To Tell Or Not To Tell, That Is The Question

Picture the scene.  You are sitting together after tea.  The kids are in bed. Nothing worth watching on TV. Your wife is texting or Googling.  You take a deep breath and you speak.

“How would you feel if I said I wanted to dress as a woman?”

Silence.  Wait for the explosion. Wait for a sharp object to be thrown at you.  Wait for a reaction – anything!  Nothing.  You can’t take it back – you’ve said it now.  “Oh my God! What have I done?”

All of the above is played out hundreds – or thousands – of times throughout the country every day.  What comes next is the great unknown. If you are really lucky, your partner will say:

“I know dear, I have wondered if you were that way inclined!”

Or “Oh yes dear, I would rather like the sound of that!”

Or “Of course dear, if it makes you happy!”

Or “I rather like the idea of you dressed as a woman – it turns me on!”

Or “I will help you buy makeup, clothes, shoes etc.”

In your head you hope it will be one of these alternatives.  Meanwhile back on planet earth, this is highly unlikely!  There will be shock, silence, tears, arguments, questions, insults, broken ornaments, storming out of the room, sleeping on the couch, threats of divorce, etc, etc. Unless your partner did have an idea about your deepest desires already, the first emotion is always shock – or if you are lucky, just surprise. Surprise is good – it offers the glimmer of hope that all is not lost. It means she is weighing up what you have said and is not totally averse to it. Shock is much worse. Her brain is struggling to compute.  Too many ideas and images race around her mind. This is going to be a long night!

Ok, dear reader, just take it back one step.  If you hadn’t told her, your life would have carried on as it was, mundane chores would be done, you would have gone to work as usual.  Your relationship, however good or bad would just plod on.  But you had to ask, didn’t you! A burden you have carried for many years would have eaten away at you.  Perhaps since childhood, adolescence, early marriage, middle age or even old age. It can strike at any time.  The realisation that you want to act, dress, live – or even become a woman.

So, to tell or not to tell – that is the question.

In an ideal world – which it isn’t! – you might as a teenager realise what you are, want to be, need to be and then act accordingly.  This would be to stay single, sort your head and life out and then meet a partner and be completely honest about yourself.  But you don’t. you think it is a phase, a fad, a passing whim which marriage will rectify. It doesn’t. It might get side-tracked by work, children or other responsibilities but it will come back.  It never leaves you completely. And when it does come back, you have to make a choice.  Do I tell her or not?  Some people dress in secret – fine if you have no conscience or are a good actor or liar.  But one day you will give yourself away or make a mistake.

This dear reader, is the worst scenario.  Not only have you deceived, lied and misled your partner, but you are something much worse – you have been dishonest.  She will be far more annoyed about this that all the other crimes.  Frankly, you are dead meat.  She has the moral high ground and you are doomed.  You are on your own, mate – figuratively and probably – actually!

So, to take a step back again and telling her is the second worst option. At least you have been fairly honest.

“Why didn’t you tell me before we married?”

“Why tell me now?”

“Didn’t you feel you COULD tell me?”

“Didn’t you trust me?”

“What do you want me to say to you?”

These are some of the hundreds of questions you will be asked. Can you handle this? So, this is why many trans- people do NOT tell their partner.  Too much risk.  An unknown quantity. Fear of rejection, loss of family, income or even home.  Too damn risky!

This is the point where I say you should know your audience. How did you think your partner would react? Has she voice support for gay, lesbian, trans issues before?  Does she know any of the above groups and how does she feel about people who don’t conform? You really should know your partner better – so try asking – in a casual manner how they feel in general about these groups in society.  Invent a fictitious person who you met and judge her reaction. Then act accordingly.  Its up to you.

There is no answer to this.  I wish I could have taken my own advice.  I didn’t.  I got married then told her. Big mistake. I thought honesty was the best policy.  Luckily – very luckily! – for me, I didn’t get divorced, thrown out, etc. Being a transgender woman was tolerated – just about!  It was never liked or accepted or even understood – just tolerated.  It was another stick to beat me within arguments.  Another tool at her disposal to manipulate me – never maliciously – but always there.

As the years passed, she softened in her attitude – even helped me pick clothes and shoes etc but never wanted to see me dressed as Angie.


Then, shortly before she died, she said it was ok for me to show her how I looked! Strange. No anger, no recrimination, no bitterness. Finally, at the end, she accepted me as Angie. A miracle. I still feel I have been luckier than most trans people. Sad, isn’t it. But attitudes ARE changing. People of all genders, persuasions, preferences and lifestyles are now freer than ever before. To which I say THANK GOD! If there IS a god, let us hope it’s a she and not a he!


If you would like to find a trans support group in your area, check out Trans Unite website here.