Where is my manual on throwing a wedding with a partner who is transgender?! Both of us previously identified as lesbians, but now it's “Hey, I don't have a girlfriend anymore but a boyfriend, but I'm still gay, but we're getting legally married as male and female, but but but…”
Do I let guests show up and see my big queer event with my male partner and have them think whatever they want?
Hey, Becky. I've got my answer, but first I'm bringing in the expertise of Elroi Windsor, who Offbeat Bride readers may remember from this inspiring queer wedding.
Elroi is an Instructor and Doctoral Student of Sociology at Georgia State University with a focus on gender issues, and this was hir perspective:
Becky really should just deal with everything upfront, before the wedding, so she doesn't have to deal with it during. That way, she'll only have people present who support her and her partner.If everyone knows her as a lesbian, and knew the couple as a lesbian couple, then she needs to explain to everyone what's up if she wants them at the wedding. It's up to her to set the limits about what's ok and not ok to ask about when she relays the news.
Another option for her is to create a standard email with the news, a brief explanation, and a link to some other helpful resources. The internet has tons of how-to-come-out-to-your-family resources for trans people and their partners. Becky may want to link up to one of those she finds useful.It can be tiring explaining everything to everyone, but the mental and emotional toll can be reduced if you connect folks to the resources that are abundantly available.
Now, as for my response to the question, I've got some nitty gritty thoughts: Is your partner still going by the same name? If not, that could be the easiest solution. Just announce, “I'm marrying John, formerly known as Jane.”
If your partner kept his former name, then you could just say “I'm marrying Corey, who by the way is now indentifying as male.”
Above all else, I agree with Elroi that your best way to deal with it is head-on.
I've been really inspired by Megan Wallent, a Microsoft exec who transitioned very publicly last fall from her previous life as Michael Wallent. She created a blog to address the issue publicly and when I interviewed her, she said:
I could have said “This is what I'm doing, but I'm not going to talk about it. Suck it up.” But if you do that, you give the power to the people outside yourself, because you no longer own the message.
While transitioning in a work context is different than transitioning in a family context, you probably want to face the issue with the same transparency.
People are going to talk — you get to own the conversation! Plus, if you get all the questions out of the way before the wedding, then people can just focus on the beauty and magic of the actual event.