Change Your Gender, Change Your World, Part 3

The Butterfly Effect fascinated me when I was younger.  As time passed I realized how this can be applied to so many facets of our lives.  A butterfly effect is usually caused by a decision.  A choice.  An action.  

Essentially the idea is a butterfly will flutter its wings, and the teeny tiny breeze that this causes will affect something else, it can build and gather strength and a hurricane could develop.  A storm from a barely noticeable flap.  This is similar to the ripple effect from a pebble being tossed in a lake.  This is not unlike a journey of a thousand steps beginning with a single footfall.  Every novel starts with a humble sentence.  

People are not immune to this.  Decisions and choices others around us make could impact us, whether directly or indirectly.  A colleague finding a new job will likely result in you picking up extra assignments at work.  Labor shortages in one country will trickle down and will likely impact the timeliness of goods being exported which could delay the delivery of the black patent stilettos you ordered.

Our gender identity is personal, important, and sacred.  This is our journey, our life, ourselves.  Of course, we don't decide or choose our gender identity, but we do choose whether or not we will acknowledge or deny who we are or what we want or what we wear.

It can be a lonely journey.  It is not an easy thing for us to explain to someone who has never felt conflicted about their own gender identity.  But I get it.  You get it.  We've all been there.  But just because we make this trek alone, it doesn't mean that our actions and decisions only impact ourselves.  Our gender identity causes a Butterfly Effect, often in a drastic way.  

I've been married for close to fifteen years.  And like any relationship, my wife and I have experienced a lot of life together.  We have purchased a house, adopted dogs, changed jobs, moved, lost family members, and other significant life moments.  We have struggled financially, celebrated accomplishments, we have learned to live with each other, how to communicate, how to support each other.  It's been an adventure and it's one I am happy to be taking.  But our life has had many conversations that most couples don't have.  Or if they do, it's not often known.  My wife and I have had many discussions about clothes, gender, and identity.  Sometimes these talks are superficial chats about eyeliner, sometimes they are deeper.  In life and in a relationship, it's normal for there to be evolution and growth.  My gender identity has also evolved and changed.  

I came out to my wife after a few months of dating.  I knew I wanted to marry her, and I knew that *this* side of me wasn't going to go away.  It wasn't a phase.  I knew I needed to lay my cards on the table, so to speak.  She had to know all of me.  She deserved to.  I felt it wouldn't be fair if she didn't know about my crossdressing.  I knew it was going to come out at some point in our relationship so it was only fair for her to know before we were married, before we were engaged, before the major commitment milestones in a relationship.  

There were growing pains.  Frustrated conversations, confusion, and heavy, emotional, deep talks.  I don't think she ever really understood this side of me and why I wore what I wore, but I wasn't expecting her to fully understand.  I didn't understand this myself, so I didn't think anyone else would, or could, either.  We had the typical conversations about my sexuality and whether or I wanted to transition or if I had any concerns about dysphoria or feeling I was born in the wrong body.  But once the dust settled, we learned how to live with my crossdressing.  

And that was that.  For a while.  

I've written about my journey before so I won't go into toooooo much detail, but my wardrobe, like my gender identity, began to evolve.  My wife gave me a dress.  She did my makeup.  She helped me select a wig.  I was testing the waters of a new ocean.  I was pushing against the boundaries of gender that I had always known.  A new, steep hill was now the next part of my journey.  If wearing a dress didn't feel right, if I hadn't felt beautiful in makeup or mesmerized by how I looked in a wig, then indeed my gender identity was indeed all about clothes, all about lingerie.

But of course, *this* was more than lingerie.  

As things progressed, I started to notice my femme side establish her own life, if you will.  My wife noticed it too.  As my feelings and excitement grew, so did her uncertainty.  So did her insecurity.  So did her fears.  What was next?  Where was this going?  *This* often scared her.

See?  Butterfly wings.

My gender identity was evolving, I was discovering... her.  I was meeting Hannah.  I was becoming Hannah.  And at the same time, my wife was meeting Hannah too.  Gradually, but quickly, her husband wasn't always home.  Sometimes it was Hannah she was watching a movie with.

It didn't take long for me to start questioning my identity in regards to terminology.  As much as I loved loved loved Hannah's world, her life, her wardrobe, I knew I didn't want to always BE her.  Since I felt that I only wanted to keep one stiletto in Hannah's world, I wasn't comfortable quite yet identifying as transgender.  For too long I associated the word with transitioning, with a permanent change.  As my friend educated me, I learned how inclusive the word could be, and I came to accept that all of this, all of Hannah, was more than just clothes, makeup, and shoes.  It was all about identity.

The word 'crossdresser' was like a bra that never quite fit right, no matter where I was on my journey.  Once I realized this was my identity, then I became more comfortable with identifying as transgender.  But I was worried about how my wife would feel.  I had put her through a wide, dizzying array of emotions over the previous months and I was concerned about her fears increasing.  She didn't want to lose *me*.  I understood.  As much as I was Hannah, Hannah was, and is, a different person in many ways.  The evolution of my gender identity was impacting me obviously but again... butterfly wings.

Our gender identity is one of constant self-discovery.  Sometimes the revelations come quickly, sometimes the changes are baby steps.  It isn't uncommon for someone's gender identity to change during the course of a relationship.  When I came out to my wife while we were dating, this was limited to lingerie.  But fast forward a few years...

If my wife's feelings and thoughts and perspective changed as my gender identity changed, well, that would be fair.  I WAS changing.  The person she married had changed.  She married someone who liked to wear panties.  But now this someone has different pronouns depending on how they were dressed.  My wife still had a husband... most of the time.

My gender identity, in all its forms, caused a lot of stress and tension for a while.  We both learned how to live with this side of me.  I didn't always make the right decisions... the Pink Fog and all that.

But if it had been too much for her?  If this wasn't what she had expected in her marriage?  Well, I couldn't have found fault with her feeling that.  

People change in different ways as they go through their lives.  Often those changes happen in a committed relationship.  Sometimes those changes involve gender or sexual identity.  It... it happens.

I have friends who have transitioned.  Sometimes their marriages last, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes my friends get angry at their wives because their transitioning ended their marriage.  "She knew about this side of me before we got married!" they tell me.    Yes, but they likely were told that *this* was all about clothes.  Taking estrogen is an entirely different thing.  YOU changed, and she reacted.  

Sometimes the couple stays together, and again, they learn to adapt.  But the butterfly breeze can potentially be a wind of change for a wife's sexual identity.  (And yes, I know if both people in a marriage are women they are both wives, but I think you're following me.)  Once the dust has settled, what are their sexual identities?  Yes, both women are married to each other, but are they both lesbians?  Does who you are in a relationship with define your sexual identity,?  Does this change the orientation one always identified as?  For most of one's life they identified as straight.  They dated men, they had heterosexual relationships, they married a man.  But now the man they married is now their wife.  Sooo.... now what?  This is how one's gender's identity can impact someone else, in this case, someone's sexual identity. 

We must be true to ourselves and we must also be considerate of how our gender identity can impact someone else.  We need to live our lives for ourselves, but goodness we need to be gentle and kind to others when we start a new part of our journey.

Love, Hannah


  • TeriLeigh

    I am majorly conflicted. My wife( to be transparent is 73 and an old-fashioned black church girl. Southern Baptist as a girl now she’s a Black Hebrew Isrealite.) of 33 years has enforced celibacy upon me for 30 of those years and has kicked me out of the temporpedic bed that bought years ago. Now I’m sleeping on a God awful air mattress in the living room. She had the established career. So I was a stay at home dad for our daughter. She does deserve consideration upon my transition but does my wife.

  • Carolyn

    I have known that I am trans since I was about six years old. It can sometimes become a heavy burden to accept this, but you just have to come out the other side.

  • Giulia

    Thank you for this wonderful article. There is so much feeling in emotion in this series you are writing. I understand what you are saying about word definitions, strains on relationships, and personal evolution. I wish we didn’t have so much societal and person pressures on our lives. I envy your strength and wish it didn’t have to be a feeling of dual lives at time. I just want to be me.

  • Doris

    Thank you for (in a way) answering my question on your previous article about your marriage & how your wife handled it. As for myself, I’ve been w/my wife for 22 yrs. & I told her about “all” of the things that I was into as @ 38 years old I felt I did not want to waist time starting a relation if she was turned off to it. My 1st wife couldn’t handle it so amounst other things it ended in a divorce. Now @ this stage of our marriage she knows but just doesn’t talk much about it & accepts it. Funny thing as 1 day she did ask me when I die what was my favorite dress did I want to be buried in, it kind of took me back as I never thought about it, (that would be a shocker to friends & family. LOL again thankyou for a great article, Love Doris (Marc).

  • Lara Klopp

    As I learn and grow in becoming an ally and an advocate, thank you for your various writings that help me grow in understanding. Hopefully things are changing and becoming more generally accepted. I interviewed one student for my podcast, Bells, who said that some days they feel like “he” and some days they feel like “she” so they couldn’t pick a preferred pronoun. I saw in Bells bravery, but also change, that they were so open about discussing their gender fluidity, which was not the case when I was in high school.
    Again, thank you for helping me on my journey to understanding.

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