Woman tells story of husband's transition to become a womanon May 11, 2012 @ 10:01 am (Updated: 11:45 am - 5/11/12 )
Tom Gabel, lead singer of the band Against Me!, told Rolling Stone he lives with a condition called gender dysphoria, and plans to become a woman. (AP Photo)
What would you do if your spouse told you that they wanted to change genders?
The topic came up on 97.3 KIRO FM's Ross and Burbank Show after the front man of punk band Against Me! told Rolling Stone he planned to become a woman.
Tom Gabel told the mag he had privately lived with a condition called gender dysphoria, which is a gender identity disorder where a person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, and finds it uncomfortable to live as a person of that gender. Gabel said he planned to undergo a transition from male to female while staying married to his wife.
"We were trying to figure out how it could be that somebody would be able to make the decision to stay with their spouse when their spouse completely changed genders," explained host Luke Burbank.
A listener, hearing the discussion, thought she could shed some light on the subject and offered to share the experience she had when her husband came to her with a similar revelation.
"I was trying to understand what he was saying," said Lisa, of Woodinville. "I understood he wasn't who I thought he was, and he didn't feel like who he presented himself to be."
Lisa said her husband, who now identifies as a woman, came to her about 10 years into their marriage with the first indication that he was questioning his gender identity.
"We had been married about 10 years at that time and had a couple of kids. We had a family and we loved each other and wanted to stay together. It just basically was something we didn't talk about or deal with because we wanted to hold our family together."
While they didn't act on it at that time, Lisa said it became clear that her husband was not going to be able to continue living as a man.
"It became increasingly apparent that if he didn't deal with this, it was not going to be good."
They discussed his undergoing hormone therapy. "I was supportive of that. I didn't want to tell him what he could or couldn't do."
Her husband eventually underwent a surgical procedure completing a transition from male to female, and while they are no longer together, she said in her opinion, it was absolutely the right choice for her spouse.
Lisa said her former spouse is "very much more at peace and feels right now."
The couple's son and daughter are also accepting of the transition.
"We were very thoughtful about explaining what it means to be transgender," said Lisa, of the conversations they had with their children.
While Lisa acknowledged she's sad at the loss of their marriage and family unit, she said she's thankful for the peace her former spouse has found.
"If you love somebody, you don't want them to be in pain. You don't want them to go through their life struggling with something that is that emotionally painful."
She said she learned that people don't have a choice in the matter.
"Who in their right mind would choose to change their gender with the huge impact that it has on their life, with their family, their relationships with friends, their jobs?" asked Lisa.
"People don't make a choice. People don't make the choice to be gay, or they don't make this choice to be transgender," said Lisa. "It's the way people are, and other people need to understand that to be accepting."
By JAMIE GRISWOLD, MyNorthwest.com Editor
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