1st Edition

Head Over Heels
Wives Who Stay with Cross-Dressers and Transsexuals

ISBN 9780789030955
Published November 14, 2006 by Routledge
264 Pages

USD $28.95

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Book Description

Candid, first-hand accounts of couples who stay together despite highly emotional gender issues.

Head Over Heels gives voice to thirty ordinary women who live extraordinary lives as partners to crossdressers, transgenderists, and male-to-female transsexuals. These unique women discuss, with honesty and great candor, how they first learned of their partners’ gender issues, how they’ve coped with the emotions that followed, how they’ve dealt with concerns about privacy/secrecy, and how they’ve handled disclosure to children, friends, and family members. Far from a collection of “happily ever after” stories, these narratives are filled with pain, courage, curiosity, and joy as each woman struggles to redefine a relationship that includes intimacy, social acceptance, dignity, and respect.

The women whose stories are featured in Head Over Heels didn't know their partners were gender-variant when they first met. Some found out early on; others learned of their husbands' gender variance after decades of marriage. Some were told by their husbands—men they considered “regular guys;” others found out on their own, sometimes in shocking ways. Their stories represent a wide spectrum of women's life experiences with crossdressers, transgenderists, transsexuals who are nonoperative, pre-operative, and post-operative, families without children, families with children at home, and families with children who have left home. But these women share one thing in common: each has decided to stay in her relationship, exploring her new life with an open, yet cautious, heart.

Some of the voices heard in Head Over Heels:

  • “While putting my clothes on, I found a sales receipt on the bureau from K-Mart for shoes, a bra, and stockings. My immediate thought was that my husband had a girlfriend.”
  • “He dressed for me one night and it was the worst experience of both our lives. I was shocked and he knew it and that hurt him.”
  • “My siblings had been aware of Trish’s transsexualism for several years when she went full-time. They have told me that while I will always be welcome in their homes, Trish is not.”
  • “My husband may think differently, but I do have a sexual identity. Actually, I’m real clear about it—I am a woman and he is a man. I do not allow him to crossdress in the bedroom. I married a man; therefore, I will sleep with a man.”

Head Over Heels also includes historical and current information about resources and support for wives of gender-variant people, and a substantive introduction that includes basic information about sexual and gender identity and related issues.

Table of Contents

Cole, Foreword. Preface. Acknowledgments. Introduction. Transgender 101. Partner's Stories and Commentaries. Kate and Joe. Sally and Mike. Jo and Cameron/Clarice. Shelly and Marv/Allie. Bernadette and Gene. Joan and Don/Lucy. Julie and Dan/Diana. Holly and Jack/Jackie. Angie and Tommy/Charla. Rita and Bill. Leah and Frank/Franki. Cheryl and Jerry/Marge, and Mark/Lora. Katherine and Paul/Petra. Celeste and Ed/Edy. Nicole and Bob/Bobbi. Ellen and Alfred. Angelita and Tom/Theresa. Melissa and Steve/Stephanie. Sandy and Mandy (formerly Mark). Megan and Patrick/Trish. Mary and Jim/Jan. Gracie and Jane (formerly James). Sarah and Natalie (formerly Nathaniel). Bonk and Gwen. Miriam and Linda (formerly Gregg). Kat and Anna (formerly Dave). Anne and Diane (formerly Dick). Judi and Mindy. Conclusion. Appendix. Resources. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. References.

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"Erhardt’s book is a long-awaited and essential contribution to the literature on transgender people and their families, revealing the nuanced experiences of women who love men who cross the gender binary and live as, or express themselves as, women…This book will provide essential insight for clinicians and lay readers alike on gender transgression in families and the power of committed loving partnerships. The myth that marriages to transgender people are doomed to failure has been put to rest. Erhardt’s book will hopefully guide clinical theory to better serve families struggling with the lifecycle upheaval of transgender emergence."  – Arlene Istar Lev LCSW, CASAC, The American Journal of Family Therapy

"Recognizing the voices, feelings and experiences of these women is a significant contribution to the evolution of trans-understanding within family studies…These individual stories bring out larger culturally constructed gender norms, privilege presence, and offer ways to express feelings and needs in romantic relationships…..The relationships discussed in Head Over Heels are complex and life-altering, but all benefit from honest expressions of feelings and needs. Presence from the heart can move relationships beyond the head, and the heels."  – Jessie Stewart, Journal of GLBT Family Studies