Freelance writer Diane Daniel is receiving a significant response from media after telling her story of having watched her partner Lina transition two months into their marriage together. Although the transition was sometimes difficult for Diane to understand, her experience and acceptance sends a positive message for other people who may be in a committed relationship or have a family at the time of their own transitions.
Diane’s heartwarming piece appeared in the Boston Globe last week, where she recalls her initial reaction of confusion and sadness, as well as Lina’s own feelings of happiness and relief. “Gradually, with communication and affection, I (re)opened my heart. I faced my shame,” Diane wrote, who realized that her love for Lina did not change, consequently making “the hardest part the easiest.”
After Diane and Lina survived their own personal journey together, Diane became more involved in advocacy for transgender equality. “The transgender rights movement speaks in more of a whisper,” as opposed to the larger LGB equality movement, writes Diane. She goes on to say that while not all relationships may survive a transition, friends, family, and allies of the transgender community “have a special opportunity to help foster understanding. We’re on the front lines, on the side of love.”
The couple’s story has also appeared in other media outlets. ABC News wrote an outstanding, sentimental piece that demonstrated Diane and Lina’s commitment to each other. “Slowly, Diane was able to open her heart, and their story illustrates the complex world of sexuality and gender and the power of love,” writes Susan Donaldson James in the article. Diane continues to identify as straight, and remains attracted to men, but says that doesn’t affect how she feels about Lina. “If I had love in the beginning, I still have it.” Diane explained to the Daily Mail, “Once you’ve fallen in love with the spirit of someone, with the essence of who they are, it’s a strong force.”
Her sentiment represents a call for acceptance and understanding towards the estimated 750,000 Americans who identify as transgender, as the ABC News article points out. The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force published a report in February of this year, titled “Injustice at Every Turn,” which shows that transgender people face discrimination in virtually every system and institution in America. Stories like Diane and Lina’s are integral to raising the visibility of the transgender community and decreasing these statistics. “I believe it was our willingness to be open, vulnerable, and honest that allowed people to see us as real people going through something rare but nonetheless part of the human experience,” Diane says. “I feel like I can be more myself than I have ever been and enjoying every minute of that at home or at work,” Lina adds. “I am embracing life to the fullest.”
Diane also points out that she is not alone in her experience. Jennifer Finney Boylan, a GLAAD board member and current op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, documented her own transition after getting married and having two children in her widely acclaimed autobiography “She’s Not There.” Helen Boyd, author of “My Husband Betty,” is another prominent voice for spouses of transgender people. Boyd says that her partner “is still as charming and still the person who can make me laugh when I don't want to laugh about anything. We still share the same world view and she knows me better than any other human being.”
GLAAD applauds the Boston Globe for giving Diane the opportunity to tell her story, and for emphasizing the love between her and Lina rather than the sensationalism that often accompanies stories about transgender issues. GLAAD also thanks ABC News for its especially positive and accurate portrayal of Diane and Lina, and encourages media to continue shining a light on this inspiring story.