Branwen’s Note: Rachel shared this on FB this morning and I asked permission to post it as a guest post here on the blog. I am so grateful to be married to this woman every. single. day. We talk, we heatedly discuss, we even sometime debate, but every step of our relationship has been one we worked on together – as partners, as equals, and with love.
And I absolutely second everything Rachel says about our community – they have been amazing. I am so lucky to have found myself among such loving and wonderful people.
TL;DR Corvus is now Branwen Danielle Zakariasen; He/Him is now She/Her. I am 100% good with it. We are totally fine as a couple. P.S. I am gay (in case you didn’t know). Also – Big Lesbian Wedding.
Among some of the other big (I was going to say huge, but that word has clearly been ruined forever) changes in our lives right now (move, job, house, horrifying political landscape, etc.), Corvus (now Branwen) has come to a new place in HER journey. That’s right, she has come to the realization that her true gender identity is female. This is not really a surprise to any of us who know her and is the culmination of a lot of soul searching, introspection, and conversation. And I am so proud of her for figuring this out and for also being willing to be so open and transparent about what she is going through. (Her posts on Facebook and her blog are public, so please feel free to get her take on things.)
With Branwen’s announcement of what she is going through, we have BOTH been overwhelmed with support, kindness, and acceptance. It has literally been a love fest everywhere we go. People are going out of their way to get comfortable with new names (and having fun coming up with nicknames) and new pronouns and it is amazing. I love our people.
On New Years Eve we went to a wonderful party hosted by long-time friends of Branwen. This was our second holiday party with this wonderful MSP community and let me tell you, I feel so fortunate to know these people. Not only do they sincerely love and care for Branwen, they have welcomed me with open arms and really helped me feel completely at home. Tribe is tribe. We walked in the door that night to shouts of “Branwen!” and hugs and it was lovely. That night a wonderful woman walked up to me, hugged me and said, “How are you doing? It has to feel like all Branwen all the time. And we want you to know we are here for you too.” Like I said, wonderful, wonderful people.
I have to admit, in a lot of ways, I have been very focused on Branwen and how she is feeling and her experiences. So as more and more people have reached out to me with care, concern, and offers of support, I realized that I haven’t really talked publicly about how I am doing, which seems like a bit of an oversight.
And indeed, many of the wives of trans women have a tough road ahead of them. I know women who have gone (and are going) through this and for some it has been devastating. It is a sense of loss about the future they imagined, the person they feel or felt they have known so well, etc. And let us not gloss over the sense of isolation and shame that so many feel because they do not have people they can talk to about what is going on. Knowing this fills me with gratitude for the position I am in and a deep awareness of the kind of privilege I enjoy that even makes this all possible.
So, things I want you to know:
1. Talking with people about what is going on helps enormously. It gives me a chance to talk about me. It normalizes what we are going through and gives me an opportunity to talk about how I feel, how we are doing as a couple, etc. (Never fear, I will also be going to therapy!)
2. This is not super surprising to me. Branwen’s gender identity is something we have talked about for a long time and this all feels very natural and healthy for her. I know she is on the right path.
3. I am gay. I have often reflected on what a surprise it was that I ended up a married lady with a husband (and a career and a mortgage and a pretty damn good life). And while I have had a complex relationship with my heteronormative life and privilege, I have definitely benefited from it. Including not needing to do things like ever talk to my family (or coworkers or friends) about my sexuality unless I explicitly wanted to. That is much harder to do when you now have a wife. Some members of my family are totally 100% on board, others are having to adjust. I feel grateful that my immediate family members are putting in the effort to do so. And after spending years feeling like I didn’t belong in the queer community as a woman married to a man, I am so excited to be with my people in a new way. In a lot of ways, this is a coming out time for me too. So, for the record, let me state that my preferences tend to run female and I would consider myself more lesbian than bisexual. In other words, if something happened between Branwen and me, I would not be looking to date men.
4. We are (planning on) staying married. One of the great articles I read had a quote from a wife of a trans woman. She said, after discussing her intention to stay married that, “I just think it would be naive to say we will be together forever.” Too many times in my life I have made sweeping “I will never…” statements that turned out to not be true (see recent move back to Minnesota). I feel like it is a smart thing and a thing that will help us stay focused on each other and the relationship (and ourselves) if we know that we still have to put the work in every day. But we are talking about this daily and both committed to remaining a family.
5. BIG LESBIAN WEDDING – throughout all of this, the one thing that gets me feeling really giddy happy is the idea that I am going to have a wife. My wife. I often felt something that I would not call regret. I don’t really know what to call it, honestly. But the idea that I would go my whole life not being in a long term relationship with a woman felt uncomfortable. When we got married nearly 15 years ago, I really struggled with the wedding. (Come to think of it, I have always struggled with weddings…) I didn’t want to be “one of those girls” but there was this part of me that also dreamed of being decked out in a beautiful dress and having an amazing party. I was also riddled with anxiety at the time and unable to be truly present in the moment. As I have come to know myself more and more, as I have learned to deal with my anxiety, as I have come to love and value myself, I have also come to regret that I was not able to make that day the celebration it should have been. For years I have said I want to get married again. To which Corvus (now Branwen) would sweetly say, but I am not divorcing you. In more serious moments when we talked about it, he (now she) would say that re-commitment and vow renewal ceremonies really only seemed appropriate if a couple had been through something major and they needed to do that for them. I couldn’t argue with that. And I sincerely hoped we wouldn’t have something happen that would cause us to need that. But now, how lucky am I?! This is a big change!! And we deserve to marry each other again as the people we are now. Two women. Who love each other. Plus their poodles. So, when all of this transition journey is complete, you can bet there will be one kick ass wedding happening!
So, that is sort of that. For now. Not every day is easy. There are moments of anxiety (especially in the current political climate). Keep checking in with us. It matters. We love you.
Also, there are no stupid questions. I have a lot of them. I am sure you do too. Please, please feel like you can talk to me. We can figure this out together.