Taylor Vanmalsen, 29, lived as a male until 2018 but getting married and becoming a parent gave her the courage to transition.
Now living as a transgender woman, Taylor, from Michigan, US, says that having surgery and embracing who she is has strengthened the relationship with her wife Sarah, 27.
She is no longer depressed and able to give Sarah her ‘full affection’.
Taylor said: ‘I want to show other trans people that you can still be happily married.
‘Trans partners may look a little different on the outside but they are still the same person but happier.
‘I am now becoming the real Taylor. I decided to keep my birth name which I hated as a boy.
‘Ironically people used to always say “that sounds like a girl’s name”.’
Taylor used her life savings and a credit card to help with surgery during transitioning.
She had her brow reduced and Adam’s apple removed along with breast augmentation and lip filler – but decided not to have gender reassignment surgery yet.
She said: ‘My main priority was presenting as a female so I can be me.
‘However, I am still trying to find my confidence when it comes to shopping and going into public toilets – I often just hold it as I don’t want to get beat up by men or screamed at by women.’
Soon after they started dating, Taylor told Sarah about her feelings about being trans which helped the couple form a strong bond, but Taylor did not want to tell other people and continued to live as male.
She adds: ‘Sarah was the first person I ever told and she was thankful for my honesty.
‘It was weird at the beginning as she stayed with me even though she knew my secret.
‘I feel like I was cheating her out of a spouse before as I was always down and just a shell of myself.
‘But now I am able to be me, and give Sarah all my love and affection.’
After getting married, Taylor and Sarah were able to have a baby, while Taylor was still living as a man but becoming a parent made her realise she wanted to be honest with everyone and transition.
Taylor preserved her fertility prior to transitioning so they can expand their family in the future.
Sarah, who is a customer service trainer, went to a therapist for eight months to help her deal with anxiety and come to terms with being in a ‘lesbian’ relationship.
She then prompted Taylor to begin transitioning as she was worried about how unhappy she was living as a man.
Sarah said: ‘I lived a pretty sheltered life and didn’t know what trans was so when Taylor first told me I just said “ok thank you for letting me know” and we just got on with it.
‘But as the years passed, Taylor got more and more depressed and the ‘secret’ was really bothering her.
‘I began suffering with anxiety as I feared I may return from work one day and Taylor may have hurt herself as she was that low.
‘I knew the only way to put an end to the depression would be a transition but I wasn’t able to fully come to terms with it over night.
‘The therapist helped me overcome my anxiety and I also had to work on what it will be like.
‘I discovered it wouldn’t matter and all of my ‘what if’s’ were worked on – I thought I would be sad but I couldn’t be happier.
‘It is refreshing to see Taylor truly feel happy and slowly but surely gain some confidence in who she really is.
‘I don’t put a label on what we are but to make it simple then I guess I am in a lesbian relationship.’
Although it took her some to come to adjust, Sarah said that people shouldn’t praise her for ‘staying in the relationship’ because she knew from the beginning.
She said: ‘People think I am awesome for staying in the relationship but I didn’t have to say yes to marriage – I knew who Taylor was from the beginning.
‘It would have been a shock if she had told me ten years later!
‘I fell in love with Taylor, for Taylor and it is amazing to see how much happier she is.
‘We will be open and honest with Valerie reading kid-friendly books but to us, it doesn’t matter as she has two parents who love her – no matter what.’