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What happens when your spouse comes out as transgender?

A lot of people only come to realizations about their gender identity after years of searching for answers to unspoken questions. By that time, some have married, and their spouses also have to deal with their transitions if they come out as transgender.

If your spouse is transitioning from one gender to another, what does that mean for your marriage? What is your role in his or her life now? This issue is increasingly common, and you will need to carefully consider how you move forward.

Legally, your marriage is still sound

Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in 2015, marriage is no longer restricted by gender. Your marriage will remain valid regardless of your spouse's gender. In other words, transitioning doesn't invalidate your legal relationship to each other.

Your romantic relationship may or may not be over

Having a transgender spouse doesn't automatically mean the end of your marriage. It does, however, mean that you have to re-evaluate the entire relationship. So does your spouse.

The odds are good that your spouse is still attracted to someone of your gender, since he or she married you in the first place. However, you may or may not be able to feel romantically attracted to your spouse's once he or she transitions.

Generally speaking, it isn't wise to make the decision immediately after you learn that your spouse is transgender and wants to transition. Counseling, both individually and as a couple, can help you both determine your wants and needs in regard to each other.

Your spouse's gender will not change his or her support obligations

If you decide to divorce, a change in gender won't affect your spouse's obligations to pay spousal support (if warranted) or child support. Your spouse will still have the same legal obligations no matter what.

Gender identity does not affect child custody decisions

The only way that your spouse's gender identity should affect a custody case is if his or her ability to care for the children is impaired. If your spouse is going through extensive surgeries, for example, it might be appropriate to have the children in your primary physical custody during that time. Otherwise, it isn't an issue.

Going through this time with your spouse may be difficult for now. Brighter days will come, however, no matter what path your relationship takes.

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