I have been fighting with this very topic for almost 15 years now. Fortunately or unfortunately I have been married to a woman for 13 years. Through my life I have felt a persistent feeling of not matching up. As a social leader of my peers and athletically fit, ideal average person it seemed like an odd back of the mind feeling. In my teen years it became increasingly yet silently painful to be seen as a confident and strong male and increasingly rejected by female friends for it. Why would a male friend be simply a male friend and why would “he” want to be included as a girl. The model of male/female romantic interest was constantly forced upon me, and to a degree I didn’t see an alternative.
Physically, I did not appreciate being male specifically ever. It didn’t become a more distinguishable thing until I became more acutely aware of the female form. This led to an increasing awareness that my given body was not in harmony with my mental position.
Through college I continued the internal dichotomy, the disparate nature varying at times. Pretty much whenever the female expression came out it would be met with a form of punishment or ostracism. Should be stated that I came from a religious background and my parents were missionaries. At no point was my family unpleasant or unloving in anyway. To this day they are still uninformed, other than my sister being slightly aware.
In trade school, the first non-religiously linked era of my life, things became a bit more expressed. No family, no linked friends, new town. It was a dark period in school for a 20 year old. As a non-vulgar quiet person I became the brunt of many bully incidents for the 2 year span. By accident it became apparent that these bullies were staunchly homophobic, yet my only friend was not. Neither of us were attracted to eachother, but we found the bullies were afraid of us when we presented as a gay couple. Simple solution to wear pink and femm-ish stuff. Liberating in a certain way in fact. By this point I had already been wearing almost a completely female specific wardrobe, though not apparently to most. Not bra’s and such, but high waist jeans, stretchy fit tops, etc. Comfortable. Still do. In private I would wear bra’s and breast forms. Eventually wigs.
In the career era the outward expression would increase. As a cyclist and avid mountain bike racer the wardrobe is very form fitting and exposing in it’s own way. That led me to a certain level of shapeware and padding to produce a distinctly female form. Wig optional, but added passability since short hair was forced upon me from various angles.
When I would go online, it was always in fully female form. I had been doing that since high school on various gaming platforms and chat programs. Present as a male in the same contexts and you are just boring and average. Say the same things as a girl and suddenly you are the hot chick that everyone wants on thier squad. Double standards of society. Even before realizing that, being a male on line did not feel right. It felt like an act of impersonating a male. Online was where I met my wife. Due to not realizing the extent of my condition, I signed up to that site as a male and did not disclose the rest of the backstory.
For the year that we were dated/engaged I did feel male. Whether it was for distraction or infatuation or not I am not sure. Eventually the reality of my internalized position began to come back out. The thoughts became more intense. I began expressing again, when alone. The wardrobe differences were always a point of conversation. She accepted most of it, but we often argued over the lingere vs menswear topic. A few times when I was out and about en fem I would take selfies to test how well I passed. Sometimes quite well, but passing socially was not really the aim. Most of the time I would just go to a large state park and spend the day in nature, mountain biking and not interacting with anyone in particular.
Then the selfies became discovered. The level of reaction on her part was on par with discovering an affair. She would say in casual conversation that gay/lesbian/trans people were wierd but entitled to their own lives. However when it was me it was unacceptable and that she was not going to stand for it. I would assure her that I was still the same person and still in love with her as the same person. It would always go to the same conclusion. “I AM NOT GAY” or, “are you attracted to guys now?” One of her goals in life was to be a foster/adopt parent. Specifically said she did not want to have natural children. Sounds like a perfect situation, right? We have rarely been a physically intimate couple to say the least. We cuddle, spend time together, all that stuff but actual sex has never felt natural to me. For that I do regret.
In the covid era, I have had the social pressure releived a little bit as far as letting my hair out. Now it is a little past shoulder length and I don’t have to wig. Probably couldn’t wig easily anyway. It was a little bit of a push to get the hair normalized but it is now. Hun still doesn’t like it, but lets it. I wear hip pads and shapewear frequently, which helps with weight loss too. As of the last few months I have been wearing bras most of the time. In the right outfits the appearance is minimal, but feels right. No direct remarks from anyone outside the household. However most of my social/work peers have directly said in response to news topics that trans issues are made up and not valid. For pressure sake I let it go with a simple “People can choose what they choose”.
More recently I have been gravitating to the non-binary spectrum. To feel female inside and undercover in a male context feels increasingly wrong and self oppresive. However the inverse of it does not. With a simple(I know it’s not so simple) change of being physically female but small breasted and maintaining a male/nonbinary perception in the social side of life would be tolerable. Perhaps that is a compromise in ways, but it seems liveable. That would allow the ability to be body aligned without the massive upheaval of life. The idea of being a non-binary clicks in a way that is positive and affirming.
However, all roads other than fully cis male do not work for hun in marriage. It is unfortunate, but not surprising. I bear her no ill-will for her stance. As of a couple months ago, I discovered her having an affair with a guy. As odd as it sounds, I was relieved. For a while I did not let on how much I knew of it. Then she issued an ultimatum of ‘this all has to stop or we are divorcing’. I said no. Go ahead. The more we stood our ground on our stances the more at peace I am with it. She gets what she wants and I get what I need. If the divorce sticks to it’s agreed upon terms it will be simple and allow me to save for the future plans. It hurts from my religious and family background to be ok with a divorce, but it is possibly the fourth or fifth time we have been on the fence already. At first it felt like a sense of abandonment, but the “other” guy(I say other because…well 😉 ) is an intensely romantic type and seems to be covering that part well. As twisted as it sounds, I am happy for them.