Barry and Anne Watson were united nine years ago as husband and wife, but a lot has changed since then. After Barry began pursuing a sex change, the U.K. couple renewed their wedding vows last year and reaffirmed their commitment to one another, this time as wife and wife.
Barry, who now goes by the name of Jayne, told the Sunday Mirror that during a rough patch in their marriage, Anne actually thought he was cheating on her with another woman, when in fact he wanted to be a woman himself. Though Anne was “furious” to learn that Barry wanted to undergo a sex change at first, Jayne explained, she later conceded.
“Anne came to accept me for who I wanted to be and love me as Jayne. Renewing our vows seemed the perfect way to tell the world how happy we are with our new lives,” said Jayne.
As a child, Barry wore his mother's skirts and dresses while she was away. Later in life he would drive to a place where no one knew him just so he could wear women's clothes in public without being noticed.
Barry began dating women so that he would fit in, and in 1995 he met Anne. He was “totally attracted to Anne” when they first met, and after six months they moved into a house together in Halifax, West Yorkshire. They were married in 2002, but that didn't put an end to his identity issues.
“When Anne left the house I’d dress in a skirt and pearls, and on Internet chat forums I’d pose as a girl,” said Jayne.
In 2008, he finally confessed to Anne that he wanted a sex change.
“I couldn’t accept it to begin with,” Anne told the Sunday Mirror. “The first time I saw Jayne wearing a dress I started hacking at it with scissors. But slowly I realized that even though my husband wanted to become female, my feelings had not changed.”
In order to help the transformation, Jayne took female hormones – which helped to reduce body hair and soften her skin. In preparation for the renewal of their vows, Jayne and Anne went dress shopping together, and both of them had a bouquet at the ceremony.
Anne says she “grieved” over the loss of Barry, but is happy to “sit and giggle and talk about hair, clothes and make-up” with Jayne.
“I still love the same person whether they’re called Barry or Jayne... even though she does drive me mad when she steals my clothes without asking me!” said Anne.
Photos of Jayne's transformation can be viewed on the Sunday Mirror's website.
Denise Shick, the founder of Help4Families, says that it is not unusual for a transgender person to still have feelings for his wife, although it is uncommon for the wife of a transgender person to stick around. Many women, whose husbands struggle with gender identity and want to pursue a sex change, fear they might be in a lesbian relationship, Shick told The Christian Post on Monday.
“To them, of course, when they said their wedding vows it was to the man that they love,” she explained. “So it really takes a twisted turn when indeed husbands ask the wives to stay with them while they're transitioning and afterward. But that is a big struggle that wives have...is how they look at that relationship. And they just can't emotionally or spiritually go there.”
Help4Families, an organization based in Waynesville, N.C., is dedicated to helping individuals struggling with Gender Identity Disorders, and their families, by introducing them to a support network that includes others who have struggled with the same issues.
Shick's father was a cross dresser, the organization's website states, and prior to his death, she found out he also had been in a homosexual relationship. Initially she viewed her father's struggle as “disgusting,” “embarrassing” and “shameful,” she says, but she now realizes those who struggle with gender identity issues need love just like everyone else.
"The most difficult thing for us to do sometimes when it’s an issue that we're uncomfortable with...is to love them. Love them right where they are,” she said.
In order for Christians to help individuals struggling with a Gender Identity Disorder, Shick says, they must lend an ear to their problems and become a trustworthy friend.
"They're going to need somebody to confide in and they're going to want that because they have that need just like any of us do. Love them where they're at, and walk along side of them in truth and grace. That doesn't mean that we have to jeopardize our faith or what we believe is right or wrong,” she said.
She later added, “Again it's just so much loving them where they're at, and bringing them into relationship, and relationship with Christ. Because ultimately Christ is the one that's going to have to mend their hearts, and to take them through...the difficult journey.”