Woman Realises She Is Gay After Wife Comes Out As Transgender
A woman who realised she was gay after her husband came out as transgender wants people to know it is possible for couples to stay together if one person transitions.
Jenni and Sarah Barrett, from Phoenix, Arizona, married in 2005. At the time, Sarah, who had been assigned male at birth, went by the name Sean.
The pair met at Arizona State University while they were training to be teachers, but Sarah had to wait for Jenni to be single before she could make a move.
Three years later, when he found out I’d broken up with my ex, he got our friend to throw a house party so we could meet.
We always joke that he was my stalker, but really we’ve been inseparable ever since.
I knew he was The One as soon as he gave me a killer head massage that same night. I told myself I’d play hard to get after he left a voicemail trying to set up a second date. I waited 20 minutes before calling him back – that’s how hard I was to get.
In the following years they went on to have two children, Morgan and Toby, and shortly after Toby’s birth Jenni noticed Sarah began to wear women’s clothes around the house.
Sarah would wear silk pyjamas, which were ‘clearly for women’, or dress in a nightie for bed. On date nights, she would wear a bra under her clothes, hidden beneath layers ‘so no one could see’.
It was obvious that if she had an entire wardrobe of women’s clothes, she would be wearing them somewhere…
There were clues, too. I’d be doing the laundry and there would be women’s clothes that I definitely hadn’t worn – so I knew Sarah must have been wearing them.
Looking back, part of me was scared to have my suspicions confirmed, another part of me didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to point the finger and be wrong. It didn’t feel like my place.
Jenni noticed the changes, but decided not to say anything. Meanwhile, the parents suspected that their eldest son, Morgan, might be gay.
In 2016, when Morgan started secondary school, Jenni and Sarah discussed how they wanted their son to be ‘comfortable enough to come out as gay’. The conversation led Sarah to think about the way she identified, and encouraged her to ‘hold up a mirror to herself and come out as trans.’
After Sarah made her admission, Jenni realised she had been concealing part of her own identity; she was gay.
Recalling the moment they both came out, Jenni said:
Sarah rolled over one evening in bed in 2016 and told me, ‘I really need to talk to you – I think I’m trans.’
I’d come to realise why I’d always been so drawn to her, it was because of who she was on the inside – a woman – and not her shell.
I turned around and said, ‘That’s OK – I think I’m gay’.
We’ve had conversations since about this time in our lives and it turns out we were both silently Googling. I was looking up, ‘Is my partner transgender?’ and Sarah was Googling, ‘Am I transgender?’
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The couple told their sons about Sarah’s transition, and they believe their experiences helped Morgan become his ‘true authentic self’ as he came out as gay two years later.
Morgan and Toby, who are Jewish, now call Sarah ‘Eema’, which is the Hebrew word for ‘mother’.
I made the decision to persevere and be with Sarah regardless – she’s my soulmate. People never believe it, but I can honestly say that I never felt any betrayal or sense of being lied to.
Since Sarah came out we have been closer than ever – in all ways – and when we are being intimate, we act as if that part of her isn’t there.
Sarah started hormone therapy in July 2017, and now takes a combination of testosterone blockers and oestrogen every day. She is due to have gender confirmation surgery next year, and she feels the operation will be the ‘final chapter’ in her journey.
It’s the final barrier stopping me from entirely seeing myself as a woman. There’s no rule book to being trans, but this is something I know I need to do.
And it’s fantastic to know that Jenni and our boys will support me all the way.
Describing themselves as an ‘LGBT family’, Jenni and Sarah post regularly about their story on social media to help prove that ‘love conquers all’ and to show other couples that relationships can ‘survive’ a transition.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]