A County Durham couple’s marriage is “stronger than ever” they claim, despite the husband starting to live as a woman.
Soon after the birth of their third child, Stephen told his wife Fiona that he wanted to change his gender.
The wife was initially shocked and confused, telling her husband that “if that were to happen, [they] wouldn’t be married anymore”. However, she eventually agreed to visit a gender identity clinic with him, even if she “sat in the car and didn’t want to be involved”.
The husband did not transition at that point, but by 2013 he could not take living as a man anymore, had his changed by deed poll from Stephen to Stephanie.
Stephen married Fiona in 1987 and the couple went on to have four children.
Fiona said that despite the initial difficulties they faced, the couple’s marriage was now better than it had ever been before as a result of the experience.
Together they saw a therapist, herself a transgender woman, and this helped Fiona come to terms with the change. Although Stephanie has not yet had a sex change operation, she has started hormone therapy to help her appear more feminine.
Fiona said that gender transitions can be difficult for partners, who typically experience “a lot of feelings of betrayal because you didn’t agree to marry this other person”. They can also feel a real sense of grief as they think they are “losing the person [they] fell in love with” she said.
However, having gone through counselling with Stephanie, Fiona says she now understands that her husband “is still the same person but is much happier now living true to herself”.
Fiona admitted that her children initially struggled with the change but are steadily getting used to it. The couple’s youngest daughter is “just excited at the thought of us all going to the [LGBT] Pride festival together now”.