Unwrapping the Onion: Part 9: Starting a New Life

This post is the final post in a series. Please click here to start with the series Introduction.

It’s the spring of 2012 now, and we’ve moved to a new home in a new city and are making new friends and starting over. We’ve officially left the ministry and are making new career plans. My spouse has begun transition and she has been able to go by her new name and female pronouns publicly now after using them at home for months. Only now there is no second guessing over what she can wear when we go out. There is no tripping over which name to use. It’s only been a few months, but she has said “I’m so happy!” with enough frequency that it has actually gotten downright annoying at times. For the first time my spouse can just be. She is so relaxed, and it all seems so right for her, it has become strange to try and think of her in any other way.

We’ve begun to forge a new community living our lives openly. We hope to make connections through work and school, we are already making inroads in the LGBTQ community and a local accepting church we’ve attended on occasion. We’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the support of some old friends, and the deepening of new friendships. When I announced that we were moving a short time ago, Joe Sands from Incongruous Circumspection (whom I had never met in person) discovered that we were moving to their area, and promptly informed me that he and his wife Kristine would be happy to help us move in. At first I sort of dodged, hoping that like most polite offers, he didn’t really mean it, but he persisted in telling me again and again to let them know when we were moving in. And so, I sent him an abbreviated version of our story, explaining that although they knew me from my blog as a woman married to a man, they would be meeting us at our new home as a lesbian couple and why that was the case. Within minutes their reply came back saying that it did not matter to them (or in Joe’s own own words “he doesn’t care“), and that they would still love to help us move. And then they proceeded to drive 40 minutes with all their children in tow, to meet some strangers at their new apartment at 7 o’clock on a Sunday night and help them unload their truck. And they didn’t stop there, they have invited us into their home, shared meals with us, and even babysat our children. The people we have met along this journey have changed our lives, and given us hope.

I wrote in January that my word for the year was acceptance, and how I felt afraid, and I still have some fears over so many new things, like getting a job, going to school, and putting my oldest into school. But as we’ve taken this next step into living life with all pretenses dropped, I am strangely not afraid of my spouse living authentically. We met as very limited people, both trying to do the “right” thing. We married so quickly, hardly knowing each other, much less the secrets each of us were hiding. And yet as we both changed and grew to the point where we came out to ourselves and each other, we were each able to find acceptance and understanding in our partner. We found freedom side by side, and after that crazy journey, were surprised to find that we fit together better than we ever could have imagined. It’s an unbelievable love story, a modern day fairy tale.

And yet, the word acceptance has served me well as a reminder to accept relatives where they are at, as well as the reactions from family and friends as we’ve come out. Telling our parents and friends about the changes in our lives was probably one of the scariest things we have ever done. But it was time, we were no longer unsure of what direction we were headed, and it was getting awkward to be tripping over my own spouse’s name while on the phone with someone who didn’t know the whole story.

We expected the worst, and it has been hard. We’ve had some hurtful statements, but many of our family and friends have responded more with sorrow and confusion than hate and anger, and that is encouraging. As much as we love them, if they are hurt by us living our lives there is nothing we can do about that. We try to love and accept them where they are at, even if their beliefs tell them that we are horribly wrong. It is not our job to try and educate them or make them change their minds. That has to be their journey just as it has been ours. We love our families, and we hope to continue relationship with them if they want that.

One of the things that has surprised me the most has been how many people have expressed shock that we are monogamous. It is as if they think being gay or transgender somehow means you no longer have the ability or inclination to be faithful to one person. We have been married for seven years and neither of us has ever cheated on the other. Furthermore, neither of us are interested anything other than monogamy. We are happily married and partnered in life. My spouse is a woman attracted to women, and I am a woman attracted to women. Everything we have been through together has only made us closer as a couple. Why would we want to leave each other?

Thankfully, the kids have adjusted well. They have gradually switched on their own time from calling my spouse “Daddy” to calling her “Dee.” They still have both parents loving and caring for them daily. When they’ve asked questions we’ve answered honestly. If they need further help now or at some point in the future we would not hesitate to get it for them. I have hopes that as time goes on society will become more and more accepting of diversity in families. Recently I overheard Ms Action chatting with one of her little friends. The friend mentioned their dad and Ms Action said, “Dee is kind of like the dad in our family, she’s awesome.” They are happy that their parent is being herself, just as we encourage them to be themselves.

This experience has been part of our abandoning gender roles. Obviously gender roles made no sense if we were actually both the same gender, but as we started to consider each other as equals we really had to question the idea in general. Why the assumption that anyone is better at anything based solely on what sex they are? All that time I spent waiting for my spouse to put together the crib or hang the pictures, and it turns out I’m the one who is handy with tools. And the kids respond way better to their Dee wrestling them into pajama’s each night. I really have to wonder why society feels the need to push such extreme gender roles and images. Why can’t people just be who they are and use their gifts and talents accordingly? Unfortunately our society still shames and even shuns people who don’t fully conform to gender roles, and I believe this limits so much opportunity for people to discover what they are good at and what they enjoy. I am looking forward to learning things I never allowed myself to consider because of my gender.

Obviously this journey has played a part in my faith as well. I just have not been able to relate my experience with the religious idea of conformity. In becoming healthy authentic people, both of us have been left largely without a spiritual home. Most Christian groups do not recognize our reality as valid, claiming that we are choosing to live sinful sordid lives and telling all kinds of lies about people like us to bolster their claims. I cannot understand why a god would create such diversity in people and then demand that they all live the same life in the exact same manner. This is not my only question regarding Christianity (I’ve written about my questions regarding penal substitutionary atonement, prayer and more), but it is a huge barrier to my even being interested anymore. So where am I at religiously? Where would you be if you had my story? We don’t know where we fit anymore. After studying for and serving the church for years my spouse discovered there wasn’t room for her for her to be more authentic, let alone transition. It’s hard to believe in a god who creates people that his followers do not affirm or welcome. It’s hard to feel respected when you are told to divorce your spouse simply because they are being honest about who they are.

Watching anti-LGBTQ politics largely fueled by religion, has taken on a new light, because now it is MY family that is being attacked. Many people seem to think that my family shouldn’t exist. But we do, and we are just the same as any other family. We work hard to provide for our kids health and education. We have our issues and quirks like any other people. We still work to heal from problems of the past, and strive to learn more about gentle respectful parenting. We still eat and go for walks together, wash our kids’ hands and faces, read stories at bedtime and sometimes play hide and seek or have tickling wars. In most ways, we are just your average family. The person you have gotten to know through my writing, is still the same person.

I am now in the process of starting my first job ever and my Hunnie is in beauty school just like she’s wanted to for so long. I am enrolling in school part-time this summer. I honestly have no idea what I am going to major in – that journey remains to be discovered. We feel excited about the future. We are independent, living our own lives for the first time. I am proud to be married to someone as strong and brave as my spouse, someone who has battled through depression and thoughts of suicide and despair is now waking up every day with a smile on her face, excited about what the day will bring. She is an overcomer. Thirty percent of transgender people commit suicide, and I am grateful that wasn’t my Hunnie’s story. When I was in counseling my therapist asked me if I felt any resentment towards my spouse over all this. And as I thought it through, I could truthfully say no. Yes, I have had questions and struggles, and yes, it hasn’t been easy, but if I could go back in time knowing what I know now I would marry her all over again. She held my hand as I journeyed out of depression, has continued to encourage me to discover my own interests, took the initiative to end corporal punishment in our home permanently, and continues to be my partner, co-parent, lover, and friend.

I am proud to face the world with her at my side.
Thank you for reading.

*At the time I wrote and published this series, my spouse asked me not to use her name. A short time later she changed her mind, so I wanted to add here that that her name is Haley.*

  • Anonymous

    Aw, that is a very sweet story. I am glad you are happy with your lives now and wish you much joy together in the future.

  • http://travelingmonkeys.org Deanna

    As well you should be. Bravo to acceptance and for living your truth. It's been an honor to read along.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06993967190131485391 Blotz

    Slow clap… standing ovation… beautiful story.

  • http://bloggbib.net/Tanz/ Eva @View from the Hillside

    Following this series has been both moving and interesting. I'll keep following.
    Best of luck to you both.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Your children are blessed to have such open, hard working parents. And your story of the growth of mutual love and self love in your marriage is inspiring. I believe that you are creating such live within your family and peace in our world through your authenticity and honesty.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10515811554518736780 Ada-Jean

    Wow. What an honest, courageous description of a journey. I'm so glad the destination was worth getting to. *hugs* from a stranger for all your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17355762116034141355 Becca

    What a beautiful ending to your story! I wish you and your family all the happiness in the world :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03381830487012041258 jennl777

    I am in awe. I wish you and your family all the very best in this next stage of your lives.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/TimidAtheist Timid Atheist

    I waited until the end of this story to comment, because I wanted to read it all. This is such an amazing read. You're a wonderful writer, Melissa. Your story is sweet and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing it and allowing me to read it. It makes me even more determined in my chosen course. I wish you and your adorable family all the best as you move forward. I love happy endings. And while yours may not be perfect, I think it's perfect for you and that's the best kind of perfect there is.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story! I have waited with bated breath for each installment and am so happy for you both. Looking forward to hearing your regular blog posts about your new-normal lives. All the best to you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00597012674027878494 rain ::

    *tears* i wish i could squeeze both of you in real life. what a story…blessings to you as you continue this journey. xo.

  • http://www.figboiler.typepad.com Boo

    What an incredible love story! I am near tears reading it. Thank you for sharing it- you are both such brave women.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing that. The world needs to hear about it. And you are both so lucky to have each other!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations. And there is room for all kinds of families at the Unitarian Universalist church if you ever want to check us out. You are welcome at our table.

  • http://www.gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com DMa

    The strength and bravery both you and your Hunnie have exhibited is rare. Thank you for opening up and being willing to tell of your journey. It is easy to dehumanize the LGBTQ community until you hear a personal story. It's easy to be "them" and "us" until you realize that "them" are real people, with real hearts, and real feelings. Until you realize that "them" are not freaks and weirdos, but regular people trying to make it in this life like everyone else.

    Hugs to you both for living authentically.

  • Anonymous

    You don't need to thank me for reading – I need to thank you for writing.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

  • William Burns

    I'm glad the two of you have reached a place of love and happiness. You deserve it! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06233321050691782148 Michael Mock

    Darn it, you're making me sniffly at work again…

    Good on both of you. That's an amazing story, and I'm so glad that you've been able to support each other and stay together and make sure the children are still supported as well. (Maybe even more supported!)

    The fact that some people can't understand how that could possibly work is… well, it's sad, for one thing. But their lack of understanding is far, far less important than the fact that your {marriage/partnership/family} does work. (It's kind of funny how something that's supposed to be such a big change turns out not to change much at all, isn't it? I don't know, I'm looking in from the outside, but it seems that way to me.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08782366056731381450 Froborr

    A truly beautiful and wonderful story. Now that you have finished it, I plan to link it to everyone I knokw. It is just too good, too inspiring not to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17952020007163151134 villemezbrown

    Beautiful ending to a wonderful story. It really is a modern-day fairy tale. Once again, thank you for sharing.

    Adele

  • http://thebrunettesblog.wordpress.com/ thebrunettesblog

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I also grew up in a conservative Christian homeschooled family, and last year my baby sister came out as transgender. He's in the process of transitioning right now, and I've been in the position of being the only fully supportive family member. Family's reactions to things like this can be really, really hard, and it's so encouraging to hear someone else's story of courage and love.

    - Ginny

  • Meyli

    Hooray! I'm so happy you've shared your story and your family. I echo above comments about giving you a round of applause just because your relationship has grown in the best of ways :D

  • Anonymous

    Melissa, what a beautiful story. I am continually amazed that you two found each other essentially randomly. And I find your point about you breaking out of a gender role too very interesting. In a way you are doing a similar thing, except of course that your imposed set of expectations is only followed by a small portion of society and they are no external physical indicators that you're "supposed" to be pregnant with number six, and homeschooling and asking permission to drive home via Sears.

    Love, Sarah

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    I like that, because no family is perfect, but it is working just fine for us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Maybe someday we will meet in person Rain, until then know that all the virtual hugs and squeezes have meant the world to me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06583242351453043902 Kelseigh

    I love a happy ending. Or in this case, a happy beginning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Yes, starting transition has really been more natural than anything else. The big changes have been moving across an international border and starting the job hunt.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Ginny- Thanks for being there for your sibling, I can speak from experience when I say that a loving understanding family member can mean the world to someone going through transition.

  • http://thethreelittlethings.wordpress.com/ thethreelittlethings

    Wow, what a story. I wish you much happiness in the future.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11403414048823693159 Mars Girl

    Great story!! You are a great writer, Melissa. Perhaps you should return to that journalism bug you had when you were younger. I think you'd be great!

    And, as a commenter above pointed out, you should check out Unitarian Universalism. I'm a member and it fits me well. No one would even bat an eye at an LBGT couple. I've grown in my understanding of the LGBT from just being there myself. It really exposed me to a lot of different people from those I knew in the community I grew up in. It's opened my mind and made it even more accepting than I ever was. It's a good place.

    If you want to keep into Christianity, you might check out UCC (United Church of Christ) which we UUs call our Christian cousins–they are very open-minded and welcoming. Also, you might check out the Episcopal Church–they too are very welcoming and similar to Catholicism in ritual.

    Good luck on all of your journeys!

  • http://www.quicksilverqueen.com Anne

    I love that your story has a happy ending!! I love what you said about gender roles…you're better with tools and she's great at putting the kids to bed. Very liberating, IMO! So happy for you and your family!! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02224561280478383821 Nancy

    So, when can we expect your book to come out?? Really! I have been following you for some time now and will continue to do so. I too come from a plain religious background and still find it challenging to be authentic with certain people and in certain situations. You inspire me to be REAL! Thank-you!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15368648929210317916 Karen

    I rarely, if ever, comment on blogs or other internet articles…but I feel compelled to do so now. Thank you for your courage. Your story has provided so many of us with an inspiring example of the healing power of unconditional love and honesty to others and most importantly, to oneself. Talk about a teachable moment.

    Also, as a new parent who is also reconciling and rejecting many aspects of her childhood (which, while essentially non-religious, was deeply impacted by a parent with mental illness), I admire your strength as a mother and have learned much about parenting from you (and Libby Anne, through whom I was introduced to your blog).

    Thank you for being you. And thank you to your wife for being herself.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I'm blubbering like a baby. Thank you so much for sharing, it's one of the best love stories I've ever read.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Sarah

    WOW! What a wonderful story to share. You are truly someone that we could all learn from on how to live an authentic life. Thanks for sharing your story. Much happiness to you and your family!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03117752360285429048 Jessica

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Hugs to you and your spouse. This Christian supports you wholeheartedly :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    You forgot to mention your cookin' makes us swoon and THAT is why we like y'all.

  • http://nowealthbutlife.com Rae

    I have been gradually saddened as I read this series and the comments. Because no one understands the depth of pain to work through. I certainly don't, and it is probably a gift that you don't, even as none of us really know what will come in our lives. And it kills me a little that those cheering most for you seem most blind to all that still has to be worked through. The skewed gender roles from our childhoods (and yes, I think mine was fairly close to yours) are no joke. And since you have so much more to deal with it is obviously that much more difficult.

    Perhaps the other comments are hiding a deeper understanding that leads them to focus on any bright spot they can find. And if so, then that is a blessing.

    I hope that you find a community and are able to cultivate tremendous friendships. I can't understand you because I don't know how much you are translating this back into the language from which you came, and how much you are still a part of what you always have been. But it is clear that you are working to embrace life and love, and that is wonderful. I hope that you will find a community of faith that can help you on your journey. There are many out there, just think of all the evil liberals denounced by those who ordained your spouse. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    You are walking and have been walking your journey with tremendous courage in the face of all that you began with (the baggage from your upbringing, etc.). I think your honesty and truthfulness is the best aspect you can bring to your spiritual journey, as you have done in this entire journey. How can anyone go wrong with that? If God has those qualities or attributes (if one believes in or is considering whether there is a God), then those qualities will be welcome in the search, I would think, as well as the person who is searching with those qualities.

    Ms. Action's comment was incredibly touching.

    Not an anonymous who has commented in this series, but one who has respectfully followed what you have shared and been very moved by your experiences and how you have shared them.

  • Anna

    You and your story are incredible. I came across this blog a month ago and have been enthralled with it ever since. I hope all the best for you and your family on your journey.

  • Cathy W

    …there's something in my eye…yeah, that's it…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Thanks for reminding me, I have to post that Chicken curry corn chowder recipe!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Hey Rae,
    Yes, there has been so much pain to work through, and there continues to be pain in the loss of people who have left us because of this journey, there are still triggers to work through from the past, and there are many unknown things in the future. But do any of us really know when something unknown is going to show up on our doorstep? We are just grateful that we have people who love and support us even when they don't understand, and that we have each other and our kids. Each step has only brought more overall peace, as I learn to trust my gut for the first time.

  • http://offtopic.akrasiac.org violet

    You really weren't kidding about unwrapping that onion, were you? I totally cried.

    Thank you for writing this series.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04262012749524758120 Eamon Knight

    By my reading, Joe seems to be in the US — which means you were in Canada previously? (In which case, our loss). Up here, there'd be no legal question about your marital status.

  • Julie

    I've been lurking here for a little over a year. It's really hard to find others who understand the spiritual battles and "issues" of abused Christians. Your story has been fascinating to read, and I am so happy for you! I wish you much love and happiness!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05064486405031936414 DawnL

    What an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing it with such candor and heartfelt love. Finding the right town to live as an openly lesbian couple helps a lot. My partner and I have been raising kids in Austin, Texas for years and found little disruption to the normal experiences for our kids. (even in what is known as a conservative suburb) We are both involve at school and have had several teachers ask us to be class parents or have commented at the end of the year that they wish more parents were as involved. The best comments were the ones that came from teachers that were clearly uncomfortable with us in the beginning. While the kids were in elementary, we began each year with a meeting with the teacher to help them understand our family and the learning styles of the kids. While some were uncomfortable, universally, they were a great way to start the year. I am happy to share that we have happy, well adjusted, academically achieving teenagers that have had no visible life changes based on our relationship. We even have kids that have become activists for rights and marriage equality.

    I wish you all the happiness in the world and hope you find love and acceptance in your new community. I also hope you find a new church home that fits your beliefs and values. After a bad experience when I came out, it took me 15 years to get comfortable with church again. My beliefs never changed, I just couldn't get past those religions and people that used their beliefs as a weapon. Finding a church home that exemplifies the love and acceptance that is a core to my beliefs, was a great moment for me and I wish you the same.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Eamon- Yep, we were US citizens living in Canada for the last 3 years. It's good to have the rights of a citizen again, but we will miss some things about Canada for sure!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04262012749524758120 Eamon Knight

    Amazing story, that I'm sure took a lot of courage to put out in public. Best of wishes to your family.

    Also, like some other commenters, I find the breaking gender roles theme interesting (actually, a bit startling). Most of the things you describe your spouse as doing when (then) he starts to transition are things that either A) my wife seldom or never does (like wear makeup) or B) we both did as a matter of course, like playing with our kids when they were little. For that matter, most of our friends who had kids around the same time as us, even the Catholic and evangelical ones, the dads changed diapers and played with their babies and toddlers. (Heck, I remember my Dad wrestling with me, 50 years ago — and he was born in 1920!). So I find the idea that your church culture would define gender roles so narrowly, that this becomes a radical thing to do, just bizarre.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00550847149908532903 Cassidy

    I've waited until the end to comment. I am so happy for you and your wonderful family. I wish you all the very best and am looking forward to reading future posts about your happy little family in a new chapter of your lives. ((hugs))

  • http://bundesbedenkentraeger.wordpress.com Bundesbedenkenträger

    Yo got me teras in my eyes. I wanted to read the whole story before commenting, but I am happy for how things developed for you, and wish you all the best in the time to come.
    Being Christian myself, I also was interested in the hints on your spiritual journey. I have no such background as you, the kind of christianity here in my country is in its majority more accepting I guess, so I hoped you would not loose connection to God, though I'd absolutely understand it. So I am also happy you found an accepting church where you live now. I would like to point you to some alternative theology, not as if it was the way I want you to go, but as an offer as these have helped me on my way understanding God better. So please do not understand it as pushing, but as an open offer:

    Concerning the penal substitution, I want to bring the (lengthy) text by Derek Flood to your attention. Basically it can be boiled down that Jesus isn't killed for God Father, but for the devil. Sounds horrible? Yes, but isn't meant that way. There's more to it, and definately worth a read.

    The same Derek Flood also writes for the Huffington Post and has there two articles that might address your bible allergies.

    There are more articles by him on his HP site. He also has his own blog, where you can read even more articles. I found the vast majority of them very thought provoking, so maybe they can serve you as a help, too.

    Another ressource of good alternative theology is the homapeg of the hellbound-movie. The movie isn't out yet, but it sounds interesting. What I wanted to bring to your attention is their blog, which has also some good articles and is updated quite frequently.

    I am not sure if this is now the time for you to deal with theology. Your spouse was a minister, so the both of you might be fed up with all kind of theology for a while. All I wanted to do is pass on some information, without pushing it on you.

    God bless

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    While much of the theology I grew up with dictates a very strong gender divide, I also remember my dad changing daipers and playing with the kids on the floor. My spouse didn't do much more than occasional holding of the baby and reading them a few books until he was able to start being himself instead of spending much his energy surviving. I agree with you. I feel that gender expression is really based on each person's personality and has nothing to do with gender, and housework and childcare is something every person can be capable of. My spouse now does as much childcare and house care as I do, something I do not remember any of the dads in my childhood doing. I don't think that has a whole lot to do with her transition, (although it may have pushed us to start thinking about the issue more) it had to do with becoming more comfortable in her own skin and leaving the idea that any one person has to be exclusively responsible for anything based on their genetics.

  • Ethyl

    Great series, so glad I came across it! The picture that you chose to place with your final installment really just poked me right in the heart.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15439212303693220034 SKM

    Beauty. Glad I took the time to read. Blessings to you both.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10882606147795083729 rbarenblat

    Thank you so much for telling your story. I admire you and your spouse tremendously for having the courage and strength to move through this process with your relationship intact. I wish you every blessing in this new chapter of your life!

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    ((Hugs)) I wish you all the best. Your strength and courage are a real example for me. This has been a very moving story of acceptance and self-discovery and I'm just5 so glad you are in a better place right now.

    I hope you don't have much problem with the transition process, just yesterday I was discussing on a chatbox the benefits of going to Thailand to get surgery because of their great skill (practice makes perfect XP). I wonder how much of the transitions process is in some way subsidised by the insurance/state in the US? Here with a firm psychological diagnosis, it is free.

    Anyway, enjoy your happiness, you so deserve it!

  • citydog

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Wishing you much happiness and strength.

  • Anonymous

    Your story made me cry with joy. Thank you for living your live authentically, and for sharing your story. Although I am not religious (I am a Jew who was raised Catholic) and I do not believe in god as "he" is described in many faiths, I do think that it is possible for people of Christian faith to have a relationship with god if their views differ from the church. Most of all, I am sending you and your family love! Thanks again for your bravery.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15280777444552290407 MissDorotheaBrooke

    Your story is so wonderful and beautiful. I feel as if I have found a new friend and ally, even if I never meet you. I feel enriched for having read this. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    What a fantastic story! So glad to hear that things are working out for the both of you and I hope that other people in yours and Dee's situations get a chance to read this and see that there can be positive outcomes. Best wishes!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11366638376991975702 Sheena

    Thank you for sharing your family's story. I'm so happy for you and your spouse that you are so compatible and work so well together. I wish y'all the best :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17825458003284098965 Scott Morizot

    I'm glad that things have worked out as well as they have for you so far and I hope more things continue to go your way than not. You've certainly worked for peace and happiness through what seem to have been some pretty difficult circumstances. Since I wasn't raised in the sort of fundamentalist environment you've described in the past, I have difficulty relating though I do sort of understand. I can though, see the enormous gulf your spouse and you had to traverse to get from where you were to where you are. And I can see how near potential tragedy loomed. I'm not sure most people could have made that journey intact.

    Grace and peace to your whole family.

  • Anonymous

    This is lovely and inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with the world. You have given us a gift.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this story. It brought tears to my eyes! Best of luck to you and your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    You have had me captivated Melissa and this has been a great series. :)

  • Carrie

    I had to read this right away as soon as I happened upon a link about it. I know that it hasn't been easy for you or your family, but I'm so very happy that you have so much support around you and things are ok…and will be ok.

    I have a family member who came out as a transgendered woman a few years ago and my husband and I have really been the only fully supportive family members. Others have now been educated and learned acceptance, but there are still others who seem like they'll never find acceptance. It's a really painful thing to watch and I wish I could do more than just speak out against intolerance. However, your story reminded me that she is also surrounded by a great circle of supportive friends – a true family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16430430847669544406 Mad Gastronomer

    I'm so happy for you and your spouse. Best of luck to you both.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03105080714287793242 saraquill

    Reading this series, I could not help but think of a particular T-shirt. It has a rainbow, and along the arc, it says "LGBTerrific!"

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this series Melissa. I was brought to tears of sadness and joy multiple times while reading it. I wish you and your beautiful family all the best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03105080714287793242 saraquill

    Reading this series, I could not help but think of a particular T-shirt. It has a rainbow, and along the arc, it says "LGBTerrific!"

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    What a beautiful love story. *sigh* Wish I could hug every single one of you, so consider this a cyber-hug. :-)

    On another note, I'm so excited for you to be starting a new life and I'm THRILLED that you're going to school part-time soon! It's so exciting to think how you will absolutely thrive in a setting where your considerable intellectual gifts are valued and nurtured. Whatever you end up majoring in, I really hope that you end up taking some creative writing courses. You are a talented writer and have so much to say. With some good professors to encourage you and help you develop those talents further, you will be absolutely unstoppable. I know I would read anything you wrote. :-) I hope you'll keep us updated on your new endeavors and ideas. I am rooting for you 100%. :-)

    So glad that you and your spouse are both finally getting to be the people that you always were inside, in so many ways.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story so openly – there are so many around the world who need to see what they judge so plainly as another dimension of human struggle that we all experience in one form or another. As far as finding a new spiritual home, if I can recommend you look into Kabbalah, which is a spiritual belief for people of all (or no) faiths. We have many LGBTQ couples and families (and singles of course) who are treated among us as fellow humans (duh :) ). If you would like more info, I suggest http://www.kabbalah.com and the classroom site http://www.ukabbalah.com. Wishing all of your family a bright future full of love and joy.

  • Anonymous

    Your story is amazing. I wish you happiness as you go through this journey.

  • Anonymous

    Hi! I read an article on Jezebel.com that linked to your blog and your story. It was so inspiring to hear about how you and your spouse have finally become the people you've always felt you were and wanted to be. I just wanted to thank you for being so open and brave about sharing your experience. You sound like such awesome and genuine people. Keep doing you :) Cheers!

  • Anonymous

    crying. thanks for sharing this brave and beautiful story.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00966226397960302903 Linds84

    Be prepared for a sudden flood of comments, you've been written about on Jezebel http://jezebel.com/5905780/what-happens-when-a-quiverfull-dad-becomes-a-woman

  • http://theradicalhousewife.com Shannon Drury

    Jezebel brought me here because I was curious about your story, but I'm staying because I love your writing. I look forward to reading more!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03079852628674185384 Karen

    Wow – a thousand thanks for your brave story! I am so in awe of you and your spouse, working through this the way you have; your children will be in awe of you, too, when they grow up and realize what you have done. I'm so glad to have followed Libby Anne from Freethought Blogs to Patheos, to find her link to you!

    Even my becoming an atheist was difficult in my family. I can only dimly imagine what distress you've dealt with in yours. Be uplifted, in the bad times, by the knowledge that there are a lot of us strangers out here rooting for you!

  • Anonymous

    It's stories like yours that help drive change in the public's thoughts and prejudices about LGBTQ people and families. I'm so happy you were able to find happiness together. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01344141734931175537 Kat Heagberg

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Melissa. I've really enjoyed and/or learned a lot from your blog over the past year or so, and even though I don't tend to be much of a commenter, I've also been waiting until the end to comment.
    My husband was raised in a very similar environment to ones that it sounds like you and your wife were. I shared your blog with him and he was in awe of the strength and love that you both possess (as was I). What really made cry (and I am definitely not a crier!) was the realization of how incredibly lucky your children are to have you and your spouse as parents.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13136739606859501801 Dave

    This is an amazing story – I've been riveted, and checking several times a day in case the next part is up! When is the book coming out? You right so well, and have such a great story to tell I would love to see this series expanded into a book :)

  • Anonymous

    Your story brought tears to my eyes, and I'm so thankful you chose to share your story. The more people who can share their stories, the more LGBTQ lifestyles will become part of the "norm" and no longer considered taboo, perverted or wrong. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Just read about your story at jezebel.com and through your posts here. Wow, what a journey, I give you much props and credit for being so open and loving and enlightened and self-aware. My wish is that it comes back to you and your family one hundred-fold.

    I am also contemplating a change in my own relationship (though of a much less dramatic nature, and no kids involved) and your story is giving me courage to be fully who I am, with love and no recriminations or regrets, to jump off that cliff with the bungee cord to catch me…that is what it feels like for sure.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17376661866088668607 Julie

    Wow, I also found your story through jezebel.com. Truly a beautiful story.

  • Anonymous

    I found the link to your blog through Jezebel. I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and openness about the journey you and your spouse have taken together. Like yourself, I have struggled with a Christian upbringing and the role it has for women, and have refused to play the part I was told I should. It's good to know that we are not alone in this world for feeling different. Anyone who says differently may not understand the differences they themselves feel and respond by repression. Kudos to you for breaking free of that cycle.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05049442534437457900 Jessica

    This is so, so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing and for being so eloquent. I had a hard time reading it simply because I was blinded with tears and I wish my partner was here so I could hug him.

    It sounds like you have many exciting and nerve-wracking changes ahead of you, but you're strong and committed in your love. Good luck. I'd found your blog a few weeks ago via Love Joy Feminism and I look forward to continuing to read your posts here.

  • http://heron61.livejournal.com/ heron61

    Blessings to you and yours and thank you for sharing this, it was wonderful and inspiring.

  • Sherry

    Write a book. Please. Your story is so powerful and moving and necessary. I haven't been a Christian for more than 25 years, but I do remember ". . . and the greatest of these is love" – you have lived that commandment to its fullest and continue to do so. May you and your family walk in Beauty, Balance, and Delight for the rest of your lives.

  • http://lotuslandfineart.com/velvetrope W. Lotus

    Thank YOU for sharing. Blessings on you both as you continue to live authentic lives. If there is a divine person (a "god", if you will), they must be pleased.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06102395237405619385 Maggie Liz

    You and Dee are very brave, and I wish you the best of luck.

    As someone who was raised by authoritative (and abusive) parents, it took me until midway through college to figure out a lot of stuff. At 41, I'm still unpacking emotional baggage.

    YOU – both of you – are doing right by each other, caring for each other, and clearly you're both utterly in love. I'm not Christian, but I do know your faith even though I follow my own path to the divine. I can't imagine a God, who is love, to see anything wrong with raising children in love and partnership.

    Blessings on your family,
    Maggie

  • Anonymous

    I would like to suggest the United Church of Christ to you. We have a general policy of open and affirming for the LGBT community. In fact, the pastor of my church is gay and has a husband. My mom's UCC church in the next town over from me has been doing a campaign titled something like "our children don't belong in closets". Fourth of July float and everything.

    ps- you should write a book.

  • Anonymous

    This is a wonderful beautiful story and I am so grateful to you both for sharing it. I'm a liberal feminist queer and so I often worry about the folks like me who were raised in environments like you two were – there is so much death and heartache and it is so unbelievably wonderful that you could escape that and build a lovely life together. The kind of God I believe in would totally approve. So many blessings to you and your family!

  • Anonymous

    A true love story. I'm in tears. I wish you both the best!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16184001400591917830 Amber Lee

    What a beautiful, uplifting story; thank you so much for sharing it. I'm happily married to a heterosexual man, but I understand at least your struggle with religion and God. I grew up Mormon, but now I call myself an animist/agnostic, and have never been happier.

    I was directed to your story from the Jezebel website, and I am so grateful to have stumbled upon it. Your strength blows me away. I wish you a beautiful life full of love.

  • LaurenF

    Hugs, hugs, hugs, hugs. That was an amazing series. Honestly, when I got to the end my thoughts basically just consisted of "Oh man I love you!" even though I don't actually, um, know you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00291784086720186450 You want fries with that?

    Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Virtual Standing O.

    That was amazing – your story is profound and I would like to thank you for sharing it.

    My husband and I transitioned from a "straight couple" to a gay couple about a decade ago so much of it was familiar. However we are both long time atheists so we did not have to battle the same issues that you did. However as a physician who treats many transgender patients I have patients who struggle with the same sort of religious issues that you two have. I will be keeping the link for this series in my list of resources/readings for patients in that situation. Your openness and frank discussion of your experiences could be helpful.

    Best of luck to both of you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17476675136056853071 Kathryn

    What a wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing it.

    Our 5 year old daughter is transgender and began affirming her female gender 9 months ago, shortly before her 5th birthday. It's been so amazing watching her blossom and become a truly happy child in her skin, finally.

  • ScottInOH

    That was beautiful, Melissa. Thank you, and all best wishes to you and your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06243191698411871763 D. W.

    I'm so proud of you and your family!

    I have to admit that I skimmed most of the posts. Please understand that it isn't a reflection on your writing but that I knew the content would be very difficult for me to read. What you wrote here describes so much of the last several years of my life; I transitioned and my marriage has survived it. My wife says that she sees again the happy, engaged person that she once knew me to be. At 33, just after changing jobs and moving to a different state, I began my second attempt to transition (my first was at 19 and did *not* go well.)
    Nearly three years later I did transition completely. That time was filled with many tears, both of joy and pain, and we did come close to separating, but we decided that we wanted to fix our relationship and would do what it took to do so.

    We both accepted at the outset that we could lose contact with our families. I did lose contact with most of my family. The last group was in a particularly painful way: at Christmas, ten months after I told them that I was transitioning, and, basically, as three generations of my family were to sit down for our first dinner together since the start of the year. In the pain I felt from that, though, I realized something very important: while there are many things I would forego to have them back in my life, my transition is not one of them.

    Also, the course you are on may pay a dividend for your Hunnie, too. I transitioned while working for a particular employer (a US public/state
    university) and name/pronoun issues were persistent there. Even though I worked hard to control my reaction every instance of the wrong pronoun or name stung – there was an emotional toll for it. Fortunately, I planned to leave that employer as I was very much not happy with the work environment as a state employee. Less than a year after I transitioned at work I took a position with a company at which I am only known as myself. I was able to leave that past behind and it has been an incredible relief, so much that I was aware of the impact it had on me just three days into the job. had on me just three days into the job.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14707857929611126038 Prosey

    Love to you and yours. Just…BIG BIG love. <3

  • Anonymous

    I would like you to know that I think you are a beautiful human being. I followed links to other blog posts and read about your feelings towards your upbringing, and the way you feel about raising your children, the way you think of them as fellow people to guide and help grow, not control. Your level of awareness and compassion is incredible. I'm so glad you and your spouse are living the way is right for you. It sounds like both of you are happier being your true selves, and your children are very lucky to have such wonderful parents who treat them with compassion and respect. You seem to have so much respect and compassion for all of your fellow human beings.

    I wish you the absolute best in your life, wherever it takes you, and wherever you take it.

  • Anonymous

    Masculinity by rejection of femininity. its something my husband and I struggled with.

  • http://trinalin.livejournal.com/ trinalin

    Thank you for sharing your story. It definitely gives me hope for the future. Good luck to you and your family!

  • http://imprintbyeileen.com Eileen Goddard

    I am feeling very inspired and deeply touched–thank you for sharing your family's journey. It is a privilege to know you and your family's story, and I wish you all so much happiness, strength, and joy!!

  • Paradoxymoron

    Another person coming from Jezebel, here. It's all been said before, but I still feel the need to comment: yours is a wonderful — though very bumpy, obviously — love story and I think it's amazing that the two of you found each other in the environment you both were raised in.

    You've gained a new reader. I hope everything continues to go well for your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13712045376060102538 Zoe Brain

    Hi Melissa

    You're not alone, you know. I admit, coming from such a straight-laced Fundamentalist background gave you some additional challenges, but you've coped admirably. I should give the obligatory compliments about your courage and honesty now, joining in the chorus, so please consider that done. You both deserve them, and it would not be Right for me to omit them.

    Now comes the rest of your life. Let's deal with the children first, the most important things. The evidence says they'll be fine. Ms Action's age is getting close to a tricky period, but past experience says that 5 and under is the ideal time for kids to cope with a transitioning parent.

    That's been my own experience, though my transition was a little different from the usual kind.

    A quick digression and lecture (sorry, I teach grad students at University, so it's a habit). You know that some people are born Intersex, yes? With bodies neither fully male nor fully female? There are hundreds of biological situations that can result in this, some genetic, others by anomalies in foetal environment, some just random.

    A very few kinds of these situations can result in an apparent natural change of sex. Usually from female-looking at birth to male-looking later. Which is great for the boys as it effectively cures Transsexuality, an interesting experience for those who are bi-gender, but a nightmare for the girls.

    See RE: SALLY (SPECIAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE) [2010] FamCA 237 for just such a case. A girl requesting permission from the Family Court of Australia to stop and reverse such a natural change.

    That example was of 5-alpha-reductase-2 deficiency (5ARD). 17-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-3 deficiency (17BHSD) has similar effects.

    3BHSD and a few other situations can occasionally cause a change in the other direction, sometimes quite late in life.

    A funny thing happened to me in 2005, at age 47, with a 3-year-old child… one most welcome, as I'd known I was female since age 10 at least, but inconvenient to say the least.

    We're still married and just as much in love as we ever were (though alas, neither of us are lesbian, or even Bi). Our son is doing famously. So your marriage, and love story, is in no danger.

    I'm not going to pry about your partner's medical situation. Transsexuality is very variable, there are degrees. Some require hormones. Some don't. Some require surgery. Some don't. Feel free to contact me on this privately, I can show you where to get information, and have some experience here.

    Her brain, like all women's, is feminised – as is yours. Which parts and to what degree vary. Some – those with a strongly feminised SPL (superior parietal lobule) require corrective surgery if transsexual or having had a mastectomy. Others can live with it.

    There's a lot on the science of sex and gender on this reference page, with URLs, if you wish to understand the biology of it.

    One thing your story has given me. Some hope. You see, the comments here have not been a foetid mass of hatred, ridicule, contempt, malice and spite "In Jesus Name". That is unusual. Unique even. Things are getting better.

  • Cici

    Hi Melissa, I too would like to add my thanks for writing your inspiring and marvelous story. I came across a website that might be of interest to you. It has some fun materials for kids about life. For example a coloring book titled "sometimes the spoon runs away with another spoon" http://benandbirdy.blogspot.com/2012/04/why-be-normal-when-you-could-be-happy.html

  • Anonymous

    it was not random!!!

  • Anonymous

    Yep, melissa is quite the gourmet chef!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15524091777851495830 Charli Brown

    Your story was very powerful and the love that you and your spouse share gives a jaded woman like me hope. I self-identify as queer and atheist, so please don't take me next sentence as a "come back to the fold" sort of gesture.

    This particular entry seemed very torn and conflicted with where you and your family could find a new spiritual home. And I wanted to share some information with you on that subject. Many UCCs (United Church of Christ) are Open and Affirming churches. I (yes, the atheist – raised atheist) attended a UCC frequently in my home town and I was moved by how loving the entire congregation was. And the pastor was a super cute butch, but that isn't at all the reason I went! (you believe me, right?!?!?)

    Anyway, if you'd like more info and are still interested in finding a new spiritual home for your family here is the link to the national UCC website that can help you find a church in your area. http://www.ucc.org/lgbt/

    Otherwise, I wish you and your family nothing but love. Be well and I'm sure to continue reading.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing!! This was amazing! You are both so brave. Your story…so well told…so inspiring! Best of luck to your whole family!

  • http://bloggingkills.wordpress.com/ bloggingkills

    I was linked to your story via this article (http://jezebel.com/5905780/what-happens-when-a-quiverfull-dad-becomes-a-woman), which was itself linked to me on Twitter. I've spent the past four and a half hours since doing nothing but reading through past entries and other things that you have linked (and another hour and a half writing this response).

    I want you to know that, in many ways, I have nothing in common with you. I have never been married, was not raised in a Christian family (much less a fundamentalist Christian family), have no children. I don't feel as though I was abused as a child, and I have never helped a friend through transition, much less a significant other/partner.

    But this doesn't mean I disagree with you or look down on you. In fact, I admire you and your spouse considerably for what the two of you have done for yourselves and for each other, and for having the courage and strength to be open and honest with each other and with your children—and even more so for being able to be open and honest with people outside the home.

    Your blog has brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions tonight. Part of that is because this is the first time I have ever learned about the experiences of someone growing up in a household like yours. Seeing the vast differences between our lives has been…I can't even really think of words to describe it. In particular, through reading through this journey and clicking through the links to your previous posts of other journeys that have led you here, all of the opinions about women, childbirth, and self-worth I have always taken for granted began to stick out. It was very jarring for me to realize that, at the time you wrote these posts, you were just then discovering things I had always thought people knew about or saw as obvious and either chose (consciously or not) to ignore, or were forced against their will to conform. Realizing just how much you have changed over such a short amount of time, how much dedication and energy you have put into making yourself better by *your* standards, has definitely been an affirming experience.

    The other part of the reason I've found myself having to gulp back tears as I read tonight is that despite the many things that make your situation unique, your writing style, and the things you choose to focus on in your writing, are things that most people can relate to in at least some way, if they try. Your posts about gender roles and stereotypes, about living with (and learning to break out of) low self-esteem, of positive rather than punitive parenting, could apply to nearly anyone. Even if someone is not a parent, or has never had low self-esteem, or has tried their best to break out of gender roles, reading about these things opens a new window to understanding, and people can use your insights and perspective to inform the way they think about other things they might take for granted.

    Earlier I listed our many differences, and when I first started reading your story, they were what stuck out. As I started learning more about you, though, I realized that however much we may be different, we also have a surprising amount in common. Like you, I am an eldest daughter who was often expected to take care of my siblings. While my parents were not Christian, we were raised with very specific expectations regarding our behavior and how we were to treat others according to their behavior (including LGBTQ people). My mother had definite anger management issues when she was raising us, some of which she still suffers from to this day.

    (continued in the next comment, I ran out of characters)

  • http://bloggingkills.wordpress.com/ bloggingkills

    (continued from previous comment)

    I have had problems with depression. I have had problems reconciling myself with the things I feel I'm expected to achieve. I have had problems living my life for the perceptions of others. I have been overly sensitive to criticism from significant others, which has often contributed to what may be a self-fulfilling cycle. I've been considered oversubmissive or codependent by men I've been with romantically. I've often also caught myself being startled or disbelieving when significant others acknowledge me for being right or making sense, as though that's not "allowed". From things I've picked up regarding the timeline of your story, I think we're even about the same age (I will be turning 27 in July).

    And, while I've never turned to any Christian denomination, I've always felt a deep need for and appreciation of faith in my life. I feel as though many people who may have gone through journeys similar to yours, at least in my experience, were either raised atheist/secular/agnostic or became so as a response to overly repressive religious upbringings. Because of that (I think), many of these people also seem to be extremely hostile towards Christianity and antagonistic towards religion or faith in general. Of course, there are exceptions, and even outside of these exceptions people seem to be understanding and accepting. In general though, I don't think that letting yourselves be who you are is inherently incompatible with being Christian.

    In this post, you say, "I cannot understand why a god would create such diversity in people and then demand that they all live the same life in the exact same manner," and I agree. In previous posts where you've mentioned questions you've had about Christianity, you've said similar things, and they make equal sense. I feel that if there is a God, the infinite diversity of humanity is a gift from God and not a curse that must be corrected. I feel that if God created diversity, it could only be to celebrate diversity, to have more personalities and facets and features to love and cherish. Perhaps it's the churches that are flawed when they try to interpret God's will. I remember you mentioning in other posts how widely churches can differ based on interpretation of the Bible (which has, in itself, gone through many layers of human interpretation over the centuries). Perhaps all of the restrictions and condemnations are excesses. Perhaps it is enough just to show love, compassion, and a desire to learn and understand; to celebrate God by celebrating the breadth of His creativity in the diversity of His creations. I have had no seminarial or other religious education; I'm just saying what makes sense to me. I realize that, in terms of written dogma of most Christian denominations, there is no place for my feelings on this matter. However, despite my mostly secular upbringing and lifestyle, I find a sort of comfort and warmth in the idea that if a Creator exists, he is like the one I described above.

    As I read your struggle with reconciling who you are with what you've always believed, and as I think about the strange and wonderful journey you and your Hunnie have gone through and still have ahead, I find myself still in awe at how two people who had no idea how much they could help each other and be wonderful for each other met, fell in love, and stayed together to discover the rest of their story. The fact that you found each other and trusted each other enough to arrive at this point, looking ahead towards the future, is the closest thing to a real-life miracle I have ever heard of. Whatever you end up deciding in regards to your questions on faith, I feel that you are truly blessed.

    Thank you for sharing your pain, your struggles, your love and your compassion with us. I wish nothing but all the best for you and your family.

    -M.

  • akazukin

    i was really moved reading this.
    lots of love to you and your family! :)

  • http://rant5k.blogspot.co.uk/ Rob

    At the risk of becoming an echo in the adorable-ness, thank you!

    I consider myself transgender, although I'm choosing not to transition (for a few reasons, but largely because it would be harder for me to look almost right and then see that one little thing that was wrong) and my dearest friends are a bisexual woman and her transgender fiancée.

    It's wonderful to see a family proving that the anti-family right wing are wrong about us all…

  • Anonymous

    I am so deeply and moved by your story, thank you for sharing your journey and that of your family with us. God brought you and your hunni together, his ways are not always obvious and he moves in ways that works with our own capacities and understanding. Jesus accepted everyone on their own terms, and as you continue to journey if you want you will find a church that truly serves in the ways of Jesus.

    Your children will grow up beautiful and wise and understanding and I think that you are an amazing spouse, partner and mom.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02363410058108479951 Sarah

    Thanks for telling your story. Sorry about all the rejection this has earned you. If it doesn't look like love, it has nothing to do with Jesus. Unfortunately, fundamentalism doesn't look much like love. I suppose that's what happens when you make an idol out of the text, rather than relying on the gospel and Jesus as your source. You might like this:http://gospelfutures.org/2012/02/27/why-story/

    Or not. I found it helpful. But anyway, I commend you for your loving response to your spouse, and for your openness in your journey. I don't understand the 'whys' behind the experience of being transgendered, but my lack of understanding does not in any way invalidate your spouse's experience. (The opposite attitude strikes me as terribly presumptuous). In any case, you are an inspiration and an encouragement to me – a feminist Jesus-follower. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09256290402234208505 Mel

    As a bisexual agnostic who grew up among fundamentalist Christians, I found a lot to empathize with in both of your stories. It warmed my heart to read these posts and I'm so glad you're both happy and free now. I myself am only just beginning to deal with the legacy of shame and repression that I inherited. So much better, so much freer, to learn that acceptance is good for you! I wish you and your spouse and your children the best.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16150946248209620925 RevBobBond

    I was directed to your blog by my niece on Facebook. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey. I am saddened that in all of your research you did not find or were not helped by Metropolitan Community Church. I am a pastor in the denomination and we have a strong history of ministry to those marginalized by their gender attraction and/or gender expression. I would encourage you to look for an MCC congregation in your area. You might also want to look for writings by Justin Tannis a F-M theologian who previously worked for our denomination. Also, look for writings by Julie Nemecek julienemecek.blogspot.com/ who is a M-F who worked at Spring Arbor University which is affiliated with the Free Methodist church. I hope and pray for all the best for you, your spouse, and your family.
    Rev. Bob Bond, bondr@tir.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16150946248209620925 RevBobBond

    I was directed to your blog by my niece from Facebook. I appreciate your sharing of your journey. You write very well, allowing us to comprehend your struggles and your joys in discovering how to live authentically. I am saddened that your research either did not direct you to Metropolitan Community Churches or you did not find anything of value there. The denomination seeks to minister to those marginalized by their gender attraction or gender expression. We go beyond accepting or affirming to being a denomination where the leadership primarily identifies as proudly queer and Christian. Justin Tannis, a F-M, and you might appreciate reading some of his works. I would also suggest you look at some writings from and about Julie Nemece, a M-F, former employee of Spring Arbor University, a college affiliated with Free Methodist Church. She and her wife had a very similar journey to you and your spouse. julienemecek.blogspot.com/ I hope and pray for all the best for you, your spouse, and your family.
    Rev. Bob Bond, intentional interim pastor, MCC Louisville, Louisville, KY USA

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03851014039766478403 mama kim

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story

  • Anonymous

    Second! I'm a christian in the UCC and I think your family is blessed and beloved by god. To me there is no contradiction at all between god's love and the love between you and your spouse. As the commenter said below, we are "open and affirming". Blessings on your journey!

  • Anonymous

    Your story is really inspiring, and it's important for you to have shared it so that others know they aren't alone. I hope you continue to receive positive and neutral feedback rather than hostility. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Brooke

    This series brought tears to my eyes by the end. I'm a 22-year-old transgirl, so constantly, I found myself nodding enthusiastically as I related to experiences in your spouse's life.

    This December, I will graduate college with a double-major degree, and I'm admittedly terrified of entering the real world. But at the same time, I'm more optimistic and excited than I have been in years, because I'll be entering that world living genuinely and authentically for the first time in my life. Transitioning, while a challenge and a struggle, has been the single best improvement to my happiness, confidence, and appreciation of existence in my life.

    Dee, you're an amazing woman, and I am honored to have read about you. I wish you the best for you, your spouse, and your family.

  • Ashley

    This is without question the most beautiful story of love and living authentically I've ever heard. Thank you for sharing. Best of luck to you and your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10408577140273866267 100×25

    This is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  • jamie

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Melissa. It is a beautiful story and I wish you, your spouse, and children all the luck and love in the world.

  • Anonymous

    That's a beautiful story. Good luck.

  • Anna

    What a beautiful and courageous love story. Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13010376884092545108 Daniel Singer

    Thank you for skillful writing and critical thinking. Thank you for being authentic and bravely sharing!

    Love and best wishes to your family from ours!
    (two gay former Mormons)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01767688721818379030 Aysa

    Hi!
    Firstly, I was directed to your blog by one of my closest friends, a transgendered m2f (T-girl) who I met through my spouse. My spouse is also a T-girl, and I am a bisexual cisgirl. We've been married seven years, and have a six year old daughter. I say this not to brag, but to let you know that I know how you feel about a lot of this.
    My spouse is in the midst of her transition, but is afraid to finish because she doesn't know how it will affect the legality of our marriage if she has her name changed. (If you know, contact me please? aysaskytower@gmail.com)
    In general, people don't understand… I am so glad to see the positive comments here. It makes me feel better about everything going on in my life.

    Thank you for having the courage to post this so candidly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00418961875537434920 michellemybelle

    i just want to say thank you for writing this. you are truly wonderful and inspiring.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. I cried a couple of times, and I'm glad for the happy ending — or rather beginning.

  • Caravelle

    Beautiful.

    It’s an unbelievable love story, a modern day fairy tale.
    Everyone's saying that, and it's so true ! Thank you again for sharing it with us. (I'm also inspired by your take on acceptance all the more now that I know more about the context…)

    I'll join the crowd in saying you should write a book. To be sure writing blog posts and writing a book are two very different things and you might not want to write a book, and if you did you might not want to write about the same subjects. All I'm saying is, if you wrote a book (a book of modern day fairytales ? :) ) I would buy it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01758280217840082486 Marsha

    Like so many others, I came to you via Jezebel. My only purpose in commenting is to wish you and your family a lifetime of love and happiness, learning and laughter.

  • Nerdiah

    "We don't know where we fit anymore"

    It's horrible suddenly having to scramble to find place to fit one's experience and thoughts in general into a coherent world-view. (It was the worst part of my own ex-Christian experience anyway.) Though, if I could be a little presumptuous? I don't know you in real life obviously, but I see you welcomed by the likes of Libby Anne and Incongruous Circumspection. It looks like a good fit for you, don't you think? Christianity hates more than enough people now for us to band together and form our own communities. I think with time these communities are going to develop their own philosophies, and based as they are on reality and authentic experiences, I think they will be the wellspring that replaces the half-truths and outright damaging lies that came before. So I not only do think you fit somewhere, I think your contribution there is important and will be valued (as the reaction to this series already shows).

  • http://bit.ly/l3NlxQ lifeintheshwa

    I wanted to just add my voice to the Christians (how that's a charged word!) who applaud you and your spouse and wish you a long and happy life together. Your story somewhat reminded me of another one I know, though there are obvious differences. If your spouse still feels the calling to be a minister she could find a community in the United Church of Canada if you decide to move north again. It's the church I grew up in, but it's also the only one I have found that focuses on the message of love in all its splendid forms and would be the one I would have picked on my own. It isn't without its problems but I am amazed by the community I have found there as an adult bringing my son.
    http://bit.ly/l3NlxQ

  • http://narcissa666.wordpress.com/ Narcissa

    As a transsexual woman-one who has recovered from being immersed in the evangelicals at one time-I read your story with tears streaming down my face. I know that it has not been an easy road for you to walk. But you are a wonderful woman to see your spouse for who she is and accept her. Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful story.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed! There are so many branches of Christianity who truly believe that God's love is for all people, and the UUs are a wonderful community to worship and explore in love and acceptance. Wherever you end up religiously, please don't let the fear and confusion of some taint your spiritual experience. It's about love, God is always about love.

  • Anonymous

    Melissa, Oh my gosh ! I selfishly hope you continue to blog because I want to see what the future holds for your wonderful family. You and your "Hunnie" are amazing. (The quotes are due to the non-standard spelling which I think is how Winnie the Pooh spells it which just makes me like you even more !) Good Luck. These years will probably be challenging as you all balance work, school and a young family. I am sending you good thoughts and hugs. Honestly, I want to say I send you much, much love, but I don't want to be weird because I don't really know you — I just know you through your blog. Oh, heck — sending you lots and lots of love from South Carolina ! Maria

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13712045376060102538 Zoe Brain

    Re: Trans Marriage:

    e-mail sent.

    See
    http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/transmarriage.pdf and
    http://www.glad.org/uploads/docs/publications/trans-legal-issues.pdf

    "There are no reported decisions invalidating a marriage of a transgender person who transitioned after entering into a lawful marriage. Invalidating such a marriage where both spouses wish to remain married is against public policy and seriously disadvantageous not just to the couple involved, but to the expectations of the community and society that surrounds them.
    However, recently there have been policy decisions made in immigration
    and Social Security where when applying for a spousal benefit the
    government officials have looked at the current genders listed on the couple’s birth certificates and used that to determine whether the marriage was a different-sex marriage (and thus entitled to federal benefits) or a same-sex marriage, and so not entitled to federal benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This is an area of the law which is evolving and so couples should consult an attorney if they have questions about their marriage being respected.

  • http://notinthepast.wordpress.com Ben

    I came here through Jezebel as well…your story is so beautiful and is such a welcome reminder of how full life can be once you stop lying to yourself.

  • Anonymous

    Gave up an hour of my four hours to sleep because I couldn't stop reading, and now I'm in tears with the rest of the lot. You and Dee inspire me! I wish you both the very best in life, and hope you'll always keep the faith that what you find inside yourself is the truest truth.

  • Anonymous

    "…it just was."

    Thank you for this. I have lost hope that the fundamentalist side of my large southern family will ever understand those three words.

    Internet hugs to you and your partner. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

    (another who came to your blog via jezebel)

  • http://judifilksign.livejournal.com/ judifilksign

    I wish you and your Hunnie all the joy and happiness together in your future together. God bless you both; I believe you are, and always have been in his heart and love. What an example you two are to love, and commitment, and faith. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.

  • Shelley Ionescu

    As the mother of a 17 yo transgender daughter, I found your story to be enlightening and uplifting. How lucky you both are!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02507657679160722486 Leah

    I am wearing this shirt right now! What's really 'terrific' in this story is the love and openness of a family supporting one another in becoming their authentic selves and pursuing their own path instead of one written for them by others, knowing that they are strong and safe enough to do this, even when it is scary and dangerous, because the people that really matter have their backs.

  • Anonymous

    I'm at a loss for words. This story is beautiful. It is a testament to you and Hunnie and the strength of your love for one another that you have come through this with family, marriage and sanity intact. The question one friend posed about "would you want your kids exposed to that" — yes, I would like to live near warm, loving families, with children or not, who value being true to themselves over keeping up appearances. "Normal" is only a setting on the washing machine. Be well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11652611315432308307 sen1013

    I just discovered your blog, and I was touched. I wanted to offer you some reassurance as someone who grew up in a very conservative community in Ohio in the 80s with lesbian moms. At times it was difficult, because we had to lie about who my second mom was. But my family was loving and strong, and as an adult, my moms are my best friends. And I didn't do so badly either. I am a scientist with a PhD from an Ivy league school I left Ohio when I was 18 for the east coast and being in a place where no one judges my family has been so freeing.
    I would be happy to answer any questions you might have about leaving the conservative Christian church or growing up with lesbian moms. senewell @ gmail.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17405376143819170556 sara

    I lInked here through Jezebel, too, and am so happy that you and your spouse have each other. My little guy has been saying he wants a daddy, and for a while my wife and I kept saying "well, you have two mamas. There are lots of kinds of families. ". Then yesterday I tried asking, Which daddy do you want? He named his godfather. I said, well, he's part if your family, and he's your god-dad. All was well. :). May your children feel that kind of love and support from your family and friends, even as they are fed and held by the beautiful circle of love you and your spouse have built.

  • http://ahumanstory.wordpress.com/ gaayathri

    Thank you very much for writing this. By sharing your story you have given hope to hundreds, proving that yes this life works, yes families can come in many forms, all that matters is that love and authenticity is present in them. I am sure you children will be all the better for you and your spouse living authentic lives with compassion for each other.

  • Anonymous

    This brought tears to my eyes. As a straight female with friends of all orientations, and friends who have been threatened and harmed because of those orientations, I say brava to you both for being so brave and sharing your incredible story. Thank you for letting me read it. May your whole family continue to experience such love and happiness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11935123155330560692 Anth

    Thanks for sharing your story. You've given me a lot to think about.

  • Anonymous

    What an amazing story! Your children are fortunate to have two parents who love each other and who love each one of them – and who will be accepting of who they are as they grow up. You are unbelievably brave and strong for sharing this story with the world and I wish you and your family all the best!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01767688721818379030 Aysa

    Thank You! I have contacted several lawyers, but never got any replies. I suppose I will try again, especially since I currently receive SSD benefits, which my spouse gets a stipend from.

    Thanks again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06410682651072046347 TwisterB

    I had tears in my eyes. It is so amazing that you two, after 7 years, truly know each other, and love each other deeply.

    The journey to this point has been hard, and you will always face struggles, but this story to me is an absolute triumph. I am so happy for both of you.

  • https://www.facebook.com/littledragyn Rae

    Melissa,

    I have a slightly different take on everything I've read here than that which I've seen from other posters leaving comments.

    I agree with the vast majority – your story is amazing. It is full of hope and love and moments of perfect beauty, and I enjoyed reading every line.

    But what I find even more striking and comment worthy are, in fact, the comments that have been left for you.

    I am an agnostic bisexual woman happily married for 10 years this coming Friday to a bisexual man. So yes, very LGBTQ-friendly here. I've been advocating for LGBTQ equality since I attended my first Pride parade in Chicago when I was 14. I'll be 41 later this month. In that time, I've had countless negative experiences with individuals who identify as 'religious.' Those experiences can turn the brightest heart black and heavy after a while… and on more than one occasion I've found my own thoughts towards those who identify as religious to be in complete conflict with everything else I believe and hold true.

    But I have to say to you, and especially to your commentators – sitting here reading these comments has done more to heal my own prejudices against "people of faith" than anything else ever has. I see people walking the talk I believe Jesus exemplified. I hear the loving grace in their words and their intentions. I see faith that is rooted in love, not dogma or doctrine or the dictates of man on behalf of a god created in THEIR image.

    I find it humbling. I find it uplifting. I find it gives me hope. And I find it beautiful.

    Thank you for creating a space where I could see and experience that… and thank you to the commentators for sharing their light in support of you and your beloved spouse and children.

    I wish you all love and joy… and above all, peace.

  • Stasha

    Wow, just wow. SO much props to you for not only going through such a process with such love and grace, but to have the skill and focus to share it as well.

    What a great testament to the belief that the best relationships don't just happen, but are the result of hard work, open communication, respect and trust.

    What lucky children you have, to grow up in such a loving and open home.

  • http://blondybrunette.tumblr.com/ brunette

    My lovely wife and I (hubby) are probably on a similar journey. I say probably because I just started therapy. She's known for many years about my feelings and has been great. The progression has been slow, but steady. We have young kids and have struggled with our faith, fundamentalist too back then. Your story brought tears to my eyes, the striking similarities. godspeed.

  • Anonymous

    I am in awe of your strength – I wish you and your family all the best. Know that there are people all over who support you, and others in your position, along your journey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00148504542232844586 risa bear

    My family went through this. I transitioned at work, with three hundred co-workers all cheering me on but one. His loss. I'm now one of two moms of four grown kids and have three amazing granddaughters. And Beloved and I are still together, after thirty-five terrific years. Here's to you, Melissa!

  • http://phoenixandolivebranch.wordpress.com Sierra

    I am so happy for both of you. You rock!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13547153594715433846 Liz M

    I wish Houston was your new city because I'd love to hang out with you :)

    Much peace and love going into the future. You two are truly lucky to have found each other.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13547153594715433846 Liz M

    Wow, that's really moving- really encouraging, and helps me to feel a little less sad about the state of society.

  • Anonymous

    What an incredible story! I wish you much happiness in your new city.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10699897524927402018 Rebecca

    I am so glad I followed this link. I am so glad you have told your (and your family's) story. I have a lot of my own struggles with religion separate from my faith – in that my relationship with God doesn't always "fit" what is described in religion (Christianity) but I don't believe that makes it any less valid. I find God revealing real truths to me when I am listening only to God and no one else. It took stepping away from the church I was raised in to experience this though and I still struggle with wanting to reconcile the place I built my faith and how I will incorporate that into my child's life. I really enjoyed reading this and will be reading more. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marissa

    Your beautiful story has moved me so much, I'm literally in tears in my office. Thank you for sharing. I wish your family health and happiness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00492214010809335045 Genevieve

    Melissa,

    I just wanted you to know you're not alone in such a journey. I have been transitioning for the past two years, and only just went full time recently. My father is Mormon, and my wife and I struggled with many of the same issues and questions your family did, although our own religious beliefs (atheist and pagan) had nothing to say on the matter. We both have obsessed over wat effect this will have on our three cildren (9,6, and 2). While such stories are rare, what struck me was that your reasons for remaining in the marriage were startlingly similar to those of my spouse. I sincerely hope you and your family find peace and happiness on the path you're on.

    -Brynn

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for giving me hope. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00510264786638319160 Karrie

    This is a very thought-provoking BRUTIFUL story, and I learned a lot. Perhaps the personal story will promote tolerance among people who have never read a first-hand account like this before. I wish you and your family every happiness! =-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00510264786638319160 Karrie

    This is a very thought-provoking essay. I hope it will promote tolerance among people who perhaps have never read a first person account. Sharing it on FB. Sending positive thoughts your way!

  • http://greeneyed.livejournal.com/ greeneyed

    This is honestly one of the most positive things I've read recently, I swear I smiled like an idiot at my screen after I had read your conclusion.

    Both of you are women hurt by a fundamentalist patriarchal society and reading your progress and your happy "beginning" (ha, repeating words of someone above) makes me all hopeful and warm inside (gosh, I'm a sap…). You write wonderfully and are able to stir lots of feelings in your readers, I'd honestly buy your book. I need to read more of your blog now ;) .

    I have no similar experiences to share and when I've been a teen I thought Catholic Poland and my hometown were the Worst. Then internet happened and then I moved away and seen more of the world and became horrified. Your story and the responses are so optimistic that hey, maybe there's hope for all those manipulative religions out there and maybe one day women will have it better? I doubt that it'll happen in my lifetime, but…

    Okay, done rambling, best luck to your family :) .

  • http://gossettfamily.wordpress.com/ gossettfamily

    I just read this series and I want to say thank you for being open and so brave! It is such an amazing story. I can understand your frustrations with "church people" and not knowing where you fit in. But I just want to say, as a Christian who is very "liberal" and accepting, that there are some of us out here, and I feel like you shouldn't give up looking for God in this world. Good luck!

  • http://mrarr0gant.wordpress.com/ mrarr0gant

    I read everything you have written and I am definitely disappointed in the ending. I was hoping to read something in the conclusion similar to, "God is bigger than our personal feelings," but obviously that isn't so. I see that you and your husband both tried hard to be faithful to God, but I can see you took a not so wise approach. It's not about about trying harder to be faithful to God, but trusting more. By trusting, I mean trusting that God does have plans to further you and not harm you. Many people tend to lose sight of this, especially when they wonder how long they will have to "struggle". How much can God ask of us? There's no limit to what God can ask of us. If there was a limit, then it wouldn't be faith.

    Please don't have the thought process of, "How does God fit into my life?" That is definitely not the question to be asking. If God is God to you, then you wouldn't be trying to fit Him into your life, but instead He would be king of your life.

    Christopher Yuan
    http://www.youtube.com/user/christopheryuan

    This is the sermon he presented at my church.
    http://www.harvest-community.org/podcast/?p=episode&name;=2011-09-18_hcc_2011918_running_the_race.mp3
    I believe one of the best things he said was, "Change is not the absence of struggles, but change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11236436839922623187 Jamie C.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • http://mrarr0gant.wordpress.com/ mrarr0gant

    I read every single word of every single part. It was interesting to read hear your testimony as well as your husband's. I must say in the end I was disappointed, because in your conclusion there was no, "God is bigger than my personal feelings," or anything similar to that. It was sad to see you two not persevere after so many years of struggling. You two tried so hard to be more faithful to God, but it's not about trying harder, it's about TRUSTING more. By trusting more, I mean trusting that God has plans to further and prosper you two and not harm you two. If God was truly God to you, then He would king over your life. If He was king over your life, then you would know the answer to this question, "What is there that God cannot ask of you?" The answer is there is nothing and no limit to what God can ask of you. Look at Abraham in the Bible.

    I do commend you two for struggling as long as y'all did, because one cannot control how they feel, but they can control what they do. To be honest regardless of being saved, one will always struggle with sin, but do you fight it? Do you cling to the Rock of your salvation? If you stumble and fall, do you get back up with a repenting heart? One must continue to keep trying to fight the good fight and trust God more and more if they want to truly grow.

    You should check out Christopher Yuan. Here's his youtube and you'll see variations of his testimony.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/christopheryuan

    Here's the sermon/testimony he presented at my church.
    http://www.harvest-community.org/podcast/?p=episode&name;=2011-09-18_hcc_2011918_running_the_race.mp3
    I believe one of the best things he said was, "Change is not the absence of struggles, but change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles."

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. As a young trans and genderqueer person with an intersexed and trans spouse, I have had a really hard time finding parental narratives that I can identify with, and I have a lot of fear of not even being allowed to get pregnant (like I want to), let alone allowed custody of children. A lot of my fears about being a trans parent are based in ignorance, so thank you for being brave. I feel less alone, and you telling your family's story has reminded me of why it is so important to talk about my life and my experiences: because somewhere, there might be someone else, someone who is just starting on their journey or someone who feels alone, who might need to read my story.

    *hugs* Thank you for being so brave. Because it is brave, talking about your own life to anyone, even strangers you never see. I am a new reader, but I will be here now. My spouse started in much the same insular, isolated Christian upbringing (though far more abusive), and it's been a struggle for me to understand that part of his life, since I was raised with a purposeful lack of any kind of belief system, despite the prejudices and moral disapproval I also faced.

    Again, thank you. Thank you so much.

    -Bee

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00673705603217597036 Cynthia

    That was such a beautiful story. Thank you for being so raw and truthful with your journey I for one have been enlightened. Take a bow ladies you both deserve it!

  • Whitney

    You are amazing for sharing this so beautifully. I'm glad that you two have found such a place of peace to start transition from! I love it when people can take the tough path they have been given (no offense – I imagine you might agree that while worthwhile it's not easy!) and navigate it so gracefully and grow as people – your compassion towards others is something I wish to emulate. I belong to an Episcopal church where the minister is a lesbian, it's great and friendly; you might want to check out an Episcopal (or Anglican, I guess, if you're in Canada?) church near you. I feel as though God gave you and your spouse a great gift in each other, what a love story!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00667970838510403909 Samantha S

    Your children are amazing blessed for having such awesome, loving, accepting parts. Best wishes; the world could use more people like you and your spouse.

  • Anonymous

    I read a book from the 1800's that it was called "The Mission Statement of Women" … in this book, it clearly defined and said that boys and girls had to be raised a certain way – if you did not raise them this way, you would twist the sexes – btw this is a Catholic Book.

    Your life is clear example of the twisting of the sexes – you are a man and your "husband" is a woman – you were raised in an institutionalized setting – your husband was raised by an overbearing mother who coddled him.

    Since the 1960's it is very clear to see how this process has taken place –women are butches to say the least and men are effeminate.

    You by accepting this, allowed your husband to live his effeminacy to the max.

    If you once believed in God, then you have to understand that it is very clear in the bible that men who act effeminate will be condemned and visa versa.

    You write this stuff so people can see that you are "good, honest" people who had no other choice – but all you are doing is encouraging a nation to "come out of the closet" and they will, because like I said, the sexes have been twisted.

    I will be copying this and sharing it with others so that I can show them – how the Church ALWAYS, knew what she was talking about.

    • Alicia

      And I read a book called History of Sexuality (spoiler: surprisingly devoid of sex), which made WAAAY more sense than whatever you’re saying here.

      I’ve also read the (entire) Bible (more than once) and believed in God and been a Christian, and there’s no portion of Scripture that mentions that “men who act effeminate will be condemned.” I can only assume that’s why you cite no Scripture verses at all in what amounts to a rambling, bizarre series of non-sequitur comments here, and instead just insist that we “have to understand that it is very clear.”

      Well, no. We don’t have to understand, and you haven’t made anything clear. As far as I can tell, your main concern is that everyone who you think is a woman should continue to act the way you think women should act, and everyone you think is a man should continue to act the way you think men should act…but you don’t even explain what that means, or where it was stated (again, in Scripture) that your opinions on those things are identical to God’s. I get that it’s scary to explain what you’re basing your opinion on when it’s based on the rapidly eroding bedrock of unacknowledged privilege, but you could at least *try*.

      But whatever. If you’d like to spend your life being God’s Gender Police, I guess no one can stop you. I’d just like to be the fly on the wall when God asks you why you wasted your life that way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Well well well, my first real hater comment since I started moderating. I wasn't sure whether or not to publish, your comment really has no point. But the fact that you are citing random books published 200 years ago as your source was just to funny not to share.

  • Anonymous

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. I wish you and your family all the best, and hope your loving example will open up more hearts and minds.

  • Shayna

    Well, I'd like to provide a counterpoint to Mr/Ms. Anonymous hater. I was a liberal/progressive until shortly before I graduated high school. Now I am a liberal, progressive Christian. As such, I have to say how perfect it is that God would bring together two people with the secrets you had. That you two could make this journey together, help each other heal together, have a happy and honest life together is absolutely beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    If anyone ever questions me on love, compassion and acceptance, I'm going to reference your blog and share your story. Beautiful, with an ending just as much as a beginning. Best wishes to you and your family!

  • http://angelamermaid.blogspot.com Angelamermaid

    I just read all of your lovely story in one gulp. I have recently discovered a high school classmate is transitioning – this is giving me more insight into what she's going through. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Anonymous

    Hi! I just want to say that the unconditional love that you and your wife have for each other is awe-inspiring. I`m so happy that you and her seem healthy for the most part. What you guys have gone through is the type of thing that destroys people.

    I also just want you to know that religion as we know it is a man-made thing. Maybe that will help you in your struggles.

    Thank you so much for your story.

  • http://cflute.livejournal.com/ cflute

    You and Dee are very special people, possessed of extraordinary courage and integrity. I salute you both, and am delighted that you have come through such an arduous journey as more authentic and loving women, and in fact able to be more deeply committed than before. You are truly inspirational. I wish you and your family all the best.

  • Chiara Castelnuovo-McKenzie

    Thank you for sharing your lovely story. A friend pointed my in this direction, knowing I'd have an interest for obvious reasons- I'm a straight trans woman with a very different history- a young transitioner oh so many years back at 15 (it'll be forty years ago this year, indeed!) with all my experience of marriage and sexual relationships coming after surgery at 21 just after finishing uni. Fwiw, I'm a Quaker and there's no doubt that my faith guided me to where I needed to be.

    Ignore the haters- they aren't worth your time and energy. They simply show their ignorance, hate and prejudice.

  • http://www.livewellwithcheryl.com Cheryl Chamberlain Duwe

    I am so glad to have found your story. I grew up in ATI culture (Bill Gothard's kindgom) and over the last two years have been exploring my own same-sex attraction. While processing my recovery from all of the spiritual abuse, I've been wondering where the other LGBTQ voices were in that culture. I'm so glad you've created a life that works for you. "Permission to Live" is a great way to express what a lot of us need to discover for ourselves. Thanks for shining your light so brightly!

  • http://greeneyed.livejournal.com/ greeneyed

    Mmm … 19th century, wasn't it when they randomly decided what's a woman's place? I remember skimming through this book of yours it was hilarious, I prefer Jane Austen to take care of satire thank you very much.

    Where were you brought up? What Bible did you read? Are you aware that in Catholicism the Old Testament doesn't apply?

    I'm not riling you up, I'm off episcopalian European Catholicism and I see massive differences.

    @Melissa: I can see what you mean and I'm sorry to replying to a hater, but I'm genuinely curious :( . This book was criticised even by scholars of the time, was shared in humour sections in newspapers. I have it mentioned in my newspaper history book from my media course somewhere.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04444667823837689842 Erin

    Just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful family and partnership with all of us.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing and thank you for writing it. It has helped many I am sure who have the same struggles.
    I hope your life is wonderful with your spouse.

  • Anonymous

    Oh I agree! To me this was a story of soulmates who did exactly everything right <3 Thank you for sharing Melissa, your story was inspiring and beautiful and very touching. Best of luck to you and your family {{hugs}}

  • Jocinda

    I know theres already 200 comments here, but I had to add my opinion of God. My common response to people who state the God is against GLBTQ or the like is to simply point out that the God I Love would never tell me who else I can Love. No God would turn down a little less hate in the world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06338913227978409461 Bugeyedmonster2

    1} I am going to 'follow' your blog.

    2} is it okay if I post links to the first part of y'all's story on my FB, LJ and Blogger? I have some GLBTQ friends on my LJ list and… well, I thought I'd pass it along if it was okay with you.

  • Anonymous

    I realize that the last bit of my comment wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be. What I meant to say is that while religion is a man-made thing, things can exist outside of human institutions.

    Best of luck to you and your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06970040936630236032 Karyn

    The first thing that came to my mind as I reached the end of this post, and of this wonderful series, was to suggest that you check out the Unitarian Universalists. I see several people already beat me to it! :-D Each congregation has its own personality and feel, as with any community or group, but they are united by a spirit of open-minded inquiry. In a nutshell, the UU's believe that in the spiritual life, the journey IS the destination. They are less about telling you what to believe and more about asking you to figure out for yourself what YOU truly believe. Check them out, and thank you for posting your story and your spouse's. Best to both of you!

  • Maria

    Thank you for sharing your journey, I also wanted to mention that you are a perfect example of a true christian from what I can see and I believe that because you are the persons that you are, the caring, loving, understanding, compassionate people that you are the Lord blessed you and will continue to do so. My belief is that Faith doesn't fit in a book it fits in your heart and soul and it just so happens that not all hearts are the same. Madam you were blessed when you met your spouse, you were blessed with true love and a loving wonderful family. Sadly that is something that some people never experience in their lifetime. You are fortunate. Many wonderful blesssing for you and yours, that is my wish.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful and touching story. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Melissa

    Bugeyedmonster2- Thanks! No problem with sharing, especially if it can be an encouragement to others.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13761532881238503964 Jess

    I just read through your entire series and all I can say is Wow. You and your spouse are amazing people – her to trust you with this secret she'd been suppressing for much of her life, despite the very justified fear that you would reject her, and YOU for approaching the whole situation with an open heart and mind and choosing to educate yourself rather than react with fear and hatred. Would that more people were like you.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the world. You are doing GOOD THINGS and the world is better of for you being here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13479276387812762076 Philosophy

    This is so very beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    And yes, there *are* many Christians out there who *will* love and accept you for who you are! Have you thought about the Episcopal Church? My partner is an Episcopal priest and he and his congregation would certainly welcome you with open arms. :)

  • Anonymous

    I'm crying happy tears for you and your spouse. You're such loving people. All the best to you.

  • Anonymous

    I am so happy that you and your spouse have such love for each other, and I am amazed that God brought you together in such a wonderful way. I assure you that the two of you would be welcome in my Episcopal parish. May God surround you with love and guide you on your journey.

  • http://hall-of-rage.dreamwidth.org/ hall-of-rage

    Don't be sad. Yes, there is some pain for queer women, and a lot for trans women. I am beginning my struggle to make society better for trans women, so believe me I know–though you're right, most people don't know all the terrible things society does. But the wonderful thing about authenticity, about being one's true self, is that life tastes so much better. Even if there's bitterness, fear, pain, violence, death, the taste of life is worth it.

    Thanks Melissa, this story is wonderful.

  • Elizabeth

    I came to your blog purposely today for the first time, after reading a recommendation of it posted to the message boards at the Gay Christian Network. It has been tremendously heartwrenching and heartwarming to read all nine parts devoted to your and your spouse's journeys. I want to affirm what at least one commenter suggested: there is definitely room for you both and for your children in The Episcopal Church. Not all parishes are LGBTQ affirming (yet!), but many are. Check online directories of affirming congregations, or visit a particular parish's website, where an indication is often posted. May you all be blessed, all the days of your lives.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04235412875651194788 ~Heidi~

    I followed your column on No Longer Quivering over to your blog and read the story start to finish. I am no longer a believer either, but your story makes me wonder … certainly there seems to be a Purpose (with a capital P) in the two of you meeting and being placed in each other's lives. Your attraction to women, and your husband's desire to be one, are a modern-day love story.

    … as a former fundamentalist, bi-female in a non-traditional marriage myself, I have learned to be thankful for the happiness to be found in life when you let go of how things are "supposed" to be and just live. You obviously have discovered this "secret" as well. Congrats to you and your family, and good luck.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04235412875651194788 ~Heidi~

    @mrarr0gant, your comment is so contradictory. I don't think you understand what you wrote.

    You say that it's not about trying harder to be faithful to God, but trusting more.

    Don't you think that is exactly what this couple did? They trusted that the way they ARE is exactly how they are supposed to be. And they are living that truth. To me, that is the ultimate in faith — believing that you are whole and perfect as you were created, rather than how your church thinks you should appear to have been created. In my opinion, the people who lacked true faith in this story, are the haters who comment here and refuse to remove the log from their own eyes before they bitch about the splinter in the eyes of others, and especially the church that shunned them.

  • Anonymous

    You should get out more. It must be awfully stuffy in that box.

  • Anonymous

    If you wish to continue being Christian, have you considered the Episcopal church? The silver lining in the recent troubles is it's much easier to find out if a parish will be a good fit for you. I find some of this stuff you were raised with confusing, I was never raised to think homosexuality or transgendering to be a sin, my church believed you have to find your own way- they will help, but your path is yours to find.

  • Anonymous

    Marvelous walk together! Thank you for sharing. One of the most powerful verses to me in my walk as a woman born defective as your Hunnie was is 1Samuel 16:7. "man looks at the physical appearance but God looks at our heart!".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05524593142290489958 laura k

    Such a beautiful story, and beautifully told! Congratulations to you and your partner. Wishing you continued happiness on your journey.

  • Anonymous

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org Becca

    Fabulous story!! I'm so happy you have come to a place in your lives where you are happy and comfortable. I think that in a new city, having the public see you as a lesbian couple and not needing to know that your spouse has a male body, you will have much more freedom.

    Like some other commenters, I see this as a wonderful example of God bringing together, through unlikely circumstances, two people who really need each other!

    If you ever visit Pittsburgh, I hope you'll check out my Episcopal church, where GLBT people fit right in and we're very liberal yet enjoy traditional liturgy very similar to a Catholic service. You've mentioned being drawn to Catholicism, and I was too after a year of Catholic school because the rituals seemed so meaningful to me, but I could not tolerate their policies about women and reproduction. The Episcopal Church is much more flexible. A while back I posted my opinion of homosexuality in twelve words, and I would say this is an opinion shared by everyone in my parish.

    Ms Action said, “Dee is kind of like the dad in our family, she’s awesome.”
    It sounds like your kids are adjusting very well! I'm so glad. I wish all of you ongoing happiness and adventures in your new home!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15057237447008958156 LiturgyGeek

    (I tried to post this a moment ago but it didn't post, so I apologize for the possible double posting)

    Thank you so much for what you have shared in this series. You were amazingly open and vulnerable about the deepest things in your lives and for that I thank you. You are truly a blessing to the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    And since I don't know you, I hope you will not take the following as an unspeakable liberty on my part: IF, if if if faith or being a part of a church community becomes important to you again, please know that there are many UCC congregations who welcome LGBTQ persons and families completely. The congregation I am privileged to serve is one such church. (We're also not big on penal substitutionary atonement, either …. but that's another conversation.)

    If I have overstepped in any way, please accept my apology. I can only imagine the pain you have experienced and I would never wish to add to that. You are truly a blessing and I am so grateful I found and read about your story. May you and your Hunnie continue to be a blessing to each other, to your children, and to the world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14836939309761284307 Ms. MPSM

    You are amazing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02963330408768432275 ash11888

    I had a friend link this to their Twitter and decided to read it this morning. WOW. I have been moved to tears for several reasons. You are a very courageous woman and so is your spouse. I personally have struggled for years to accept myself and sexuality. And I still haven't completely yet. I am glad to have read this series. It brings courage and hope to me.

    Thank you for writing this.

    I hope to share this with someone special in my life to help them find peace within themselves. They are only starting to accept that they can be different and have only done so with my telling them it's okay.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I can't say it enough. I don't normally cry, but I can't stop. If I was able to give you and your Hunnie a hug, it would be a big, long-lasting one.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00612950889549668702 shaed

    She and her wife figured out that living authentically wasn't sin. Deal with it. If they find faith again, it won't be yours.

  • Anonymous

    You're brave.

  • Anonymous

    I'm an European net surfer, happy to make your acquintance. I simply wanted to let you know that I somehow tripped over a blog site link and ended up here, completely without knowledge as of how the series would go or even what it was about, not intending at all to even read the first part through. But your style of writing got me hooked. I was surprised to see where this was going – as it stands, I am a transsexual man who started his journey at the same time with your spouse. My story was very similar to yours and hers, which surprised me considering how different our backgrounds were. I was a Christian from a non-religious household, but my faith had to adapt as I explored my sexuality, morals and finally my gender identity. Today, I'm overcoming depression that has lasted me literally half of my life, and my beliefs… have abandoned molds entirely. I am more of a Buddhist today, but I still hold faith in God, just not any precise pre-filtered onesided view of Him. I try to seek the common truth in religions, because I think that if there is a god, then that god is everywhere, not reserved for a single people but shared for us all. It has made life more sensible, to put it so, and relieved me from guilt pushed upon me by people who refuse to follow their own ideals.

    Your story, while similar to mine, also gave me hope in the manner it was so very different. I shared the link with others in a small community often overrun with fear and desperation to possibly bring hope and light into their struggles. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • http://unchainedfaith.com/ amyunchained

    I found this in a link from another blog, and I just finished reading about your amazing journey. What an inspiring story. It also sounds like through this, you've been wrestling with a lot of the same questions I have in the church (I am an ally to several LGBT friends/family). Your story has given me renewed hope and faith. After reading that, how could I not believe in God, when so much love exists in this world? Thank you for sharing this part of yourself with the world.

  • http://www.andrewgubb.com Sophia

    I got your reply to my email today and thought to check if the last post in this series was up yet.

    It's so very beautiful. You have written such a lovely series.

    I don't have much more to say. :)

    Sophia

  • http://genderandsexualityawareness.tumblr.com/ Cody Tedford

    Your story is beautiful. =)

  • Samizdata

    I just want to say Yay for you and it is awesome you could find and keep love in today's world.

  • Juliana

    You and your spouse are beautiful Human beings, and I am so glad to know that you two were able to overcome so much struggle together. This was an incredibly powerful story. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15451486801939410802 melbojudoka

    Inspiring. How lucky you are to have found each other, and that your love for each other carried you through difficult times. I was particularly touched to see how well your children accepted things. I'm an atheist myself, but I think you have a thing or two to teach others about what true Christianity really means, instead of the very narrow spectrum of "acceptable normality" which seems to be taught in many churches these days. I wish you health, happiness and good fortune, although seeing how well you have adapted and overcome, you probably won't need them!

  • http://taimatsu.livejournal.com/ taimatsu

    Your story is amazing, touching and inspiring. Congratulations on reaching a situation which is so much better for your family, and best wishes for a happy, safe and fulfilling future for you all. As a bisexual woman with a religious upbringing and a lot of confusion about where I now fit in, I will be interested to see where things take you next.

  • Heather R

    God has given each and every one of us such beautiful gifts, by making us all a little different. When I read your blog, I can imagine just what special people you and your Hunnie are.
    By speaking out about your journey you are making life better for others. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  • http://coryschoollandphotography.com Cory S

    What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Blessings to your family :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12937704236275533865 Wolfers

    Thank you very much for sharing your story. I don't have transgender friends (no that I try to find), but I'm comfortable in the GLBT community much as I can, while keeping to myself in this small city. I'm in a minority, so that's harder, since there's TME (too many eyes).

    When I saw your comments, "I really have to wonder why society feels the need to push such extreme gender roles and images. Why can’t people just be who they are and use their gifts and talents accordingly? Unfortunately our society still shames and even shuns people who don’t fully conform to gender roles, and I believe this limits so much opportunity for people to discover what they are good at and what they enjoy. I am looking forward to learning things I never allowed myself to consider because of my gender."

    You nailed it beautifully. I had grown up as a tomboy despite family trying hard to keep me a girl (imagine over-doing my bedroom in pink, literally with closet doors, bookshelves and basically everything except books and stuffed animals!) Like you, I'm pretty handy with tools. However going through adulthood to almost 40's, people kept asking me when I'd ever get married, when I'd have children, "to settle down as you should as God made you." A bit twist on that, since I had my uterus removed (cancerous tumor) some months ago, people had stopped asking me…. goes having no uterus mean I'm no longer a woman? Says a lot for the society.

    On the other hand, being open about my bisexuality among LGBT community, I find mostly, I'm not welcome…on the basis of being 'indecisive about my sexuality'. Lesbians say they worry about what if they date a bisexual, who may cheat on them with a straight person..(never mind that straight do cheat on other straights, lesbians cheat on each other, same with gays)…You get the picture- so at this time, to be frank, I'm not sure where I am, but I DO know I'm a bisexual, and I'm comfortable with that aspect of me.

    Reading your story is partially my story as well, and it helps me know I'm not alone.

    Thank you.

  • https://openid.aol.com/opaque/a9845c98-a47d-11e1-90f6-000bcdcb2996 a9845c98-a47d-11e1-90f6-000bcdcb2996

    I agree on the UU and especially the Episcopalian Church. My parents are part of an awesome Episcopalian Church here in NC, and the Bishop is the most welcoming, awesome religious person EVER. When they were gearing up for our recent (and disasterous) vote on Amendment One (that No-Gays-In-Our-Constitution amendment) my mom told me that the bishop had taken the time to specifically mention it, to remind his flock to vote NO NO NO, and the reasons why denying basic human rights to anyone was wrong, morally and theologically. It warmed my heart to hear it. Plus, Episcopalian is Catholic-Lite, so a lot of the rituals and patterns of worship remain. It might be a comfortable fit and a way to keep in a church community for you and your family.

    Also, lol at Pagan Me talking up a church to someone.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am curious as to if you personally realised your sin and how only God could save you (before this story), and came to Him, and saw Him work in your life. Or did you follow what you were taught because you felt you should?
    I cannot judge your situation, and I do not mean to condemn. I came from a background where I was raised to be a quiverful mother at home and not work. I left home, got a job, got a car, got married.
    I'm now even more sure of God and that He exists. He has healed my friend of cancer, the doctor could find nothing!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15702377314415204841 Heather

    Beautiful story, and really inspirational. I'm transgender, and this really gives me hope that things will get better. :) Good luck to you and your family <3

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12287549500534200901 Amanda Chronister

    I am seriously touched by your story. I think, that if you wrote it all out as a memoir, you could be published. I would buy that book.

  • http://victoriamanning.wordpress.com/ victoriamanning

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. This was heartwarming, more than anything I have read in a really long time. In response to a your questions about religion, if I were in your shoes, I would learn more about Wicca. I know that you come from a strongly Christian background, but the love and emotion that Wicca imparts is intense. There are no decrees on what is acceptable, there is no hate – understanding and acceptance of who you are is one of the best things about that religion. I suggest doing some research on the non-magical religious practices of Wicca (you know, the non-Witch stuff), because Wicca is about worshiping ourselves, the Goddess and the God, and everything around us as Divine. I hope this is not offensive to you, it is just a concept of a much more accepting and loving religious base.

    Peace, Love and Light to you and your brave spouse.

  • Anonymous

    I read this entire series. I haven't a clue why, but I did. Probably because I once "knew" you and was curious to read what I had heard about from others.

    I am deeply saddened by this news. The news explains many things I often questioned, but is disturbing to me.

    It makes me so sad that in a way I once was "accepting" this lifestyle in a roundabout way. It also makes me sad knowing that you let this go on for quite some time before removing yourself from the church in which your husband was ministering to. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing that there was a congregation of people who were being led by a man who was a false preacher.

    How sad it is that Satan has captured you both and along with you, your kids.

    • Lisa

      There are no perfect preachers, no perfect pastors. No pastor lays out every aspect of their personal life from the pulpit. Nevertheless, God’s truth can be told and received in all kinds of ways, despite any good or not-so-good intentions of the mouthpiece that is speaking words of God.

    • http://glitchygirl.tumblr.com/ Glitch

      Anonymous…. it’s ironic. You posted your response on my 28th birthday. Also the day I could no longer continue living the lie I’d kept up for so long.

      I find it almost comedic that you can say Satan captured both Melissa and her kids. Almost as much as I find it funny that you, nothing else but another human being… created by God but not God, can pretend to know or JUDGE another human being! Last I checked my friend, judgement is only reserved for God.

      This being said, I know I am not perfect. Heck even right now I am quite frustrated and perhaps even angry at you for your hypocrisy. Even though I realize moments later that it is simply out of ignorance that you say this stuff. And it frustrates me how something as simple can drive me to lose my center.

      With that in mind I ask you honestly. Who are *you* to judge what live Melissa and her wife now live? Both of whom have lived their lives attempting to give ALL that they could to serving God. Going so far as to serve in ways that many of us would honestly feel no inclination to. Devoting their lives to the tasks which they felt glorified God without any consideration about what would make them happy. They who are the same as you and I… and the next person; beings created and cherished so much that God came to this earth and died for these lovely people in the exact fashion that he also died for you and I.

      I also ask you, how can you prove that this is not the way they were meant to live? Please provide a shred of proof. Surely it must exist if you have the knowledge of what’s in their hearts. Surely you can see what “truth” lies beyond the sacrifices that they made with the intentions of honoring God.

      My thinking, and perhaps wrongful assumption is that you cannot. However, if you indeed cannot I ask that you maybe re-examine your own behavior in hopes that you can see what errors and assumptions you’ve made.

  • Anonymous

    Melissa I have to agree with Timid Atheist. You are a very good writer and very good/excellent story. I wish more continuing happiness in your family life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07727291511829658991 penn

    What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing! I wholeheartedly support you and your family, and I assure you that I'm one vote in many to give your family the rights you deserve.

    I imagine you know about this already, but if you don't, please consider the UCC. If your wife is still interested in ministry, the UCC church (or even the Unitarian church) are safe places where she can pursue ministry. Even just being an interim might be a good way to bridge the money gap through beauty school or be a side job with beauty school. My dad is a UCC minister, and I have always found it to be a welcoming place, especially as you get farther west.

    I wish your family the very best, and I am so happy I stumbled across your blog! I appreciate your thoughtful consideration, your engaging writing, and the food for thought you have given me in my own marriage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07727291511829658991 penn

    Perhaps it is that this IS the plan God has for them, and they are being faithful in trusting and taking this leap. Being authentic to your true self, and seeing yourself as a temple, is, in my mind, being truly Godly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08229950594114279349 gracieallan

    Melissa,

    I read an article a while back in a magazine about a girl who was struggling with some of the same pain you are dealing with now. Seems her parents also were completely dedicated to a radical ideology; they also chose to live a fringe lifestyle in stark contrast to the culture around her; she had, like you been taught that the way they saw things was the “correct” way; she learned how to verbalize the family's main talking points; was taught to pity anyone who disagreed with them, but to be still be kind, in hopes that they too would someday be as enlightened as her family; she was taught to discount any genuine criticism, to rationalize their lifestyle… I suspect you recognize a lot of this behavior.

    Thing is, it turns out the radical lifestyle this girl was raised in was a family with two moms. She said it was extremely painful for her to write about because she deeply loved her parents and knew they loved her too, but that she needed, for her own sanity, to process all the pain her childhood had caused her, all the unmet needs she'd been left with, the confusion she was dealing with now…

    So my concern is that you may unintentionally create for your own children the very dysfunction you had visited on you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11472939719038765168 JJ

    Continued from my last comment:

    (IMO only, I won't presume that others agree)I think that this state of being, in part, is something which all people yearn for in their deepest core, and I think that comes out of the way God built our hearts and also the way our culture shapes out hearts. So yeah, I commend you for coming to that point in your life where you know that you want to live authentically and free rather than live inauthentically and miserably depressed/suppressed. I guess the only point I disagree on is the whole no-Christ, no-God thing. But that is because of my journey and the conclusions I've come to. But you have a different journey and different conclusions and I can respect you regardless and the wisdom and discernment you have offered to us through your writings is worth more than I can say.

    I guess I wrote all this just to put it out there that maybe there is a huge portion of Christians (fundamental or other branches) that are avidly against everything you represent and stand for with your spouse and family. But I am not one of those people and yet I am still very much a Christian. I want you to know that there are people out there like me who are Christians who support you and are learning from you and will try to work along side you (in spirit, maybe not in person haha) to change people's (especially fundamental Christians) minds about their preconceived notions and fears. It's time for people to think and challenge themselves and what they have always believed to be true about many hard issues faced today (and throughout history). I don't want Christians to be seen as the ignorant, bigoted folk anymore. I want Christians to be accepting and supportive. But this doesn't mean giving up faith in Him or His Word. Maybe some will think the two can't coincide but I would beg to disagree! So there you go. I know you don't need any affirmation from me, but this is just something I wanted to put out there for anyone else like me who might come along and read your blog, as well as anyone in general who wonders if there are any supportive/accepting Christians out there. Well, there are. I'm one of them.

    So I hope your life is continually blessed. I hope that you continue to find more and more people to support you and become part of your family/community. :) I would say another hope of mine is that you come to know Christ again and that he can be a part of your life again, but I feel like that would be cliche and not my place since you've obviously come to your own conclusions and beliefs. But know that I hope that for you because in my mind that is actually the best thing I could wish for you. It is my way of wishing you even further happiness then you already have, so I hope you don't take it the wrong way if I wish you such. haha I think you won't take offense. You understand the Christian lingo so you'll see this post for what it is lol.

    All in all I have a lot to think on now thanks to your story. I'm excited to continue with the challenging questions you and others have presented me with over the past few years. :D Best of luck with your blog and future endeavors!!

    -JJ

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11472939719038765168 JJ

    Wow thank you for writing this and for your bravery! I read all of it and I was glad I did. I found your story/blog through another post you did on universal health care actually… (On a side note you really are a riveting writer!)

    Okay so I feel like this is where I throw out where I'm at with all this (in more detail. I apologize for the length of this in advance, but I hope you read this. It would be cool.)
    I'm a bible believing Christian but I am also a supporter of the GLBTQ community and all that that entails. Interestingly enough, I was an atheist for most of my life, raised in a Italian Catholic culture, then I came to Christ through my born-again fundamental Christian brother. Years later, he became an atheist while I have remained a Christian. It has been hard because he taught me in the attitudes and dogmas set by fundamental Christianity and these were sometimes followed up in my Christian college setting. And while I still consider myself a follow of Christ and his Gospel, I don't think I ever felt comfortable with the notion of taking on such extreme beliefs as were presented to me when I first became a Christian or in the years since. I guess that's the atheist background coming out in me. I love to question and educate myself. I love to be reasonable and rational about things. I love science and philosophy and theology. I love people who challenge beliefs by sharing their life experiences and knowledge and wisdom whether it be from a religious or non-religious angle. I found the way you presented your life and your case for transgendered people (and the GLBTQ community in general) to be really well written and thought out. I respect you for all this and have learned so much by reading about you and your partner's journey. I empathize with your inability to reconcile your happy, authentic life with any kind of "Christian" or religious community. (It is a shame there is no Christian communities who will welcome and support GLBTQ people and supporters the way the Gospel so obviously tells people to. It leaves people who are already marginalized out in the cold without access to (what I believe to be) the hope and acceptance offered by Christ, a loving and personal God who knows suffering and oppression first hand. I've actually talked to a lot of people (and I'll even include myself in on this) that have struggled with being happy with their lives, making authentic life-choices without guilt or fear or dogma hanging over them.

    TBC in my next comment….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03966481358894211083 Christina

    I stumbled across your blog while following a link on facebook to your post about how universal health care is not bad and ended up also reading your posts regarding you and your partner's journey out of curiosity. Your story is amazing and beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely wonderful!! Many blessings to you and Haley and your family. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18367172106010213120 Sarah

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy to have read the way your relationship deepened and developed and I just think this is the most beautiful love story I've ever read.

    As far as your question about where you fit in, and how we would feel if this was our story…I don't know how I would feel. Abandoned by the church culture, for sure. But my understanding of God is that He made us all in unique and beautiful ways, and that respecting the person He created us to be is the best way to honour Him. Haley was given some unfair struggles in life, and challenged in ways that I cannot begin to imagine, but she is living her life as the woman she is meant to be. And to me, that is a beautiful, honourable thing.

  • Anonymous

    I'm so sorry that the Christians you have encountered have been less than Christian! If you are interested, please visit the website for Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto. It was founded by LGBTQ people (although their strongest growth at the moment is straight couples with children, who go for the fellowship and Christ-like behaviour!)and is one of the most progressive churches in our city in so many ways. http://www.mcctoronto.com/ And may God bless your family as you journey together.

  • mashroom

    This series is incredible. The self-discovery that you and your wife had to go through is mind boggling! Now if only every bible-thumping right-winger (you know the kind) could go through the same journey, the would would be a much better place.

    Much love to you and your family!

  • Anonymous

    This is a beautiful love story! It's as if you and Haley were meant to find each other and walk this journey. I love that after everything you both found your true selves and your family will just grow stronger with all the happiness and love.
    If you accepted God into your lives, then He will never leave you. He loves all His children. He knew everything about you before you were even born and He knew you were strong enough for this journey. Many blessings!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06175505403416706368 darcie

    This was the most beautiful thing I have read in a long time. You and your family are awesome. I'm so happy you've found this unexpected happiness together. I came here by way of your health care post that was linked on HuffPo, and just got completely caught up in your story. Absolutely wonderful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02182987011771414483 Becca

    After reading all nine posts, I have to tell you Haley is a fantastic name – brave, sweet, and strong. That one addendum made me cry after making it through so much of your story without tears. I wholeheartedly approve.

  • Anonymous

    What an amazingly beautiful story… thank you for sharing it.

  • Kiku

    What a deeply moving (and wonderfully written) story. As a 51 year old who has been genetically male but emotionally female my whole life, reading your shared journey has been both a comfort and an inspiration. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Melissa,

    Wow, there aren't enough words to express how deeply moved I am by your openess and honesty. Your journey with your wife is inspiring and shows a tremendous maturity level for such a young mom (I'm 49 so I say that!). The courage, trust and understanding you both have shown is a real testament to the power of unconditional love.

    I echo the voices of others that you should write a book. You certainly have the talent and a very compelling and remarkable story to share. I would encourage you to pursue a career in writing but also understand you must make up your own mind what type of career you choose.

    I can relate completely to your having to overcome your religious background and find your own truth. I struggled quite a bit to overcome mine and accept myself as a lesbian. I always say I was drug kicking and screaming out of the closet by my therapist who saw my truth before I did. Fortunately, with her help (she was my angel) and attendance Metropolitan Community Church in Florida I was able to find peace and made great friends who supported me all the way. I now live in a very conservative Texas town but it hasn't kept me from living my life honestly and openly. My mom still does not approve but we've managed to have a good relationship anyway. I used to argue with her incessantly until I realized she was just as entitled to her beliefs as I was mine, and the energy I was expending was taking a toll on me. I really believe at this point she is okay with it simply because I'm not in a relationship, which is sad that she would prefer me single than in a loving relationship. I digress.

    I am so proud of you and Dee for traveling your journey with such dignity and respect for one another. You provide a great example of committment, love and what great parents consist of.

    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story of your life with us. I know that many will be inspired and possibly some hearts will be moved to see humanity instead of their preconceived notions of our community. Keep living your life according to your own truth. I know there will be difficulties but having the comfort of each other's love will get you through.

    I wish you much love and happiness in your lives and am sure you will find support and encouragement from friends and family as you stay true to your convictions. You have inspired me and touched my soul.

    Most sincerely,

    Kim Trebesch

  • Anonymous

    I found this story by linking from a Michael Moore recommended story that you wrote about universal healthcare. I liked your blog on facebook after reading those and now this. What a good writer and storyteller you are. You tell your stories in such a manner that leaves little room for condemnation from those who lean conservative but still listen. There are those who don't but they are slowly becoming minimized over time. I really do believe that. Showing my age but as John Denver sang in "Rhymes and Reasons", (children-youth) "with their innocence and trusting, they will teach us to be free" Older people may not be able to change. I am fairly old but a liberal at heart and had many gay friends in the Navy years ago. None of us cared one way or the other. The higher ups did. Besides my brother was gay and a sister is lesbian. (11 children in my family. Not due to any religious feeling. Just poor) Keep writing. I was mesmerized by all these stories last night and felt very in tune with your struggle. May you both find your peace and happiness together in whatever paths you choose to take.
    Linda E

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Rae, for also sharing. I, too, have found much peace and healing through reading these posts.
    Having grown up in a christian fundamentalist family, and now trying to support my transgender daughter through her transition, I am dealing with a lot of negative religious dogma.
    It is not easy, but I'm finding that how I behave and act or react is what is important.
    I have found a lot of strength and love through this blog and the commentators.
    Thank you to everyone.

  • Anonymous

    me too! it was really a great story. am so very glad that she shared it.

  • Anonymous

    AMEN!

  • James

    I also stumbled across this series following a link to your post on Universal Health Care. Thank you for sharing your journey, it has brought tears to my eyes. You're a wonderful writer. I wish you and your spouse every happiness as your journey continues.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I got to your blog because of your posts about health care, but then I found this amazing story. You are a beautiful writer and I hope that your story is read far and wide. You and your spouse are so lucky to have each other! What an amazing relationship! Thank you for sharing.

  • http://laneythestar.wordpress.com/ laneythestar

    Hi Melissa. I have just finished reading your story and am not quite sure what to think. Like many who have commented above, I am so glad that you and Haley are still together. So glad that it is a love story. Your story challenges me in many ways but opens new doors to understanding. I may not get it but hopefully there is growth and God can use this in my interactions with others I meet in the similar circumstances. lI can't imagine which aspect of your journey has been the most difficult but I applaud you for handling each aspect with maturity and sensitivity. Most of all, thank you for writing it out. BTW – I also enjoyed your piece on Universal Health Care (which I found through a Mike Moore link). Fantastic representation of your perspective that mirrors the beliefs of many of my christian friends in the states. I am now going to investigate some of your other posts.

    Kim (from Australia)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05178615368680347427 Fabian

    I commend you on your brazen honesty, thoughtful words, compassion, understand, and patience. While I cannot ever know the full extent of your upbringing, it appears that the God you were taught about isn't the God I know from the Bible. Christ is very accepting of people while not condoning living in sin willfully. He has not made any mistakes in creating us, and we all struggle with being free from sin's bondage. Our struggles are different, and arguably some more difficult than others, but God is strong enough to deliver us all. He does not expect us to free ourselves from our burdens, but to come to Him to take an easier load, because He will bare the rest. His life and sacrifice was to show us that even God can live a restrained existence. He shows us bountiful love, abounding grace, and boundless mercy because He knows how weak we are. He expects loving obedience through faith. He gives us instructions not to punish us, but to correct and guide us to His desire for our best lives. I encourage you to dive back into your faith now that you're unencumbered by old indoctrination and discover the true and living God who won't give you everything you want, but will give you everything you need. Blessings

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07048566288558207552 Scott

    Bravo!! I am so glad your story turned out so well. Hopefully you gals will have a rich and beautiful life.. :D

  • http://myeverlastingcompanion.wordpress.com/ myeverlastingcompanion

    I got all misty reading your story. I found your blog through a friend and have spent the last hour and a half reading your story, from courtship to the end here. I am so inspired and uplifted by your life's journey and so so proud of both of you for remaining true to yourselves. I am most definitely going to follow your blog to see how things are going with you and your family.
    Much love to you and yours.

    Love, light, and the blessings of the Ancestors.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04124608233190063680 Lauren

    Beautiful! The two of you are a perfect match. I'm so happy for you both.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12359540646140479991 Nathaniel Sizemore

    Melissa,

    I wanted to thank you (and Haley) for sharing your story, and doing so with such honesty and candor; I found it both touching and inspiring. I will share it with others, in the hopes that by better understanding your experiences, we can all grow to be more compassionate and accepting of each other.

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07755036475933566127 Zhangar

    This story is both beautiful and inspirational but I keep coming back and wondering how old you are?

    If you dont want to disclose that then I completely understand and I would just like to say that I have enormous respect for you two staying together even after all this. Many relationships would have been destroyed without your respect and honesty for your wife.

    Also, Michael Moore sent me here and I am really glad he did.

    Give Haley my regards,

    Sincerely,

    Christian

  • Anonymous

    thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your honesty and questioning and doubt. I am an adult from a similarly "non-traditional" family: my Father came out Gay when I was a teenager, and with a younger sibling, we weren't allowed to talk about it: even my Mother was unable to share the reason they were divorcing to her family. It caused so much hurt and confusion. As it worked out, however, we saw more of him (weekend visits) and they talked more and grew closer because they still had to communicate about "the kids". They were the envy of Dad's Gay Father's Group, as so many of the men had angry, vindictive ex-wives. They furthered their relationship, perhaps because they felt they had to "hide" what had happened to them. Good for you for sharing this, and for taking the "risk" of a non-traditional relationship for you and for your family. Congratulations on making your new life that works for you all!
    PS I'm posting as anonymous because I don't know how to sign in any other way. I'm Kathryn & I approve of this message!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07625502536789326808 Rebecca LoveKing

    I was so enthralled by reading your nine part post that I held off going to the bathroom until I was done reading it! :) Then I ran there like a mad-woman. :)

    I just wanted to comment that it is an amazing bit of luck that your parents had picked you for each other. (If I am remembering the story correctly.) To continue to be compatible after a gender transition like that, as you know, is so very rare and so very special.

    I wish you and your whole family the best of luck in the future. Living a "different" life is not always easy, as you have found. But being true to ourselves is the greatest gift we can give our children.

    Oh, and I love the name Haley! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03048383112478952767 Elizabeth Ramsey

    Yours is an amazing story. I just wish mine had turned out half as well but reality is what it is.

  • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    Wow, this took a lot of courage. I admire both of you for what you’ve been through.

    “She is an overcomer” is the part that resonated with me best (for very personal reasons that I’m not willing to put on the internet just yet!).

    It is such an appropriate word. Take good care, and sincerely, God bless.

  • Katy H.

    Wow. This is one of the most beautiful stories of love and growth I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing your story and truth. My best wishes to you and Haley and your children as you continue this journey together. I wish all families could be so full of love and caring.

  • Rachel

    I am in tears at work. This is, in your words, a modern day fairy tale and such a beautiful story. You are both such amazing people and I have no doubt you will have a long and happy life with your children. Thanks for the story.

  • Leah Petro

    Thank you for your bravery. In sharing your story you will help someone else find bravery, too. God bless you and your family.

  • http://atheistfox.blogspot.com Jared Watkins

    This is one of the most amazing and wonderful stories I have ever read. It takes a lot to bring me to tears, but this did it. I wish you and your family the best.

  • Elizabeth

    I just discovered your blog, and I must say, this is a beautiful story. I’m so happy for you and your family. I grew up in the same type of lifestyle, did the courtship thing, and my husband and I are leaving most of it behind. Youre bravery and love are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Rebecca Ward

    i stumbled across your blog while looking up information on courtship in fundamentalist christian circles. i’m so glad i continued to read beyond the series you posted on your courtship. your journey has been amazing and i’m so glad you and your spouse have each other for support. i hope your family continues to thrive in love and happiness.

  • am

    Moving story , you know God dosen’t make mistakes , he looks at all his children with love ( I”m talking about loving Jesus here not any particular church or group).He knit you together in your mothers wombs,knows every hair on your head and understands your journey. I’m sorry you are no longer feeling his love – I can assure you he is right there !!! lean on him :)

  • annon

    Absolutely amazed(in a good way!! :-)) about the responses on here. It is such a lovely change from the norm to hear people supporting each other and accepting them for who they are. I hope to hear more stories like this as our world (hopefully) moves toward being more accepting. I congratulate you and your spouse on your achievements and wish you continued happiness.

  • Cactusman

    I have just spent hours and hours over several days reading your stories and those of Libby Anne and other people raised in fundamentalist homes. It’s very fascinating to me and I am so glad my mother wouldn’t permit the fact that she was raised in a similar strict, dour Calvinist church in Holland in WWII to be transferred to her children.

    What a beautiful path you have been on, in spite of its troubles. Talk about taking the scenic route! It takes tremendous courage for you to have traveled your roads, both alone and together, and I am so happy that you feel strong enough to share your meaningful journeys openly. In my view, you represent the future of humanity as we grow past the need for controlling, fear-based religiosity and into spiritualism. Thanks to both of you for your beingness.

    • Teresa

      Cactusman, my family is also from the Netherlands (three of my four grandparents were born there; the fourth was born to Dutch missionary parents)! There’s some staunch ‘blackstocking’ Reformed history there – and I thank God that each generation has successively moved -away- from that restrictive faith!

  • Cat

    I am soo happy for you and your family to have found the strength and courage to be “authentic”. My heart goes out to you for all of the pain and suffering that you both had to endure. I had a very religious and conservative upbringing myself. I have questioned god many times, and I still do. I have such a hard time reconciling why that the almighty would burden people with such things as homosexuality and gender dysphoria only to have the bulk of his followers belittle, slander and hate them. It breaks my heart to see how much ignorance and intolerance flourishes in our nation today especially with the knowledge that the bulk of it is infused into our society by “god fearing” people. Your family and it’s path will be in my thoughts. I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of hapiness. *hugs*

  • restlesspilgrim

    Wow, this has indeed been a beautiful story. I stumbled across it while looking for ideas to put together a worship service for our Transgender Remembrabce Day worship, and I’m so glad I did. Incindentally, if you are ever still looking for a church which will accept you and your family wholeheartedly, it’s worth checking out the Metropolitan Community Church. They did as much for me, mainly of course because the membership of the church is overwhemlingly LGBTQ, and also because MCC churches on the whole have a whole lot of heart space for those who aren’t sure what they believe anymore. You meet individual exceptions, of course – we’re only human. But they have walked with me and supported me over what has been a very complex and at times painful gender journey, and I’m not sure I’d have made it without them. I’m in awe at the strength of you and your partner, at what you have achieved despite the hostility of ‘christians’ in your life.

  • Teresa

    It’s amazing how willing you are to share this deeply personal story! It’s a blessing to know that people still really COMMIT to marriages and work through the struggles and changes, and choose to change -with- each other.
    I’m going to echo many of the other commenters and say that I am grieved that this process has shaken your faith so deeply. One of my favourite Bible verses is “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” The United church is often quite welcoming of LGBTQ people. My Anglican church contains many young families, including a (male) gay couple who have just adopted their second child, who got universally cooed over the Sunday he arrived in church! There ARE other possibilities. There are many of us out there who believe that God loves ALL Her children, and that everybody has a right to ‘practice’ their sexuality in loving committed marriage relationships, as you do. Simply saying this won’t change where you’re at on your journey, but I want to give you hope for your faith…there’s a lot of good in it yet. Don’t give up.

  • Beth

    Melissa (and Haley!– I love your name),
    I haven’t read the above comments (there are a lot!), or other posts on your blog, but I really enjoyed reading your story. It was inspiring and hopeful, and I am so glad you found each other!
    I am commenting to say that I am a Unitarian Universalist. (UUA.org) I was sad to read that you feel you are currently without a religious home, and I get the impression that this is a dissapointing position for you to be in. I wonder if a (christian leaning, as some congregations are more liberal/secular than others) UU church would be a good fit for your family? I also wonder if a Welcoming UCC (United Church of Christ) church would be a good fit? (Also more liberal, but with a firmer standing in Christianity– they are an apostolic church).
    I enjoy suggesting UUism as a spiritual community to people that are searching because I have had good experiences, and it is a spiritual home where many people have struggled with religion in the past, so we don’t do much evangelizing! I have also very recently learned about the UCC church from my roommate. He is in a UU seminary, and in taking a history class on UCC is now rather enamored.
    Good Luck in all you do, and I am so happy to read about your happy and encouraging home!
    ~Beth

  • Andy

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, for it has made me, without the slightest shadow of doubt, a better person with regard to LGBTQ. I wish you the best.

  • Peaslepuff

    I’m completely in awe of this story. It’s actually mind-boggling to think that y’all ended up together and that it worked, considering the whole courtship and fundamentalist Christian background, you know? It’s like, if y’all had married anyone else, neither one of you might have been as happy as you are with each other now…you might not have been able to unwrap the onion at all!! It’s amazing!

  • merridee

    Y’all rock. I hope your life together is long, safe and filled with joy.

    Sincerely,
    A straight ally.

  • Andrew S.

    I just discovered your blog today and finished readind this nine-part post. I’ts a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it. I hope you don’t take ofence at this, but it’s so novelesque at first I had my doubts it was real (this is the internet after all, you never know :) ) but as it seems to be true you and your family have my admiration for your courage and my best wishes for whatever the future may bring. Even when I was thinking that maybe the history wasn’t real, I was thinking “if it’s fiction, at least is a very well written and compelling piece of fiction”. Have you ever comtemplated write profesionaly? I think you have real talent.

  • Eden

    Wow, your story is so very similar to our’s, except we’re the opposite. I’m FTM and my husband is cisgendered. But yeah, I can relate so much. It’s an incredibly hard journey. It makes me sad that so many Christian groups make God out to be so cruel. I don’t think he’s the way he is so often pictured. I know if it weren’t for God, my husband and I could never survive all we’ve been through. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you too have experienced the pain that we and so many others have gone through. I wish you the very best.

  • Lisa

    Someone commented this above:
    “And yes, there *are* many Christians out there who *will* love and accept you for who you are!”

    I would suggest that there are even Christians in your recently-abandoned denomination, and even your former congregation that would do the same. Did you give them the chance?

    Be careful when painting groups of people with such broad strokes (Christians, Calvinists, particular denominations, a whole congregation). You don’t appreciate assumptions and generalizations about groups you identify with (I assume :-) ).

    I do hope you all find joy in your life, and that God will use you for his purposes. :-)

  • http://glitchygirl.tumblr.com/ Glitch

    (I apologize… this is long and rambling, and maybe not best to be posted. Rather it is more of a comment asking for advice/help)

    It’s strange, while I read this I had so many things which I wanted to say to you, and now that I’ve come to the conclusion of your beautiful story and I at a loss for what to say. So I’ll do my best to stumble along. It is my hope that not all of this gets posted since I am still somewhat hesitant about some things myself.

    This being said, I will begin with the obvious. Your story, again it is beautiful and it gives me hope that I will find that happy ending…. or that fairytale outcome that you seem to describe. This being the case, I am currently twenty-eight years old and as of three months ago tomorrow I began HRT… having come out to my family only three months prior to this about my true nature, and who I really am. My family throughout this has been completely unsupportive and have only now begun to display some glimmer of acceptance, for what I need to do.

    And in my recent revelation… see up until those six months ago I fought with myself about what a good Christian “man” would be like, and denied my feminine persona devoting my life to a) studying for med school b) numbing my brain in computers when I wasn’t pursuing part A. While doing the above to try to be a good. “God Loving” individual. And I did so until I could no keep it together.

    Now I’ve found some strange solace in the fact that while the congregation of my church has not the faintest idea of what I am doing, I’ve found some comfort in weekly meetings with my priest talking about this, while he helps answer my questions about the faith I am only now coming to truly understand. This being that while this is definitely a new thing to him; he has not condemned me for what I am doing and instead is helping me to be the best Christian I can be… and I love him for that. Because he has taught me that God will not condemn me for simply being born in a body which does not match my mind, or soul. Nor will he ever stop loving me. Hell (no pun intended…) I’ve even learned that the idea of hell is a construction that actually came about as a mistranslation from the Greek texts to everything else which occurred when one of the catholic people in history mistranslated something. In fact the act of hell is simply seen as turning away from God and living in a way where you’ve done so and is only self imposed. (God being the true light, and hell being in a place where said God is absent.)

    However with all of this said. I still find myself in a strange place.

    See, in meeting with my priest almost weekly I’ve come to learn a LOT about what our religion (the Eastern Orthodox faith) has to say about who God is. And if this is really the God that created us I am happy about the idea of coming to love him and eventually walk with him when it’s my time to go. Because he is a God that does not judge, and a God that will not discard me simply because I am not like every other individual, either male or female but something that is (un)delightfully somewhere in between.

    However, I also understand and see how quickly people at my church are so very happy to talk amongst one another to belittle whom they see fit. I mean hell, there was one individual who was out to disgrace my family and I because I could no longer withstand the abuse that I took from my ex girlfriend or their daughter. (She was a very pretty individual who actually a few months into our relationship started abusing me, mentally and towards the end physically. However due to what I was putting up with, I somehow felt it was what I deserved for being the type of person I was.)

    Because of all of this, and adding to the mix that my priest suggested it my be better than I do depart and start over where no one knows me. (A feat which is hard to do because I’ve been moving all my life and this is the first time I’ve found a loving community) I am starting to wonder if what I’ve been brought up to believe is simply a wonderfully detailed story whose intention was to help mankind behave to the best of their ability and to be the best society we could be. (I mean how can you not come to love a being who loved us so much that he would incarnate himself on earth and then die for us AT OUR HANDS so that we could then live without sin and be forgiven for our past atrocities?) Which simply went wrong.

    Or long story short, because of the situation I have been having a crisis of faith and contemplating the idea of Atheism. Not as an affront to God as I know him, but at the fear that the God that I know may have been nothing more than a series of beliefs taught to try to bring about the best in man. Something which has as history has dictated been a mistake steeped in bloodshed and oppression.

    All of this being said. I know what I may be asking may be a lot of you. But is there someway that if I shared this post with my parents, or even my sister who might then show it to my family. (again long story short here… grad school is expensive, so is HRT, and medical school will be even more so so its cheaper to be at home) Might you please consider corresponding with them if they attempted to contact you? Because seeing that you come from a very religiously steeped background, you may be able to connect on a level that I was simply never exposed to growing up.

    All of this being said, I apologize for the rambling but thank you for your time.

    • Melissa

      ((Hugs)) Thank you or your comment and I hope that your transition goes smoothly and peacefully. We are still working to communicate and relate with family members who do not understand or try to understand, it’s a bit of a rocky road. Feel free to pass on the post, if anything it may provoke thought.

  • Deborah

    What a beautiful story – thank you for sharing it. I have tears in my eyes as I finish the last few paragraphs. I’ve been reading patheos a lot lately as I’ve been questioning my own faith, and most of what I read makes me think “yea… maybe I am an atheist.” This series of posts, though, makes me more inclined to believe in a god. The strength of your love for Haley and hers for you… the fact that of all the people in the world you each could have married, you managed to find each other. Maybe there is a god. Then again, maybe you’re just very awesome people who got really lucky. Anyway, thanks again for sharing – I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  • Allyn

    THIS. IS. AWESOME. What a wonderful, brave family! Beautiful love story!!! :)

  • Phoenix

    I’m in tears right now after reading your story. I wish your family the best of luck.

    I know the idea of religion is complicated for you right now, so I hope you don’t mind me saying the following: I grew up in a Christian household too, although significantly less conservative, and while I no longer fit into that spiritual umbrella, I just have to say that the fact that the two of you, so perfect for each other and so perfectly suited to beign the exact person the other needed, from a situation where your options and choices were so limited, and that everything could have worked out as it did…call it what you will – Fate, Destiny, the Divine – that is God at work.

    As a trans girl just now starting to find herself, this story is one of my new greatest inspirations. Thank you very much for sharing, and once again, I wish you all the very best!

    ~Phoenix~

  • RE

    I’ve just today discovered your story (through your link on OBF) and I’m pleased as punch to have done so. You have an amazingly complicated, beautiful, and true story that I’m so delighted your family has had the bravery to share. I am delighted that you and Haley have found your way to who you are, so that you can live authentically. So cool.

  • Mikhail

    Hello from a new reader, and thank you for your story! (I have now completed the courtship series and then this one).

    I am a Lutheran/Anglican (a bot complicated because of moving from Russia to Ireland). I hold to moderately conservative views. And I am extremely glad to hear about your family. Moreover. while I never gave the “courtship” stuff any time of day, I suddenly see pretty much a miracle has happened in the context.

    I happen to believe that marriage is ideally between male and female, and while th ematter of civil law is complicated the church at least should proclaim it. But humans are not ideal, we are broken people ina broken world. And I was always thinking of gay and transgender people as potentially doing well together (though my observations are mostly about the “slasher fan” not-quite-FtM types. who actually are attracted to gays).

    Now I read how God has put just such a couple together in a beautiful marriage that could survive changing ideologies and communities.

    You never mention how far your husband chose to go with transition treatment, and I respect this decision. But somehow I hope she can be male enough to remain your husband – whatever it would mean between you – while externally and socially a woman. Really, one’s sex should not even matter outside of marriage. And there are ALL SORTS of males and females in this world as it is, and not every of one fits to every of the other – which should be the undoing of the courtship movement… but somehow it still produced your great union.

    No, OF COURSE this is not enough for me to consider forcing my own children into courtship. One can never presume on Grace. But when the time comes to tell them of sexuality and moral choice in it – which I do firmly believe to be individual choice, not something determined by either accident of birth or that of family – this might be one of the examples I bring in.

  • Whitney

    I just stumbled upon your blog the other day and have been reading fervently since. It’s been absolutely fascinating and I have so much more I’d love to say but I’ll spare you :-) and just say that you and your spouse are amazing, strong people and I wish I could reach through the internet and give you both a big hug. Thank you for sharing and I hope that more people read and share your story. It’s funny how one can feel so moved by a complete stranger on the internet, but your story really touched me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    That was an amazingly lovely, heartwarming story. I know as a society we still have a long way to go towards everyone being equal but I want you both to know that I think you should both be incredibly proud of the life you are living and the obviously happy family you are raising your children in. I can’t imagine anyone not being proud to be your friends and knowing two such amazing heroines.

  • bob

    Touching story . I just about spat out my coffee when I read that you weren’t just conservative evangelicals, but ministers.

    I wouldn’t have expected your Church to accept these changes. Various churches have different rules, and you and your spouse no longer follow your old church’s rules.- that’s life. There are (as you know) more socially liberal denominations that are more tolerant of orientation and gender issues.

  • Shea Harrison

    I gravitated to your story from a blog post written about The Duggars (who kind of rub me the wrong way). I started with your Courtship and today I came back for more and read your whole transition story. I have to say you and Haley are amazing. I was raised by my mom and her partner. I still remain very close to her partner even though they have parted ways after 22 years together. I didn’t realize that my family wasn’t normal and I didn’t think anything of two women sharing a bed until around eleven. At eleven my “cousin” notified me that they were gay and it all clicked but it never really was an issue. I never panicked or was ashamed, they loved each other and me and that is what mattered. I wanted to share my experience with you and let you know that your children will appreciate you two living and loving life together as you are. I enjoy your writing style and I hope to see more from you in the future. Peace, Love, and Happiness -Shea

  • Ashleigh

    Thank you so much for sharing your and Hayley’s story. My spouse and I are at the beginning of a similar journey, and it is heartening to hear how Hayley’s transition enabled your marriage to move from strength to strength. Much love from Australia x

  • ashley

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is overwhelmingly beautiful, as are you and Haley. I was directed here from Libby Anne’s blog, and have accidentally spent the afternoon/evening reading post after post, including your courtship story and this series.

    

I am a 28 year old female who was raised in a pseudo-similar environment (my parents had always been extremely conservative patriarchy-adherent evangelicals, but didn’t get into homeschooling/quiverful circles until my younger sister–my only sibling- and I were adolescents. As a family, we got on board and did the whole purity culture thing, and my sister was eventually homeschooled (and my parents never had more children), but fortunately we were both permitted to go to college before being expected to become housewives.

    I eventually discovered that I had passions beyond being a homemaker, and was occasionally really good at things. Things that surprised me. Things that women weren’t supposed to enjoy. I went on to get an engineering degree, and am now in medical school eight months away from being an M.D. I also abandoned the purity culture at age 23, am bisexual, and now have a 3 year flourishing relationship with live-in boyfriend of a different race. (All things that make my family consider me as having failed my purpose of being raised. I hope that sentence made sense.)

    Over the past 5 or 6 years I have met so many wonderful people that my parents and “my” religion and supposedly my God hate. But I’ve come to the conclusion that they just have to be wrong. The variety of people beyond a strict gender/orientation dichotomy was always discussed as being sinful, aberrant, or defective. And at the time I hadn’t ever met anyone that wasn’t exactly like my family, so sure, why not think they’re defective?

    But now I’ve met folks that don’t fit into those boxes… and I’ve found they’re are amazing, interesting people. And together, this diversity of personhood is beautiful. I see “God”’s creativity in every new flavor of existence and preference. But my bible and my church are filled with judgment. I’ve been struggling with this conflict (as well as several others), and am now kind of agnostic. I still see a god in your story—the fingerprints of some cosmic benefactor who brought you and Haley together for each other for this journey. Maybe it’s a different god than the one I grew up with. Maybe it’s no god at all and instead just the occasional serendipitous fate of humanity.

    Regardless, your story exemplifies the elegance and harmony and imperfection of love—no matter what genders the players are. I have tried sharing my convictions with my father from time to time, all so far without good endings. I want to send this story to in its entirety, probably against my better judgment, because it just seems so obvious to me that you love each other just like anyone else. And your lives are just as sacred as those in the church. And your story just as beautiful. And that you’re not that different from any other member of humanity.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has touched and uplifted me. I can guess that it has probably been more difficult than you graciously let on, and for that I am sorry. But I am not sorry (or “saddened” or any of the other things I have seen on here) for who you are.

    I hope for happiness and freedom for your and Haley’s life adventure together!!!

    • Melissa_PermissionToLive

      Thank you so much for your encouragement. :)

  • Sarah

    Melissa, thank you for writing this! I am so impressed with your openness and honesty. See, I was raised in similar circumstances as you – homeschooled, very conservative, very strict. I was able to leave, and I left my parents’ belief system behind too. But I have never talked through things with a partner, never thought about things as deeply as you, and never told my parents about how my life has changed. Even now, after living as a gay woman in a monogamous relationship for four years, my parents do not know. And yet we have a reasonably close relationship – closer, and better than it has ever been. Sometimes I feel like the messages I received as a kid about the need to be cheerful, uncomplaining, and grateful have made my smile a facade that I can’t seem to leave behind. Anyway, after reading about your courtship and your coming out, I have so much respect for you and your partner. Thank you,

  • Airyairy Quitecontrary

    I initially read your recently reposted courtship story over on Libby Anne’s blog, and on finding this continuation, thought WHOA, PLOT TWIST. I read on eagerly and was really touched and encouraged by the way you and Haley have dealt with this development in your lives together. I am cisgender but recently made some transgender friends for the first time, and am accordingly learning a lot more than I used to know about their experiences and perspectives on life. This is another story to add to my understanding. You sound like lovely people, and I hope your happiness will last a very long time.

  • LKAPP

    You guys are the funkiest Christian/Agnostic/LGBTQ people I have met.. you guys rock


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