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Hello All,

 

I apologize if this is a bit of a read but I feel that this is a complicated situation. My husband and I have been together for about six years, and have been married for about a year and a half. He is 28 years old, disabled Air Force Veteran. I am a 27 year old straight female. My husband was sexually abused and repeatedly raped by one of his uncles from the age of 6 all the way up until 9 years old until his mother (his uncle's sister) finally found out and moved them several states away from the uncle and my husband "locked away" those memories. Years went by and my husband enlisted in the Air Force and attended the Air Force Academy up in CO. During his third year there, he was gang raped by senior officers and everything went downhill from there. Several other things happened during his time in the Air Force, but skipping ahead he blocked everything that happened out for a very, very long time. In fact, he blocked it out to the point where when questions would come up about points of time where these incidents occurred, he would make something up in place of what actually happened to the point where he truly believed the false event happened instead of the real one. It wasn't until I met him and he became very open and trusting in our relationship that the true memories began to reappear. Since last fall he started going to counseling weekly (and at times twice a week) and was put on medication to help with his depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

 

His father had died in Spring 2016 and around the anniversary of his father's death this year, he suddenly told me that he was interested in transitioning to a woman. This came completely, 100% out of the blue. He had never, ever spoke anything of this ever before in the years I had known him previously. I've met most of his family and friends that have known him for far longer than I have and they have never spoken of any instances where he has questioned his gender identity. He says he thinks he is ugly and he wants to be beautiful, and that he cannot stand to look at himself in the mirror or shower or bathe because he does not want to look at "that" ("that" being his penis).

 

We've talked about it a couple times since then. He's gone through two therapists since last fall. He switches therapists when he decides they start delving too much into his childhood trauma and do not support his idea of transitioning to a woman enough. He said he found a therapist here that does evaluations to begin the transition therapy and I asked him what he would do if they denied him the therapy due to a failed evaluation; he said he would pack up and move to Thailand where he could begin the process without having to go through the evaluation. He keeps acting like there's a deadline for him to do it, too. Every time we have to pay a big bill for something he gets all panicky and says the money could be going towards his transition, as if he expects everything needs to happen tomorrow or all at once. And I've noticed his urgency increases exponentially after he's had a flashback or a severe therapy session where he mentions offhandedly that they discussed his childhood. When he's in a good mood and hasn't had a flashback in a long time he doesn't speak of transitioning at all; as soon as he has a flashback or a bad therapy session the topic comes right back up.

 

I've asked him what he thinks will happen with our relationship if he transitions. He wants me to stay as his wife and I told him I couldn't do that and he burst into tears and said he wouldn't transition if it meant losing me. We have a healthy sex life and he constantly talks about our future together and buying a house, having kids, etc. He is not behave in a feminine way. He does not even behave in a metrosexual way. Everything he does, both in public and in private, is masculine. And due to our working/living circumstances we are literally together 24/7 so there isn't really the chance for us to hide anything from each other.

 

I personally feel that he is just trying to find a way to cope with his childhood trauma and for whatever reason he chose transitioning to a woman instead of going through the process of years and years of therapy. I do want him to be happy but I am concerned that if he transitions and realizes that none of his childhood trauma disappeared with the transition, what is he going to do then?

 

Thank you for reading this. I'm just at a loss as to what I should do or how I should approach the situation. I want to do what is healthiest for both him and myself, and while my hope is for our relationship to work out, I also do not want for either one of us to be unhappy. I am happy to support him in his search for recovery from his childhood trauma for as long as I can, even if that means transitioning, but I also want to make sure I am supporting him in the way he truly needs to be supported and when even his two previous licensed therapists disagreed that transitioning was the right course to take (at least at the moment)...it makes me question his motives as well.

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I tend to agree with you that his self hatred won't change because he becomes a woman . Now whether he truly believes he is a woman or if he thinks his self hatred will change are two different matters . As a person who was sexually abused and has PTSD I can understand his self hatred.

 

I will say though that ignoring his childhood won't make it go away and becoming a woman won't make it go away either .

 

I am sorry for all both of you have gone through .

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I believe you need to live as the opposite sex before doing gender reassignment surgery. Has he started wearing women's clothes and trying to grow out his hair? More specifically, is he living his life as a woman?

 

What will be his new name?

 

I'm no psychologist but I tend this is an escapist mechanism instead of truly being transgender. I mean a penis is what ruined parts of life so his penis probably feels like a weapon.

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My jaw literally dropped in response to what happened to your husband. It is so terrible and I feel much sorrow for what he's been through. It is a shame he never received justice for what these cruel people have done to him.

 

Being familiar with people in my life who are transitioning or are homosexual (so can distinguish the difference between just wanting to transition vs being attracted to the opposite gender but don't feel like they're born in the wrong body), I also believe your husband is masking his trauma. He does not know how to deal with the very thing that has made him suffer - a male penis. He wants it off because of fear and disgust, not because he wants to be a woman.

 

Usually those who want to transition take actions in trying to mimic the gender they desire before having surgery. For a woman, they dress up in women's clothing, wear makeup, act feminine, taking female hormones, or perform other actions that make them feel more feminine. He doesn't do any of that. The psychologists see this and would never approve of surgery because he doesn't truly want to be a woman. He needs to stick with at least one psychologist in order to properly deal with this trauma. Or, yes, it will not solve his issues.

 

Do you think he could possibly get the people who have harmed him to be prosecuted? That may help, but if not or it's too much for him, then I think continuous therapy is best. He needs to face his fears head on, not avoid them.

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I have many friends in the LGBTQ community, and many friends who have transitioned, who are in the process of transitioning, or who do not want to transition but who choose to dress and act as a woman or man. My husband does not do anything they do, hence why I also feel that he is masking his trauma. He does not dress in women's clothes, he does not have long hair, he has a full beard, he engages in masculine activities, and he does not have a new name picked out if he were to transition. He does not even try on any of my makeup or skincare products. He won't even use my body wash or shampoo or anything. He does not identify as female and has not asked me to refer to him as a woman, nor has he once said he feels like he was born as the wrong gender, just that recently he has been questioning his gender identity and like I said, these conversations tend to happen only after flashbacks or severe therapy sessions.

 

I agree with what someone above said that he views his penis as a weapon that is currently hurting his mind. It is a reminder of his trauma. I have a degree in Psychology and to be honest I think that is the one thing (along with my history of therapy myself) that is helping me stick out this situation and try to understand it from his point of view. I told him about having to live as the opposite sex for a year before he can transition, in addition to the evaluation, and he got horribly angry and said that is ridiculous and he should be allowed to become a woman anytime he wants even if he doesn't want to live as the opposite sex for a year. To me that does not show that he truly wishes to transition if he is not willing to live a year as the opposite sex while he still has a penis.

 

We live in a rural area so the VA Choice program is sticking him only with LSW and I don't know if they have the capabilities of dealing with these types of issues. I am trying to see if we can find a cognitive or behavioral psychologist who may be a better fit for him long-term that may be able to help delve into his childhood.

 

I do not know what ever happened with his uncle, but I doubt he was prosecuted. It was down in the south in a tiny town of about 300 people and nobody talks about what happens behind closed doors there. As for the Air Force, we all know what happens with sexual assault cases there, unfortunately. Thankfully the VA at least gave him part of his disability rating in relation to what occurred during his time in the Air Force so that has helped us some financially.

 

Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It has taken me a while to think about how to talk to people about this and put it into words but I am glad that I did because it has been weighing on my chest lately and I really do want to help him.

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However, to embark upon EMDR he has to be more stable than he is. It sounds like he's not interested in being a woman at all just getting rid of the penis . Running away from his past won't change anything unfortunately he hasn't realized it yet . I never realize that either until I had a complete breakdown in my 40s . Then it was do or die for me . I chose to face my past and come through it . It will never be completely gone but I am vastly vastly better than I was .

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Try EMDR it vastly helped me.

 

That was actually something he wanted to try after it was demonstrated in one of our cognitive psych classes that we took together. Unfortunately, there is no certified practitioner in our area (at least that I've found). I think at this point we are both willing to drive a hundred miles to get to the nearest big city to begin seeing a specialist in something.

 

We do live in a very healthy mind, healthy body-centered town, and I'm hoping maybe at some point I might stumble across somebody that practices EMDR and some of the other lesser known practices as I do think those may be the right path to take and my husband is more than willing to try them. He has also stated that in the past ayahuasca ceremonies (he has several friends who practice the tradition and have invited him to participate) have helped him cope but those are obviously few and far between to find here!

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