Trans-ing A Relationship—Where Does Love Go from Here?

Relationships in gender transition face heart-rending challenges.


When I began transitioning, I had to face the very real possibility that Pam and I would separate and divorce. Was transitioning something I had to do even if it might end our life-giving relationship?

To Transition or Not/To Stay Together or Not

Soon, I realized that everything was changing. Telling Pam what I was learning about myself (how could I not tell her?) changed our bond, whether or not I transitioned. If we split, we would live with the relationship that once was but now wasn't. If we stayed together, who would we be to ourselves and to each other?

Pam and I didn't face the possibility of a change to our way of life. It was changing, regardless of what we did.

We stood in a four-way intersection:

  1. Don't transition and stay together.

  2. Transition and stay together.

  3. Transition and split.

  4. Don't transition but still split.

This wasn't my transition. It was another in a lifetime of transitions for me and Pam.

Who We Are Shapes How We Are

Along the way, we found that who we are shapes how we are.

  • Who we are was responsible for Pam and I meeting, falling in love, marrying, raising three children, empty-nesting.

  • Who we are was determining both transition and the persons we would be in the future.

Pam and I didn't face the possibility of a change to our way of life. It was changing, regardless of what we did.

Through transition, she and I gripped the saddlehorn and held on, never knowing when or if our love would be thrown.

Surprise, Surprise!

I was stunned—yet enraptured—to discover my trans self at the tender age of 54. Pam was just stunned. She'd understandably expected a certain relationship trajectory into old age, only to have it blasted away, leaving a crater beyond her worst fears. There's no turning back from here.


She grieved the loss of those expectations as fiercely and forthrightly as she does anything. Through transition, she and I gripped the saddlehorn and held on, never knowing when or if our love would be thrown.


Living Into Us

TL;DR—I and Pam had to live into my transition.


Then again, we've always lived into our relationship—becoming friends, dating, four years of engagement, marriage, parenting, career changes, moves, empty nesting—amidst the minute-by-minute joys and betrayals (and every shade in-between) that mark a long-term bond.

We don't shape our relationship. We live it.

Truth

Truth to tell, we're still living into this relationship.

Pam Beeler and Bethany Beeler in St. Patrick's Day themed sugar-skull shirts.
Pam and I, lucky to still sugar-skull life together

Deeper truth—we always would have been living into it whether I'd ever realized my trans self, or whether we split or stayed together.


The deepest truth is telling itself right now. We don't shape our relationship. We live it.


So do all trans persons and their loved ones, whether they stay together or not. I can't know anything about the pain and joy of your journey. I know only mine. Regardless of what happens, you are living into you.


Be merciful to yourself and to those you love, for all of us are in transition.



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