My partner came out as transgender. If yours did too, this is for you.
It's Transgender Awareness Month, and some people will choose to come out to their partners throughout this 30 days. This means that a lot of individuals are walking around feeling stunned, confused, and scared. My wonderful trans husband Declan thought it would be a good time to share the intro to the book I wrote for helping with the onslaught of questions and emotion. Here it is.
The passage below is excerpted from Reaching for Hope: Strategies and support for the partners of transgender people.
Introduction to Reaching for Hope
If you’re reading these words, you might be in a state of turmoil. Your beloved may have just told you they’re transgender, or even handed you this book as a way to break the news.
First things first: breathe. You can get through this.
There’s no denying that transitioning can be traumatic for couples. Rocky relationships may not survive. Good relationships may grow stronger. If you or your partner are determined to leave, you probably won’t find this book helpful. But if you’re willing to hold off on that decision, you might find that the pages offer insights and tools to give you space to think.
My spouse is transgender, and I’ve been writing about trans issues for years, but I’m not a psychologist. I’ve just walked down the road you’re on and am willing to hold your hand through some of the issues you’ll face. In addition to my own experience, I scoured online support groups, asked questions of trans couples, and tried to immerse myself in the situations couples go through. All our paths are different, but yours will contain some of the same mile markers.
The book is written in the style of a daily devotional, with short entries on a single topic to help you process things you might be experiencing. Reading one entry a day can be a useful way to process information slowly at a time when things feel overwhelming.
A glossary of terms is included as a crash course in terminology and for later reference. There’s an index at the back so you can easily look up topics in the future. You can read it on your own or move through it with your partner if you’re in a headspace which permits that.
Now that you know what the book is, let’s talk about what it isn’t:
Comprehensive of everything you and your loved one will encounter.
This thing you hold isn’t perfect or all-encompassing. It’s simply an attempt to help. I could probably keep adding entries forever, as new issues are revealed through my relationship with my spouse and with other trans people.
The butterfly on the back cover is a blue morpho. I chose it because it’s such a lovely metaphor for transgender reality. Blue morphos aren’t actually blue, but microscopic scales on their wings refract light in a way that looks blue to the human eye. Our limited human senses proclaim data about the creatures based on what we see, but their reality is something else entirely. The undersides of blue morphos are a mottled brown, designed for camouflage while resting on the ground or in trees. They look ordinary from one vantage point but have an unworldly beauty from another. When they fly they appear and disappear against the sky, their true selves peeking out and disappearing again.
Transgender people and butterflies both transform, and transformational states are fragile. Rough handling can kill them. Loving a trans person is a special calling, and not everyone can do it.
“I’m not sure if I can handle this, but I’m going to try” is a valid position, and it’s good enough for where you are, in this moment.
May the words in these pages remind you that you aren’t alone. Keep reaching for hope.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall is the author of the Where True Love Is devotional series, the Living in Hope series of books supporting the loved ones of transgender people, The Language of Bodies (Woodhall Press, 2022), and the Rumplepimple adventures.