Coming out as trans when you're already married

Jane and Barbara Hamlin had been married for eight years when a secret emerged that changed their lives.

Video transcript

JANE HAMLIN: We'd been married about seven or eight-- seven years?

BARBARA HAMLIN: Probably about that.

JANE HAMLIN: About seven years when the secret came out.

BARBARA HAMLIN: We were packing to go on holiday. And in the process of doing that, I discovered a bag of clothes at the back of the wardrobe that I knew nothing about. And the bag of clothes contained female things, and there seemed to be two of each, underwear, all sorts. And then I found a very large, large size pair of female shoes as well. So I really didn't know what the answer was.

My real fear was that she was seeing somebody else. That was my overriding thought, I think. I had to pick my moment to find out the truth. A couple of days into the holiday, we were in bed. And I managed to blurt out that I'd found the bag of clothing. And what does it mean?

And she immediately explained. There was no hesitation at all. Apparently, she had wanted to tell me for a very long time.

JANE HAMLIN: That's right. For a long time prior to that, I'd realized this was a secret that was just too heavy and needed to be let out, but couldn't find the right moment, in fear that it might end with rejection and end what had been a wonderful marriage.

BARBARA HAMLIN: The truth was that the clothes all belonged to her, that nobody had come to the house, and that she quite liked wearing clothes like that. And my relief was enormous. Everything suddenly became clear. It explained all sorts of things to me.

If you like, the scales fell from my eyes, and I could understand that this huge secret was enormous. And she had lived the whole of her life up to that point keeping it a secret. And that, to me, was quite amazing that anybody could do this.

JANE HAMLIN: When it all came out, it was a great relief because here was somebody, to whom I was very close, with whom I could share it. At last, an opportunity to share this whole me.

BARBARA HAMLIN: Coming to terms with it took a while. I did need to talk to a friend almost immediately. I needed to tell our two closest friends really. And they were a tremendous support. Time went on, more and more people came to know. Gradually, We lost our apprehension that society wouldn't accept us, and we were able to live as you see us now through everything that we do, absolutely everything.

And I could see that this was a huge thing. And we just had to go for it full time. Half measures were not going to-- not going to suit.

JANE HAMLIN: Yeah, this is the thing, that once the genie is out of the bottle, it won't go back in. Within the first month of coming out full time, and we'd been somewhere and called in at the butcher's. The butcher's assistant welcomed us by saying, oh, come in fancy dress today, have we?


JANE HAMLIN: Oh dear. So we never went back. I felt crushed. There are so many misconceptions that people have, unfortunately. People think it's some sort of lifestyle choice, but it's not. There's no choice.

The only choice is whether you hide it, and for many people, that means that they suffer mental traumas, or they talk about it to their friends, their family and risk rejection, which sadly does happen. I know lots of people for whom that's happened.

BARBARA HAMLIN: I think when a lot of wives and partners are told about the trans issue, they feel deceived, they feel as if they've been lied to. And I've thought about that a lot. Somehow, I didn't feel that I'd been deceived. I didn't know. And I think there's a difference between deception and not knowing.

We have a wonderful life. We're extremely happy with everything that we do. We do things individually, separately, and we do things together. And it all seems to work. We live in a very lovely part of the world. And we're very, very lucky. We count our blessings every day. We really are very lucky.