My Husband Hid Gender Identity Mismatch

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 50s. My husband married me while hiding the fact that he is transgender, that the gender of his mind and body do not match. His harassing behavior gradually began escalating 30 years ago. He didn’t care for me even during my pregnancy, which caused me to become mentally unbalanced and see a psychiatrist.

After our child moved out of our home, my husband started leading a life as a woman and temporarily lived with a woman who treated him as such. My husband revealed his gender identity to me about 10 years ago, when I was having a difficult time fighting my illness. He said that he wanted my consent to live as a woman.

He was quite vehement about wanting to wear women’s underwear in his daily life. I couldn’t accept a husband like this and asked for a divorce. However, he then said he would stop pursuing a female persona because he didn’t want to get divorced, and he disposed of the women’s underwear and other stuff.

I can’t talk to my friends or our child about this matter. I want to live the rest of my life freely. Is it cruel to tell our child and get a divorce?

— N, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. N:

You have endured this situation for 10 years since you learned about the true nature of your husband. I can imagine how hard it must have been for you. He was insensitive of your difficult time, came out, taking advantage of your vulnerability, and did whatever he wanted. But only when you asked him for a divorce, did he show signs of remorse. Simply put, he is too selfish.

Judging from your letter, it is not simply a matter of your husband hiding being transgender. Even if taking into consideration that there was a lack of understanding of sexual minorities 30 years ago, what you have been through is a clear case of domestic abuse.

First of all, don’t keep the problem to yourself, including your husband’s secrets. I don’t know how much you have been able to tell your psychiatrist, but you should go to the women’s consultation service of your local government, stressing that such domestic abuse is the problem, rather than your husband’s gender identity, and think about how to resolve the situation.

I don’t know how old your child is, but if he or she is an adult, I think they will fully understand your pain. If your child is still young, you can probably just tell them about your husband’s “harassment” and reveal more eventually.

You still have a long way to go in your life. From now on, please focus on trying to live your life in your own way and enjoy it.

— Masahiro Yamada, university professor