My partner recently came out as trans, and it’s been very hard for me. She used to present as a very rugged, masculine man and wanted to wait until we were married to have sex. I went along with those wholesome ideals and waited because our relationship was so good and I loved how attentive she was to my family. (We both brought a child into the relationship.) After we got married, sex was very infrequent, about four times a year. I’m a very sexual person, and this was sad and confusing, but her reasons were very plausible—until, three years in, she finally told me she wanted to transition.
I’m having the hardest time, and I feel horrible about it. Seeing my spouse as a woman makes me feel panicky about sex. Trying to have sex when I feel panicky is a horrible feeling. I’ve never been transphobic, and I want to be a good ally, but I can’t get on board with this. I’m a heterosexual woman who’s never been attracted to women. But this is my partner, and she was uncomfortable having sex with me as a man. Now I’m uncomfortable having sex with her as a woman. I also feel terrible because she comes from a strict, conservative background and works in a very trans-unfriendly environment. I’m failing my spouse, and I feel anxious all the time. I’ve supported her in staying home to care for the kids and in transitioning, talking about her feelings—everything but sex I can happily and easily support. Also, I’m angry that I didn’t know why she wouldn’t have sex with me for three years. What should I do?
—Trouble With Transition