DEAR ABBY: A couple of years ago, my husband informed me that he likes to dress in women’s clothing. Since then he has read books, is seeing a counselor, and the reality is, he is transgender. He now wears his hair long and has long fingernails.
I have tried to be understanding and have gone places with him when he is dressed as a woman. He has met other transgender people who have either made the full transition or are content without it. I allow my husband time with these new friends without me. I did feel weird that he was clothes shopping and going to movies with his new friends.
I have reconciled with these activities, and I’m OK with them so far. But I have told him that if he decides to change his gender to female, I will not be able to be married to him. He’s on hormones at the moment and has told me he plans to start testosterone blockers.
I love him, Abby, but not the woman side of him. Am I unreasonable to put a boundary on my marriage? He thinks if he slowly eases me into the idea that it will be OK. He says I am his “world” and I should love him no matter what gender he is. Am I being selfish? — SOMEWHERE IN THE NORTHWEST
DEAR SOMEWHERE: You appear to be a loving and accepting wife. You may be your husband’s world, but his world is changing — and along with it, so is yours. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. You did not enter your marriage to be partnered with another woman, and you should not be made to feel guilty remaining with one if it’s not what you want. Some spouses stay together; others just can’t.
If you haven’t heard of the Straight Spouse Network, it is a confidential support network of current or former heterosexual spouses or partners of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender mates. It was founded in 1991, and its mission is to help straight spouses or partners cope with coming-out issues, and help mixed-orientation couples and their children build bridges of understanding. To learn more about it and find a support group near you, visit straightspouse.org
DEAR ABBY: I have always had an extremely close relationship with my little sister. Last year, I graduated from high school and left for university. It was hard for both of us. My college is an hour away from where my family lives, so even though I live on campus, I try to come home whenever I can to visit on weekends.
Lately it seems like my little sister has emotionally distanced herself from me. She doesn’t confide in me anymore, shows little interest in my life, and it has gotten to the point where she barely acknowledges me in public. I have tried talking to her about it and telling her how much it hurts me, but she tells me I’m overreacting and to stop being stupid.
My mom says she does this with everyone and that this is typical for a 14-year-old teenager, but it breaks my heart to be so excluded from her life. Is this just a phase I have to learn to deal with and accept? What should I do? — SAD BIG SISTER IN SWITZERLAND
DEAR BIG SISTER: Your sister is growing up, and part of that process means becoming an individual. Right now she is trying to figure out who she is, apart from the family she loves — including you. I’m sure she isn’t intentionally trying to hurt your feelings. Because you were so close, she may have felt abandoned when you left for college. Your mother is right about this. Let your sister evolve. She’ll be back. Accept it for now.