Jane and Barbara Hamlin are in their eighth year of marriage when a secret comes to light that changes their lives. In this post, they generously share their stories in hopes of empowering readers…
Barbara tells the story between herself and her lover:
The first time I met Jane, her name was John, and I was working at a school where John was a male teacher, and she was stylish and charming.
She (I’m using “her” now of course) was married at the time, but we got along very well, became good friends, and went to bars together a lot. She was wearing a decent suit, and I remember noticing that her nails were neatly trimmed. Looking back now, that was probably the only clue I saw.
I was 38 years old and had just separated from my husband of 18 years because he had a bad temper. By contrast, Jane is gentle and considerate, a complete opposite from my husband. Two years later, in 1987, Jane and her wife divorced, and we were officially together. She loves socializing as much as I do and is passionate about traveling the world. Eight months later, at 40, I married her. She already had two children from a previous marriage, a boy and a girl, and I felt that it was too late to have a child at this age, and teaching in middle school would satisfy me anyway.
【Yahoo Feature】Understanding Diversity and Transgender Create a Harmonious Society
Jane and I lived happily ever after until we entered our eighth year of marriage, in 1995, when one thing surprised me.
I was busy packing because the next day we were going on vacation to Canada and I was a little pissed that Jane was out playing cricket. It was at this time that I found a bag of women’s clothes in the back of her closet. Inside was a denim miniskirt, a pair of super-short jeans, some panties, and a lace bust, dig a little deeper, and a pair of black patent-leather loafers in size nine.
My first reaction at the time was that she cheated, so I was shocked that other women had sneaked over to my house. I looked at these clothes, I couldn’t believe it, I continued to pack, but my heart was very confused. When Jane got home from cricket, it was really hard for me to pretend nothing happened, but it wasn’t a good time to say it, after all we were going on a trip.
On the plane the next day, I kept looking at Jane and thought, “I don’t really know you. What secrets are you hiding?” When we got to Canada, we turned off the lights at night and lay together. In bed, I suddenly couldn’t help but ask, “I found a bag of women’s clothes, where did that come from?” Jane said embarrassedly, “That’s mine.” I was relieved to hear that the clothes belonged to her because I had been worried that she was cheating on me, which was much worse.
She went on to explain that she felt relaxed in women’s clothing, and that she had actually wanted to tell me over the years, but was worried about how I would react. She wasn’t disturbed by the fact that I found out, and I could hear from her voice that she was relieved.
We talked for hours in bed, and my reaction was beyond my own expectations: I was much more enlightened than I thought. This may be because I’ve read about Yifu before, and if it weren’t for that, and she suddenly told me all about it, my reaction might have been very different. I was actually more concerned about her cheating at the time, so I felt relieved instead.
I was 49 and Jane was 48, and I had already identified her and knew in my heart that we would spend the rest of our lives together. I took it for granted at the time that it was to protect her job, her family and her reputation by keeping this private between us, so no one else needed to know about it. At the time, I thought she was just wearing women’s clothes and never thought that she would want to do a full sex reassignment later.
We were on vacation at the time, so we were more of a different mindset and more open to trying new things, and I found myself wondering what it was like to have a husband who wanted to wear women’s clothing. We went shopping together in Vancouver, and the staff took it for granted that the beautiful gold top was for me, not hers. I surprisingly enjoyed shopping for clothes with my husband.
When I returned to the UK to continue my normal life, I suddenly felt compelled to tell two of my best friends about Jane. This has been on my mind since the holidays and I feel less pressure to be able to share our big secrets. My friends are all very nice and they promise to support me. One of them was happy to show her acceptance by inviting Jane to her house in women’s clothing.
I only saw Jane in women’s clothing for the first time two days after we returned to the UK. She still had a beard at the time, so she looked a little weird in a skirt. I wasn’t sure how I would feel, but surprisingly, even though she was wearing women’s clothes, I still liked her, maybe because she looked happy. and,She’s still John, the one I love. The secret brought us closer, and we started looking for opportunities for Jane to express herself outside the home. By then, she had shaved off her beard.
We made an appointment to go to an escort club in London and stay in a hotel. When we got into the taxi, we were worried about how the driver would react, but the driver was not surprised. Instead, he politely asked, “Good night ladies, where do you want to go?”, which made Jane very comfortable.
We sat on stools all night, watching the crowd and marveling at the fancy dress. In contrast, Jane’s dress is very formal. She finds it as eye-opening as I do, and she enjoys being unobtrusive in women’s clothing. Women’s clothing is gradually integrated into daily life. As long as John comes home from get off work, he will remove his identity as the principal of the rural primary school and put on his own women’s clothing. Surprisingly, we quickly got used to it.
I still like her so much, whether she wears men’s or women’s clothes. At first, she had a “miniskirt phase” at home, but thankfully it didn’t last long. As strange as it may sound, I started to re-examine my appearance after seeing John’s enthusiasm. I think Jane looks much better in women’s clothes than I do, her legs look better and her lower body is slimmer! It was around this time that I started calling her “Jane”.
I have to stress to myself that Jane never said anything that made me think she didn’t like the way I looked, to defuse the unease I felt. She doesn’t want to be with other people, she just wants to explore another side of herself.
The first few times I showed Jane how to make up, but like her I didn’t know what to wear, so we worked together to find out what would work for her, and looked online for a larger size because she’s going to wear a 20 Size 16 tops and 16 bottoms.
We told a few more friends about Jane and they were surprised but accepted. After a few years, Jane started to want to get out there and appear as a woman in public, so she started wearing more modest clothes, similar to mine. We would stick our heads out the front door to see if our neighbors had spotted us, and then drive to a nearby city to shop.
Finally, Jane was not satisfied with dressing up as a woman occasionally. In 2011, she told me she wanted to do hormone therapy and gradually transform into a full woman. She explained that the idea was so deeply rooted in her mind that as early as the age of five, she said to her mother, “Look, I’m a girl and I want to wear girls’ clothes”. Back then, transgenderism was unheard of, so her mom didn’t take it seriously.
I was in a state of anxiety and began to grudgingly recognize the reality: I had to accept that the man I married was actually a woman.Even with all this happening, I never thought about getting a divorce. We got along very well and I don’t want to end the marriage, but I still feel a very strong bereavement because I lost my husband.
It’s one thing to want to dress up as a woman, but hormonal therapy is only the first step if you want to have full sex reassignment surgery. The thought of this operation made me very uneasy, and I was very worried about the risks of the operation. It was so hard for me to get used to it, I told Jane at the time that I loved her, but I sometimes lost my temper. The next step was coming out as a woman at the university where she worked at the time.
Fortunately, her employers have been extremely supportive and Jane has received hundreds of support emails from students.
I still had to deal with my sense of loss, so I started seeing a counselor and exploring my innermost feelings helped me make sure I still wanted to be with Jane. I started to look at things from another angle: I didn’t lose my husband, on the contrary, I still had this person, just in a different form.
Before Jane started hormone therapy, it was clear to me that we had to tell Jane’s sons and daughters. They were in their thirties at the time, so predictably, they were completely taken aback. We found out later that many trans people are unfortunately estranged from their families. Eventually, after multiple emails and phone calls, Jane’s children accepted.
The next step was to tell everyone in our village that I was organizing a night of wine and cheese tasting for a local group, and before I started, I went around and told everyone to pay attention to what happened to “John” that night. When a male friend found out at the time, he said, “He can’t do this!” He was so frightened that he had to drink a glass of spirits. I explained to him that no matter what a person becomes, it doesn’t stop you from loving that person. After so many years, he finally accepted John who became Jane.
Jane needed to live fully as a woman for two years before the surgery. The surgery involves a full vaginoplasty, which typically creates a vagina by inverting the penis and removing the testicles. After hormonal treatment, Jane’s breasts developed and facial hair growth slowed. The surgery was a four-hour drive to Nuffield Health Hospital in Brayton one morning in June 2014, and fear took hold of a large part of me. I was worried that the surgery would fail, but luckily everything went according to plan. Even though so much had changed, I was relieved and less anxious at that moment. I’m starting to feel a new life coming, and I’m going to start a new chapter of my life with Jane.
I no longer worry about being pointed at. Jane is so confident and doesn’t seem to care, and I’m so proud of her strength.
However, we are careful where we go and do not enter the city late at night. We’ve only been treated unkindly once, and that was at a local butcher’s shop, when the male employee behind the counter said, “Looks like someone’s dressed up as ‘stylish’ today”. Jane was upset so we never went to that store again.
Jane classifies herself as a “trans lesbian,” which means she still likes me, and so do I. We are still as close as a couple, we kiss and hug.
After meeting other trans people, I found that my situation was unusual. Sadly, when marriages meet transgender, they generally come to an end. Another woman and I set up a support group called Beaumont Partners to help women who also have a trans “husband” and partners of trans people. I’m very alone in the face of all this, so I don’t want other people to feel the same way. I want to reassure the other ladies and tell them that if they have the courage to face it and take the time to take it slow, maybe everything will work out. Jane and I are just normal people, but our love and tolerance for each other transcends everything.
Jane elaborated on her heart:
When I came out, everyone said to me, “You’re so brave,” but I was just relieved that I finally didn’t have to live a lie. The real courageous person is actually Barbara.
For all these years, I’ve wanted to confess to her, but I’m afraid she’ll get mad or even leave me. I’ve been suppressing this side of myself all my life, but now our marriage is stronger because I don’t need to be careful about my words and actions anymore.
For as long as I can remember, I felt like I was born with the wrong gender. When I was a child, out of curiosity, I often exchanged clothes with the girl next door secretly. I told my mother that I wanted to wear a girl’s clothes, but she got angry: “Don’t be stupid, you can’t do this”, which left an indelible psychological shadow on me.
I was more relieved when Barbara found my bag full of women’s clothing. For years, I’ve been secretly grooming myself when she’s out at night. Sadly, I know I can’t confess this to her. Many women in the same situation as her would feel betrayed by their husbands, but Barbara doesn’t.
I don’t feel guilty either, it’s not my fault that I’m trans, it’s just something wrong with the way I was born, and no one knows why. A lot of transgender people are cut off from their families, so I’m also worried about letting my two grown children know. As expected, my children were shocked.
I also decided to tell my ex-wife because I knew the kids needed someone to talk to. My ex-wife and I have known each other since we were 18, but when I met her as Jane, she told me, “This is the most relaxing time I’ve ever seen you.”
As we sat with Barbara for tea, my ex-wife said to her, “I can’t handle this!”. For me, having Barbara’s company has been a blessing for three lifetimes. Interestingly, my grandkids were the most receptive. The child thinks this is all natural and no big deal. I met them as Jane once at lunch at a pub, and they were a little shy at first, but Barbara distracted the kids with a deck of cards. After that, I was able to slowly explain to my kids that it wasn’t a midlife crisis. My daughter admitted that growing up she always felt like I was looking for something, and now it all makes sense.
As an outspoken trans person, I have been verbally bullied when discussing trans issues online. I try not to take it to heart, but honestly it’s not easy. The anti-trans voices are strong, so as a minority, it’s not easy. I hope the world can fully accept us.
Jane Hamlin is the UK’s largest transgender support organisation Beaumont Society the chairman.If your partner is transgender and you want help, please visit Beaumontsociety.org.uk/partners。
【Yahoo Feature】Understanding Diversity and Transgender Create a Harmonious Society
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