A journey from husband to transwoman after 8 years of marriage

By Phan Duong   June 22, 2024 | 03:04 pm PT
Once known as a rugged man who rode large motorcycles, six months ago Le suddenly told his wife he wanted to "live as a woman." She wholeheartedly supported the idea.

One morning in June, at their home in Da Nang City’s Lien Chieu district, Le, 41, now known as Thuy Tien, wears a beautiful dress and light makeup, dons a wig and settles into the sofa to eat some pastries and listen to jazz music before starting work.

"Never in my life have I been as happy as I have been in the past six months living as a woman," the software engineer says contentedly.

The youngest sibling in the family and with two older sisters, Tien knew from a young age that he was "a girl inside."

He enjoyed wearing princess dresses and boat shoes for women, playing with dolls and applying rosy makeup on her cheeks.

He had to suppress these desires due to societal norms and fear of being ridiculed as effeminate. But every night he longed to be his "true self."

Tien had confided in his then girlfriend and now wife Nguyen Minh Anh Huy about his preference for women's clothing.

"When he confessed, I thought it was just a fondness," the 37-year-old says. She says she loved him for his gentle nature, thoughtfulness, not smoking, and immaculate grooming.

Thuy Tien on a motorcycle trip in late 2023. Photo provided by Tien

Thuy Tien on a motorcycle trip in late 2023. Photo provided by Tien

During their eight-year marriage Tien has been a husband "without flaws," the family’s breadwinner, a dutiful son for his parents and parents-in-law, a person who enjoyed riding large motorcycles, collecting vinyl records and usually wearing "cool" outfits, she says.

When they built a house a few years ago Tien meticulously decorated every part of it.

For the kitchen, he bought everything from baking supplies to porcelain cookware and enamelware.

Besides cooking food daily, Tien also made fresh noodles and pastries, and took care of the balcony garden and hanging flowerpots.

Tien says: "As I thought I would never look like a beautiful woman, I only express my femininity through doing daily household chores."

Now unabashedly a transwoman, six months ago Tien lost weight and gained the confidence to wear women's clothing. She persuaded her wife to hire a photographer to come home for a photo shoot.

Recalling that magical day Huy says the two sat together for a makeup artist and then went to change clothes in separate rooms. "When she walked out of the room wearing a flowing dress, long wig and high heels, I was stunned by how beautiful she looked."

The reaction of her wife and close friends encouraged Tien to live as a woman.

Since Huy had got to know her husband, she was not shocked, but warned her there would be difficulties and pressures that they and their children would face. "When I fell in love with her and watched the movie 'The Danish Girl,' I promised myself that if my husband were in a similar position to the main character, I would support her."

Tien (R) and her wife in April 2024. Photo provided by Tien

Tien (R) and her wife in April 2024. Photo provided by Tien

Since then theirs has been a family of four women. Tien regularly wears feminine clothes and her wardrobe contains dozens of long dresses, 15 pairs of heels and several new handbags.

Shots of female hormones and losing 17kg have accentuated her feminine features.

One of her joys is dressing up with her wife for coffee with friends. She surprises them each time with her appearance and gentle feminity. Many friends think she has become beautiful thanks to her wife's advice, but the truth is that Huy does nothing but take photos of her husband.

"All the femininity was already within her, just waiting for the opportunity to be expressed," she says.

Tien gradually came out to friends and both sides of the family. Most understood and supported her, except for her mother, who was shocked and has not fully accepted her.

Tien says: "At first my daughters covered their eyes when they saw their dad wearing an ao dai (traditional tunic) and makeup, but now they always praise 'dad for being beautiful'.

"My male friends now say they probably cannot gossip with me about men's matters anymore."

The couple was most surprised by the reaction of Huy's mother, Tuyet Van. Initially shocked upon hearing the news, she soon praised her son-in-law as being more beautiful than her daughter.

She has offered the couple spiritual support, and proudly shows off photos of Tien, regardless of neighbors' comments.

She tells Tien "you have fulfilled your duty to the family, now be true to yourself. "This life is impermanent, just live a happy life."

She promised to visit Da Nang to dress up with her son-in-law and take photos together.

Tien takes care of everything at home, from growing flowers and vegetables to other things. Photo provided by Tien

Tien takes care of everything at home, from growing flowers and vegetables to other things. Photo provided by Tien

Though a transgender lesbian, she still loves her wife though she is transitioning, Tien says.

She is currently receiving hormone therapy and plans to undergo breast surgery by the end of this year followed by a complete gender reassignment surgery.

For Huy, even if her husband undergoes gender affirmation surgery, Tien is still her husband the father of their children.

"If it were simply love, I might have stopped. However, with what he has done for me, our children and the companionship of eight years of marriage, our relationship has turned into compassionate love."

"Now seeing my husband happy, I know I made the right choice."

For Tien, with the support of family and friends, especially her wife and two children, she believes she will have a happier ending than the character Lili Elbe in the movie 'The Danish Girl.'

"I will live a brilliant life, even if it's just a glimpse, in this beautiful world."

go to top