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"Letters From the Editor"

This is a reprint of a letter I sent in reply to a cross-dresser who requested some thoughts on how to deal with a non-understanding wife and family. I felt the content may be of enough value to publish for others, however, I have deleted the name in order to insure privacy.

Dear (Anonymous)

This is going to sound a bit technical, which will probably be the last kind of thing you would expect in response to a very emotional problem. The difficulty with emotional problems is that you can't measure them with emotions. You can't measure something by itself. Here is the problem in terms of Reason. The problem is not your wife and the problem is not yourself. The problem is BETWEEN your wife and yourself. Now, this problem is not caused by the way she is or the way you are, but by the difference between the two of you. If she was married to someone who did not want to cross dress, no problem. If you were married to a woman who understood, no problem. This problem only exists because you cannot stop crossdressing and she cannot understand.

In order for the problem to be resolved, one of you must change. Sometimes people can change or grow, and sometimes they truly cannot. It is not blameful to be unable to change, it simply means that the area you cannot change about is too close to the heart of your personality, and as long as you remain YOU, changing is impossible. So what can be done? Well, you are probably convinced by this time that YOU cannot stop crossdressing. So for you to change is probably not an option. But your wife has only had a little time to adjust, so it is not certain if she will be able to change or not at this early stage. When time has passed you will know better about the answer to that.

But what if she cannot change? What is the solution? There are three ways to deal with every "unsolvable" problem. Since the problem remains, none of them is completely enjoyable, but there are no other options if neither party can change. The first way is for the two people to separate. Then, they are not in conflict because they do not interact. The second way is to avoid conflict by staying off the subject. Conflict does not occur because the subject that creates the problem is not brought up. The final way to deal with the unsolvable problem, is to continue fighting over it. Eventually, this may lead to the other solutions of separation, avoidance, or even in some cases, change by one of the people, thereby eliminating the problem.

I wish I could offer a "quick fix" for your problem, but there really isn't any. Yet there is hope. People do change in time, and even if YOU cannot change because the desire to cross dress is part of you, you wife may very well change because her attitude is probably not part of her, but more of a held opinion, and opinions change every day. The real key is the strength of the love you share, compared to the discomfort, the pain of change, the love she has for her parents, and many other factors. Also considering that love is seldom equally felt between two partners.

So, my best advice is to avoid conflict while you see if she grows to change. You will know when enough time has passed to judge that. Then, you can decide if there is hope to resolve the problem or if one of the other options is the best under the circumstances. Take care, keep hope, don't let one area of conflict taint the rest of your life. There are many other pleasant areas to focus on while you wait to resolve this one.

Melanie

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(The following letter was written to an AOL friend about my progress in coming to terms with secrecy about my past versus honesty about my past.)

Hi there! So how was your week? I had a great one. Work went well, and also when I asked my friend who I am working for how long I could be sure I had a job once the project we are developing is over, he said that as far as he was concerned, I would get paid the same amount forever, even though there only may be enough work for me to come in a day or two a week. What a friend! So, our house is secure, and the future of my family looks good. What a relief. If it was just me, I wouldn't worry at all. I can live in a box and be happy, but I know Mary and the kids couldn't.

Also, I called up the local amateur theatre and volunteered my services to usher and help paint sets and stuff, and they are really interested. So, I will probably be starting maybe as soon as tonight! It'll be great to meet a whole new group of friends that don't know about my past. That has been another good part of the week: I finally came to terms with the issue of hiding my past or not. I was mistaken in thinking that there was a great difference in the way people acted toward me when they knew or didn't know. The real problem was that I acted differently if I knew they knew. As soon as someone found out, I would haul out the old Dave picture and tell them all about transition and make it an ongoing part of the conversation. I suddenly realized that it was I who was making them treat me as a transsexual instead of a woman.

Most TS fall into 2 categories, those who don't tell and live in fear of discovery, and those who DO tell and are always thought of as TS because they did like I did, keeping that image alive to be completely honest. But IS that honest, to keep a former truth alive? A truth that is only one of fact, not of feeling? For me, admitting to the fact is essential for honesty, but continuing to dwell on it is not. Making it a part of my life from the moment of discovery is dishonest to my feelings. So, my decision is not to tell, but if discovered to admit to it, but not proactively keep the subject open. I will answer any questions simply and without creating other questions. When they have asked all they want to, I will let the matter drop and never bring it up again.

It is such a simple solution it is elegant, and also its simplicity is why I never saw it before. The problem is not outside, it is inside - the solution is not in lying, but in not perpetuating. Now, I can cover my tracks as best I can in name changes and evidence and conversation, but I need not fear discovery at all. When it happens, I will admit and then let it drop. The only "me" they will see is the "me" I am now. How can they think of me as anything other than a woman if the single exposure to the fact of my past is outweighed by the continuing exposure to me as a woman? Well, I'm happier than I have ever been about the whole transitional thing now. This decision allows me to partake of support groups, write articles and books, even incorporate the knowledge of my past into my career, but then to relate in the world of my "civilian" friends as just one of the girls.

Melanie

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