The transsexual husband: the wife's experience
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact upon a woman when her husband considers himself to be transsexual. Specific areas examined included the woman's reaction to her husband's desire for sex reassignment, her coping mechanisms, and her use of support systems. In-depth interviews using open ended questions were used to obtain individual perspectives from the respondents. Each interview was transcribed verbatim, and coded by the researched and two other professionals for content themes. The final form of the data was organized according to the research questions using quotations from the individual interviews to illustrate identified themes. Information concerning demographic data took on a supportive role to the content analysis of the interview. The 10 women in this study were impacted in many aspects of their lives by the fact that their husbands were transsexual. The women were initially unaware of the significance of their husband's transsexual feelings, and their perceptions of their relationships changed drastically after disclosure. These women appeared to consider their partner to be in charge of the relationship and experienced themselves as fairly powerless in the situation. Strong emotional and physical reactions were present in these women, including: feelings of abandonment and rejection; shock, horror, and disbelief; anger and feelings of betrayal; depression and anxiety; feelings of helplessness and confusion; self blame; loss of self confidence and self esteem; weight changes; sleep difficulties; and stomach and digestive difficulties. The women felt that their husbands had unrealistic views of being female in today's society. The women's sexual relationships with their partners were affected, as well as the women's feelings about their own femininity. Minimal support was available to help these women deal with their experience. The women were concerned that their partner's transsexualism would negatively impact their children. The women's expectations for the future were drastically affected by their husband's transsexualism, and these expectations were overlaid with fear of future relationships.