TransTalk: Gender Roles in Marriage

TransTalk Dec. Photo Via SFGN File Photo

(Mirror) As I write this, I’m sitting in a nail salon while my wife gets her nails done. I’m playing the role of the dutiful husband who obligingly accompanies my wife on these errands while I patiently try to keep myself occupied. 

My wife makes me go shopping with her and while she tries on coats and sweaters and debates between this pair of sunglasses or this pair, or asks me which shirt I like better (hint: it doesn’t matter which one I like better because she’ll get whichever one she likes better), I browse the men’s section waiting for her to tell me we can leave now. 

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When it’s time to pay at a restaurant or a store (or a nail salon, like I just did) I almost always pay because it feels good to provide for her even though we both work and we share the same bank account. Sometimes we are so heteronormative, it makes me sick. 

In our relationship, there are clearly stereotypical gender roles we both fit into really well. She likes shopping, having her nails done, and wearing makeup and heels. I enjoy being the driver when we’re in the car together, paying the bills, and building and restoring furniture. 

But we also buck stereotypical roles often, too. While she does do most of the cleaning in the house, I’m the primary chef and baker. She puts the laundry in the washer and switches it to the dryer, but I’m faster at getting it folded. I’ll iron my clothing and she avoids it as much as possible.

These roles are just that, though - stereotypes. Cisgender, heterosexual couples break the stereotypes all the time. Some men enjoy shopping. Some women love football. I’m only incredibly conscious of these gender roles because of my experience. 

I’m often asking my wife, “Do you think my voice is too high?” “Is this work bag too feminine?” I simultaneously want to be seen as masculine all the time while also recognizing the dangerous box that masculinity places one in and trying to constantly refrain from limiting myself because of outdated notions of what makes one a male. 

When my wife and I first moved in together, we didn’t sit down and decide who would take on which domestic duties, although that is a good idea. Instead, we worked out what makes more sense for each of us. And it turns out that we generally each just gravitated toward more stereotypical roles. However, we were open to taking on roles that worked for us. In order for me to maintain a healthy sense of gender, I try to ask myself, “What do I like to do?” or “What makes me feel comfortable?” instead of performing the role I think a man should take on. We’ve found what works for us, but it’s still something we work on, like any other couple committed to making it work long term. I have to make conscious efforts to show my appreciation for all the housework she does. I like her to at least pretend to care where we stand with our finances so that we can make financial decisions together. It turns out that two trans people in love are surprisingly similar to any other couple in love. 

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