Couple shares story to help families navigate the waters during a transgender transition
It’s Pride Week and events across the country are celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex culture. Trans rights are becoming a battleground issue, with Hollywood bringing it into the spotlight. But no doubt friends, loved ones, and co-workers may struggle with the complexities when a transgender or nonbinary person transitions. Many are looking for ways to navigate the waters.
Sally and Kimberly (formerly George) Griffiths met through a dating service, fell in love and got married. Kimberly said the beard she once sported was lost, finally facing the truth that she is a woman.
“When she told me that she was really transgender, I believe I went through the five stages of grief,” said Sally. The couple both went to counseling to learn to accept the new part of their relationship.
Kimberly said she now sees signs of her identification as a woman from her early life.
“My parents caught me cross dressing and I ended up going to a therapist who knew absolutely nothing about what they were doing.”
Sally said the first thing she taught Kimberly to do was how to apply her make-up. “I couldn’t spend the day doing it. I needed to go to work. I couldn’t take a half hour, 45 minutes doing her makeup and get myself ready.”
Kimberly and Sally continued to work on their relationship. Sally didn’t want to tell their children until she was fully accepting. Sally said Kimberly eventually was able to make her better understand. She said “Sally, I think you have been thinking of me as a man who’s pretending to be a woman. When how I really feel is a woman who has been pretending to be a man.”
Before starting hormonal therapy, the couple sat down to explain the transition to the kids.
Kimberly said they were super and really understanding. “We hugged each other. They said we will always support you.”
Sally said when they called the grown children to talk with them they weren’t sure what to think. “At first I think they thought Kimberly was dying of cancer or something.
They were so accepting. We were thrilled that they were as accepting and loving as they were.”
“People need to realize that this is not a choice. That is something that this person needs to do. It’s part of the fabric of who they are,” said Kimberly.
Sally said people should educate themselves and show respect. “Sit down with your loved one and talk to them and listen to them, and try to do it without being judgmental.”
Kimberly’s voice cracks as she talks about a friend since second grade who she has lost. “He just couldn’t get it. Couldn’t accept it.”
Sally said Kimberly has always been open and honest, and makes her feel like the most loved person in the world. “I am not a lesbian. I just love the person. Still love the person. Will always love the person.”
“The journey is not easy, but it’s important for people to be able to be authentic, to be able to be visible and to be able to feel safe,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly Griffiths operates a pro-bono organization, OCTOPUS LLC, Organizing Communities Transgender Outreach Promoting United Support.