

"There was no hint of the man behind the woman, it was just the girl," Chloe said, looking at herself in the mirror for the first time. "It was magic. It was magic."

But it was far from magical for Rene, Chloe's wife, to see her husband -- now as a woman -- for the first time.

"I met her at the airport when she came back from the operation, and I was just scared I wasn't going to recognize her face," Rene told ABC News.

Watch the full story on "Primetime: Family Secrets," TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET

Chloe's transition was rooted in a lifetime of gender confusion. As a boy and into adulthood, Ted secretly dressed in girls' clothes and wondered what it felt like to be a woman. But in 2003, a shocking diagnosis of Klinefelter's syndrome, a condition that occurs in men who have an extra X chromosome, allowed Ted to express his inner female.

But with Chloe's transformation, the northern Ohio couple, who had been together for nearly eight years, entered a gray area -- forced to redefine the dynamics of their relationship and Chloe's new place in the family.

"Am I my dad's son still or am I his daughter? Am I her wife, am I her spouse, am I her husband?" Chloe asked.

If they are no longer husband and wife, what are they? Before Chloe's surgery, Rene threatened to leave, but said she stayed for the sake of their two sons, Logan, 7, and Barry, 6. She wanted to keep their family intact. But maintaining life as it was before had been difficult for both Rene and Chloe.

Chloe said she still sees Rene through Ted's eyes, and is still very attracted to her.

"So she's three feet away from me in bed, and I want to go over there, you know, and hug her, I want to kiss her, you know, and I can smell her. It's torturous," Chloe said. "And when the lights are off, I can still hear Ted's voice and I can -- even smell is still the same."

Click Here to see photos of Chloe's transformation.

End of Intimacy for Husband and Wife?

But Rene is no longer comfortable being intimate with Chloe.

"I warned him. That's it, you know. I can't, can't do that. And I think that he thought that I was gonna change, that it was gonna change. Somehow I would still feel like having sex. And I don't," Rene told ABC News' Juju Chang.

Chloe and Rene still hug and kiss on the lips, but the physical affection ends there. They both say they miss the physical closeness they once shared.

"I miss being able to go out on a date with my husband and sit next to him and hug him and kiss him in public. I don't feel comfortable doing that," Rene said.

It's not only their lack of intimacy that causes tension in their relationship. With two women in the house, there is confusion and sometimes resentment over who plays what role within the family.

Chloe feels she is still expected to mow the lawn and do all the heavy lifting around the house -- tasks once done by Ted. And even though she does the rough-housing and "daddy-like" activities with her sons, Chloe considers herself another mother to her boys -- not their father.

Chloe was hurt when a Mother's Day photo for Logan's school was taken without her -- although Rene reassured her it was not intentional. And the giving of Mother's Day cards caused confusion for Chloe and Rene's sons, when the boys didn't know which one they should give the card to.

"I just bring it home for both of you guys, because I don't know which one to give it to," Logan said.

Growing Up With Two Mothers

Chloe and Rene's sons, Logan and Barry, have had to adjust to a life without a father. They know their family is unique, but their understanding of the details of Chloe's transition from man to woman is age appropriate.

When asked by ABC News' Juju Chang about having two mommies, Barry explained: "She had a girl inside her. So she went on a surgery to get, get it out."

In almost every way, the boys are like little boys anywhere. They love school and playing video games. They run around outside with friends and neighbors, but it's clear that the boys are paying a price for Chloe's transition outside the home.

Mother Worries for Sons' Well Being

Some parents no longer allow their children to play at the Prince household, and they have been teased for their nontraditional family. Chloe said she overheard one unsettling interaction between her son and a friend.

"Logan was going over there and the one oldest child was like 'Hey, no girls aloud' and Logan said 'I am a boy' and he goes, 'Are you sure?'"

Like any mother, Rene worries about how this will affect her sons.

"Every minute of every day I'm worried about them being unhappy," she said. "Maybe somebody teasing them for their dad, for them being left out, because their family isn't like everybody else's family."

Rene's concern is understandable, but according to Michele Angello, a clinical sexologist who has worked with transgender families for the past 10 years, Logan and Barry will adjust to their new family dynamic.

"This, if handled like any other family transition ... meaning, a move, a new job, a divorce in the family. If it's handled where the children feel safe ... and they're allowed to talk about it, then it's not going to be traumatic. In the long run, they'll be perfectly fine," Angello told ABC News.

Chloe acknowledged that her sons have been affected by her gender transition, and she struggles with the guilt of that responsibility but believes she had no other choice.

"I carry the selfishness as guilt around constantly. It's something that I'm looking to find resolve for," she said. "I did what I had to do. And had I not done what I did, there would be a gravestone somewhere with my name on it. So -- am I here? I'm alive and I am happy. I am no longer in conflict with what I see in the mirror."

Logan and Barry told Juju Chang that they sometimes miss having a daddy, but more than anything else, they just want their parents -- now their two moms -- to get along.

"We feel bad and we don't want them to argue," Logan said.

"Yeah, we, we just, we just want them to like be happy that they have each other," Barry echoed.

So what does the future hold for the Prince family? What does Chloe hope the future will bring?

"Being able to be ourselves, and just enjoying being ourselves, and really being happy of all of what we've accomplished. And being able to just breathe. It's all behind us now," Chloe said.

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