I was in a long-term relationship and after nearly 5 years together my boyfriend came out as transgender to me. I will refer to them as “she” and “them” from now on because I believe those are the pronouns they would use.

I still distinctly remember the day she came out to me. I remember what I was doing, I remember feeling nervous to talk to them.

She had been acting differently so when she texted if I could go over, I knew that she was either going to break up with me or tell me that she wants to be a woman.

We had had a conversation about this a few months back; it was something along the lines of “why are you pretending to be a woman online?” They reassured me it was nothing and they would stop. I think I knew deep down it was something, I just wanted it to be nothing, so I happily accepted what they told me.

The day my boyfriend came out as transgender

It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt as they told me. I remember thinking “okay, so I was right, it was something.” Strangely, I felt calm at first.

But after those initial thoughts, their words started to set in and I dug my nails into the palms of my hands to keep me from crying.

I didn’t want to cry because I knew if I started, I would never stop.

  • I just said nothing, or at least I don’t remember saying anything. Then she started crying because she was worried about her family and what they would think. That’s when I cried a bit because I felt hurt seeing them hurt.
  • I knew I had to get out of there because I couldn’t contain my emotions any longer. I told them goodbye and once I got to my car, it all came pouring out. The sobs and moans and tears.
  • I felt so alone the first few days because I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. I also didn’t want to tell anyone. No one knew I was even upset or sad. But I couldn’t hold in how I was feeling because I felt like I was going to explode.

As the days went by I started to confide in a few friends and family.

Everyone was sympathetic but the general consensus was that they understood but they didn’t really understand. I mean how could they, none of their boyfriends or girlfriends had ever come out as transgender.

They understood the heartbreak and feeling of loss but they didn’t understand the shame, guilt, confusion, inadequacy, and disbelief that comes along when a significant other comes out as trans.

The next few months were extremely difficult for me

I had known my boyfriend for over 5 years, we did everything together, and the thought of being apart from them was unbearable.

  • I could not imagine my life without them. But I was also hurting. I was grieving the loss of a friend, a boyfriend, a person. I didn’t know a lot about transgendered individuals, just things I’d seen on media and entertainment.
  • So I wasn’t knowledgeable about what their transition meant or entailed. To me, it felt like the person I knew was no longer going to exist. It was a weird feeling of loss because the person is still there, they’re not dead, but you know that they are not going to look, sound, or act the same anymore.
  • It was waiting for them to be gone that was painful. This was also my first relationship so I was experiencing the emotions that come along with heartbreak on top of everything else.

We never officially broke up but I knew she no longer wanted to be involved with me romantically. I clearly remember her telling me “As a woman when I think about my future, I see it with a man.”

Again, I dug my nails in my palms and said and did nothing

I tried not to show how much those words stung. I don’t even think they realized they had hurt my feelings. In the following months, I tried to be there for them as a friend.

  • I didn’t want them to feel alone since they had only come out to a few people, but I will also admit that I selfishly stuck by their side because I loved them and couldn’t imagine being apart from them.
  • Yes, I was still hurting a lot by being with them because I knew our relationship had ended, but the moments we were together I could forget for a little bit and pretend things were “back to normal.” I was in denial.
  • A lot happened in those months that eventually led me to make a very hard decision. The good moments with her were overshadowed by the bad moments. We would hang out all day and I would feel like I was fine. I would feel like I could do this, I could accept them as trans, and I would be okay and we could continue to be in each other’s lives. Then I would go home and start crying because I felt so alone and lost.
  • I couldn’t believe that this was my life and the future I thought I had with my boyfriend was gone forever. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know the person I thought I knew so well. I kept trying to be there for them, even pretending we were still together for the sake of their family.
  • But it was so hard to do all of that while feeling empty and broken inside. Then I would talk to her and she would tell me about all the things she was looking forward to in the future. I would try to be supportive because I’m sure it is exciting (and terrifying too) going through that transition.
  • But I compared how she was feeling to how I was feeling and I just felt horrible. I had fallen into a depression. Those months I had stopped eating, I was anxious and nervous all the time, I cried every single day, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate, I had stomach and back pains; the days felt so blurry I don’t even remember some of them.

Needless to say, I was a mess.

I felt numb, yet sad at the same time

I just couldn’t do it anymore. I realized that I rather feel sad and alone without her than feel sad and alone with her.

I had relied on her for 5 years of my life and it was hard to detach from that comfort she provided. I truly could not imagine her not in my life but I knew I had to be on my own.

I told them how I felt and everything I had gone through and how I tried really hard to still be their friend because I loved them, but that it was just too difficult for me.

She had always been an amazing person so I felt an immense amount of guilt and sorrow telling them I could no longer be their friend, but I had to put myself first because I had been pushing my feelings off to the side for so long to try to be there for them.

I continued to cry every day for months after because it’s difficult losing a person you love and care for.

I felt so alone because no one understood the kind of grief I was going through. When you know no one who has experienced what you have, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s ever been in your position.

There were days when I thought I was never going to be happy again. It’s been over a year since I’ve spoken to her and I’ve had tough days wishing I could, but I’ve also had good days that give me hope I’ll be at peace one day. I know coming out and transitioning is extremely difficult. I’m not trans so I don’t know what the transition experience is like or what my ex went through. But I hope sharing my experience being the partner of someone who came out will help someone who may be feeling like I did.

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