Rockford woman shares story of transgender transformation

What would you do if your husband said they were a woman?

By BETH ALTENA

She is a normal woman, living and working in Rockford and thought she had a happy marriage. She loves nature, being outdoors, friends and family. She married the love of her life and they were married for 24 years. Looking back, she had some hints that things were not what they seemed but she never would have guessed before her husband told her. He was really a woman, born into a male’s body.

The Other Shoe, Beyond Our Vows, is the book she wrote about her experience and penned under the name Serenity Sole. The book was therapeutic for her and she isn’t sure she achieved her goal of an inspirational product. The book tells her story. A documentary and then another tells her husband’s story. Going under the name Jay in the book, not his, now her, real name, Jay came to realize that he wasn’t ever the boy he was born as, or the man he grew to be.

“He would do things like wear girls cut-offs to work. He said they were comfortable and they were on sale, so I didn’t care,” Serenity described. Her husband worked in construction and if the women’s shorts were more comfortable, that was fine by her. He was in a band and was gone from the home for long periods of time. She thought that was just the way it was in their marriage. She was clueless.

She said it never entered her mind there was something else going on. In her introduction to the book, available online at serenitysole.com, she said she understood as a girl of faith that she would marry a man if she ever married. When she came to believe her husband believed himself to be a woman, their marriage ended.

“It made me think so much about our wedding vows,” she said. “For richer or poorer, in sickness and health.”

“We lost everything, we went bankrupt. But you can lose everything over other things, too. There are various reasons things can go wrong.”

But it made me think, what is richness, what is health?” She always believed she would be true to the vows she exchanged on her wedding day, had faith that God is in control over everything that happens. But this was a hurdle she never expected to have to conquer. “I had to stand by my husband, it’s what you do.”

She said the idea of being married to another woman wasn’t one she could contemplate, but her husband didn’t want to split up. “It took four years to get divorced.”

She said she always believes each story has two sides and she has worked hard to understand the world from Jay’s perspective. “Imagine being born in the 1960s. You’re a boy because you are.”

Their daughter was eleven when Jay told her he was actually a woman. Daughter and father were pretty close. Another clue was those two did their nails together, picking polish and putting it on. At the time, that made sense, too. “I never did my nails, so that was something those two did together.” It made sense to me.

Looking back, she believes others might have realized the truth before Jay told her. He waited until he was doing electrolysis and was on hormones. She said when she told her cousin what was going on with Jay, the cousin wasn’t at all surprised. “She just said, ‘Of course.’”

When asked if her friends or family should have told her their suspicions, she shook her head. “I think that might have caused more conflict.” Still, “I felt awful that other people knew before I knew.”

The book has taken a long time, as has her acceptance of the turn her life took. She started writing in 2001 when all this was happening. Since then Jay has made the complete transformation to her true gender and has moved out of state. She stays in touch with her daughter.

“Of course they still have a relationship. If you have a loving parent, you don’t push that away.”

She said Jay is very happy with her life now, despite all the pain and changes that were along the way. Now, Serenity said she feels good about the accomplishment of a completed book and the long self examination it took to put her story into print. The book is available for purchase at the website as well at serenitysole.com. It only very  recently was published and not very many people have read it yet. Serenity hopes it can help someone else work through the very unexpected turns that life can take you on.

“I meant it to be inspirational, but I don’t know if that’s how it turned out. The few people who have read it have given me a hug.”