Real Life

Transgender love story: “I'll stick by you no matter what”

One couple's journey of gender and identity discovery.

By Lauren Irvine

Wenn Lawson, 65, shares his true life story:

As I walked down the aisle in my puffy white dress, I couldn't shake the feeling something wasn't right.
It's just wedding day jitters, I thought, scolding myself for being so silly.
I was 20, and had met my amazing groom, David, at youth group four years earlier.
We shared an interest in cars and footy, so we always had plenty to talk about, and he owned a motorbike, which I loved.
When he'd asked me to marry him, I happily agreed.
Who better to spend my life with than a great mate with similar passions?
Now, seeing him waiting for me at the altar, I was riddled with nerves.
David's the man for you, I reminded myself.
A few weeks later, we were intimate for the first time, but we both struggled to get in the mood.
I figured we just needed to get to know each other better.
Over the next few years, we had four kids.
I'd always had a nurturing instinct so I loved being a mum.
David went off to work as a house painter each day and I had my hands full at home taking care of the little ones.
Eventually, a Swiss woman named Beatrice moved into our spare room and she'd often help me out.
We became close and the kids loved her, too.
But I began to feel strange emotions towards her that I'd never experienced before...
Listen to Wenn's real life love story in the Take 5 Podcast below.
My thoughts would always drift to her, and whenever she was around my heart pounded.
I had to stop myself. After all, I was a loving wife and mother.
I'd made lifelong vows to David and I had every intention of keeping them.
Four months later, David and I decided to move closer to my mum.
We asked Beatrice if she'd like to come with us.
For the next six months we lived as a family.
I loved seeing Beatrice every day, watching her smile and laughing with my children.
She gave me butterflies.
Wenn as Wendy at 13.
We were sitting in the park one day when Beatrice looked at me seriously.
"It's hard being around you because I just want to hold you," she said.
Her words hit me like an electric shock.
"Oh God, I feel the same!" I confessed. "But we mustn't act on it."
Thankfully, she agreed and David never suspected a thing.
I hated feeling like I was being unfaithful to him.
But months later, Beatrice fell ill and had to go back to Switzerland.
We cried as we said goodbye at the airport, not knowing if we'd ever see each other again.
"Promise you'll stay in touch?" she sniffed.
I was shattered, but deep down I knew it was the best thing for my marriage.Over time, tension grew between me and David.
I was no longer happy being stuck at home while he went off to work, but he insisted that's how it should be.
Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask for a divorce. He didn't like it but agreed to move out.
One day, I wrote a letter to Beatrice telling her of the split.
She was sad for me, but I said it was for the best.
We wrote to each other daily after that, speaking honestly about our feelings for each other.
I want us to be together, I told her.
Will you come and live with us?
When she arrived, we couldn't contain our excitement.
By then my kids were between 12 and 19 years old.
I sat them down and told them that Beatrice and I were going to be a couple.
"Beatrice has always been part of our family," one of them said.
We were so relieved they were happy for us.
I loved being a mum.
But although I loved Beatrice, I was still just as uncomfortable during moments of intimacy as I had been with David.
But I ignored it and 16 years later, Beatrice and I married in a civil union in the UK.
One day, back home, I was watching a documentary about transgender people.
They were talking about how they'd never felt like they belonged in their own bodies and identified as the opposite gender.
Something inside me clicked.
I thought back to my childhood and how I loved helping Dad work on his cars, and kicking the footy with the boys instead of playing boring dress-ups with my sisters.
I was more interested in stealing my brother's clothes, anyway.
It dawned on me that, for my whole life, I'd never really felt like a girl.
The pieces of the puzzle were coming together.
It also explained my hesitation during intimacy.
I knew I had to tell Beatrice, but I was terrified she'd leave me.
We were sitting at home one night, when I blurted it out.
"I think I want to become a man," I said.
She frowned and I could see her mind ticking over, trying to process my words.
"But you're a wonderful woman, a wonderful mum," she said as tears welled in her eyes.
I understood why she'd be upset.
She'd fallen in love with a female and now, almost 30 years into our relationship, I was saying I wanted to change.
"I just want you to be happy," she said, saying she loved who I was on the inside.
"I can't guarantee I'll be attracted to you as a man," she said. "But I'll stick by you no matter what."
That made me love her even more!
Me (right) and Beatrice when we first got together.
When I told the kids, I expected them to be shocked.
Instead, they said they'd known I was transgender all along!
"I'll always be your mum," I told them.
I started hormone treatment and within a few weeks, my voice had deepened and facial hair began to sprout.
It felt like I was finally becoming myself.
Then I legally changed my name from Wendy to Wenn.
Beatrice and I wrote a book documenting our journey, which helped us make sense of it all.
She was by my side as I recovered from my double mastectomy, and again after my gender reassignment surgery.
But the operation meant our civil union was no longer valid because I was legally a man, so we went back to the UK and became officially married.
I finally feel like I belong in my own body, and Beatrice and I fully connect during intimacy.
Our relationship is stronger than ever.
I hope sharing our story will show that love comes in all shapes and sizes.
Transitioning Together: One Couple's Journey of Gender and Identity Discovery, by Beatrice and Wenn Lawson is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. RRP $26.90
Our relationship is stronger than ever.

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