You’re Such a Man
Husband, January-March 2019
We sat in front of my open computer, knee to knee, in an Airbnb in Barcelona. My therapist, Shane, looked at us from the grainy video on the screen. I was on the verge of tears, and my husband’s and my hands rested together on his knee.
Two months before, when I texted Jason that I need testosterone to be me, I had asked him to process it and take his time to answer. I hadn’t expected a response for days. Weeks, even. After all, it had taken me 37 years to even figure out I’m not a woman, another year to admit to myself that I’m a guy, and another year after that to accept that I needed hormone therapy. That I needed to transition more than I’d ever needed anything.
I texted this life-changing bit of information because we lived on separate continents: I, in Baltimore, he, in East Africa. Tanzania had been our home together for 10 years. I had left only after realizing how awful the closet was for my mental health. He stayed, knowing how awful living in the US was for his mental health. But we stayed together, 19 years-of-marriage strong, and tried to make it work.
When I sent him that text, I was prepared for him to take his time. He responded within minutes. With his own life-changing text, Jason drew his line in the sand.
“T is still where I get off the bus.”
The speed of his response and the banality of the metaphor hurt me almost as much as the answer itself.
The next day, I thought about suicide. That full bottle of Tylenol would do it.
Jason and I hadn’t truly opened up to each other in the month before Barcelona. Sure, we talked via text and co-parented across continents for our son in boarding school, thousands of miles from both of us. But we hadn’t touched the hard stuff, the most life-altering knowledge that had overwhelmed me, and us, for the past couple years. The last email exchange before Barcelona was February 5, 2019, a year to the day after I admitted to myself that I am a guy. I had finally gathered the courage to speak my truth, to meet his line in the sand with my own: Yes, I will start testosterone, even if it means the end of our marriage. It was heart wrenching.