October 6, 2012
Editors Note: Since the time of the founding of North Star, we have hosted the Transgender, Intersex, and Gender Identity (TIGI) online support group for men and women who experience feelings of gender incongruence. While North Star has predominantly addressed individuals and families dealing with same-gender attraction, we’ve desired that individuals and families dealing with this unique issue would feel they are an integral part of the North Star community and there is a section of our website dedicated exclusively to this demographic. We are now, for the first time, adding the TIGI Spouses online support group specifically for the spouses of those who experience gender incongruence and have invited Kathryn, who has agreed to serve as moderator of this group, to provide a bit of a personal introduction.
My husband and I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. During these years of marriage, we have been blessed with and are currently raising four children, whom we adore. My husband and I have a close relationship; one in which we are very open and honest with each other. I am so grateful to be married to such a wonderful individual!
For approximately 8 years, I have known of his gender dysphoria. Upon learning about this, I questioned why we were given this particular challenge in life. I didn’t “sign up” for this, I thought. I never imagined this would ever be an issue in our marriage. After all, we are both lifelong, active members of the LDS church, with strong testimonies of the gospel. Both of our families are very active in the church as well. My husband served a full-time mission for the Church and has served in various callings, including Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Assistant Scoutmaster, Ward Mission Leader, and in two bishoprics. Throughout our marriage, both my husband and I have experienced a significant amount of learning and growth. There have been times when we have both struggled with anxiety and/or depression. Many compassionate counselors have helped us along our journey.
Over the past 8 years, I have kept his gender dysphoria in confidence—never feeling safe to disclose it to anyone. I am one who needs to talk about my feelings, so this has been an extremely difficult burden on me. I have felt VERY alone, until recently when my husband felt it was the right time to disclose his GID to two of his sisters. They are the only family members, other than myself, that are aware of his current feelings. Thankfully, Heavenly Father blessed him with loving, understanding, compassionate sisters, who accept him for who he is. This was a tremendous relief to him. One of his worst fears is his being rejected by those he loves. I know Heavenly Father knew the support, particularly from family members, my husband and I have longed for over the past 8 years.
My heart aches as I watch my husband struggle with those who do not truly understand him. It hardly seems fair the stereotypes society places on men. I deeply love and accept my husband for who he is. After all, this is a part of him—and much of the reason I married him, although I didn’t know anything about his gender dysphoria at the time of our marriage.
I have been searching for an LDS support system that would view gender dysphoria and similar issues with a gospel centered perspective. I feel so blessed to have found North Star. Since a support group for spouses of those with gender dysphoria was not available, I felt inspired to inquire about such a group. I am extremely grateful to those who worked to make this possible. I know there are others that have similar struggles as my own, and want them to know they are not alone. I truly want to understand my husband and support him. I also need the strength of others to continue on this journey. I hope to provide compassion and support to others as well. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your journey.