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"My Wife"

I married my childhood sweetheart in 1988. He was an amazing man. He loved me, stood by me, and believed in me. We had children and even though we had bad times, it only made the good times that much sweeter. In 2011, the love of my life realized “he” was actually a “she”. The road she embarked on to transition would take 8 years of introspection and bravery. On June 21, 2019, she completed her transition and now lives full time as a woman. My “husband” is now my “wife”.

That paragraph cannot even begin to explain what that meant, or the struggles those 8 years contained but that one word replacement, going from “husband” to “wife” has proven to be quite significant.

When my wife first began her transition, I stopped using “husband” and started using “spouse”. I always felt like it was a cop-out. It gave into people’s preconceived ideas on marriage as being between a man and a woman. It was technically true, but I knew what people would assume – that I was married to a man – would not be the truth.

After she completed her transition, I couldn’t hide behind semantics. We have now been married for 31 years. I am now married to a woman, so she is my “wife”. It’s been a year and every time I say, “my wife”, I feel like I’m making a political statement. It feels weird that in those two words, I’m revealing my sexual orientation. I always used “my husband” and never thought about the political implications. After 31 years, I’m proud of our marriage. I’m proud of the journey we’ve been on, the struggles we faced, and the love and support we give each other. I love knowing I’m not alone, I’m loved, I’m cared for.

Now, I find I pause – for just a second – before I say, “my wife”. I won’t stop saying it but I’m looking forward to the day that it becomes a fact not a political stand. I don’t want to pause. I don’t want to pause as I reach for her hand, pause as I go in for a kiss, pause as I say, “my wife”. It’s been a year but it’s still a process. We recently bought a car from a dealership we’d used before. We had to change the name on the account to reflect my wife’s new gender. It actually was very anticlimactic. They barely batted an eye. But still, it was weird.

We live in a changing world. Now we can define our own gender identity. In Washington State, at least, we can change our names, birth certificates, driver’s licenses to reflect our own view of our gender identity. It’s still challenging because for each agency, each business, you have to out yourself.

I dream of the day when gender Identity isn’t a big deal. People are able to just live as their true selves. I long for a day when I don’t pause. And even more so I don’t analyze the words, “my wife” and just say it. As naturally and unselfconsciously as the words, “my husband”. Until then, I go day by day, developing new habits, and reactions. I’m proud of my wife. I love my wife. And that’s enough.

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