When Shifts In Identity Converge

“I’m transgender,” Brett told me.

We were still upbeat from our meeting with my breast surgeon earlier that day. My prognosis didn’t look quite so scary. (As it turned out, the diagnosis I was given this day was incorrect: I actually had stage 3a invasive ductal carcinoma and not stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ, but that’s a story for another day.)

That meeting had prompted Brett to share her entire truth with me because being face to face with a loved one’s mortality can bring what’s most important to the surface.

Brett’s complete candor is one of the qualities I’ve always admired about her.

She was open about being bi to me during the entire course of our relationship and initially thought certain feminine traits were as a result of being bi. And then some speculation about gender identity led to Brett coming out as genderqueer two years before my cancer was diagnosed. My reaction to Brett was always, “That’s awesome!” I loved that Brett was completely comfortable exploring questions of sexuality and gender identity. I loved seeing her adopt a more feminine appearance.


I have always known that despite appearing hetero to the world, this label didn’t apply to me. I was into certain types of women and men and in my 30s felt most comfortable with describing myself as queer. Going along with my husband, now wife, to wherever life took us has been part of what we have done for over a decade.

However, a small part of me was nervous. I knew I wanted to stay with her. The things I loved most about her had always been the same and would be the same no matter what: she was intelligent, a great parent to our son, an avid cyclist, a follower of Canadian politics, passionate about post-secondary education, and both a fun and excellent companion to go with hand in hand through life. But would Brett undergoing this transition affect our love and attraction for each other?

Earlier that day, after our meeting with the breast surgeon, Brett and I went to a nearby restaurant to have some pizza together. When I had originally received my cancer diagnosis, I had been scared and desperate to keep my breasts. After talking to the breast surgeon, I was cheerfully determined to make sure my cancer would not affect my life after this. I told Brett, “I’m going to have my breasts removed.”

She squeezed my hand and said, “I support your choice.”

Brett’s input into my decision about my body and health earlier that day had been nothing but unqualified support. And I knew, whatever happened with how Brett presented her gender identity, I would love and find her as attractive as ever.

There was no doubt in her heart that I would be just as beautiful to her without my breasts. There was no doubt in my heart that she would be just as beautiful to me appearing as the woman she has always been.

So I told her that I love and would support her; our son and I would be with her on this journey. Just as I had to do what was best for my well-being in dealing with my cancer, Brett needed to do what was best to express her gender identity.

Brett and I held each other and cried. We cried for the harshness of me having to deal with breast cancer at a young age. We cried for Brett putting words to a beautiful truth she had come to after a long period of introspection. We knew, whatever challenges the future might hold for one of us going through breast cancer and the other a gender transition at the same time, we would be together going along to wherever life would take us.


Check out Beatrice’s #YWBC profile here.

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