One couple’s not-so-typical road to marriage

Leslie McMurrayWhen I came out as transgender, I had been married for 33 years. I had two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I also had a great job doing what I loved.

However, it quickly became clear that my marriage was over. So I reluctantly sought a referral for an attorney.

I was referred to an attorney named Katie Sprinkle. We traded emails, and she referred me to someone else to handle my divorce, since she didn’t really handle family law cases. I thanked her and moved on with the process.

Sometime later, Katie sent me an email asking how things were going. We traded emails and texts focused on how my case was going and because we are both transgender, we had some common ground. We also discussed our transition progress and shared resources.

In one way, it was a stereotypical lesbian romance — a few months later, we met face-to-face for the first time, having lunch at the Tin Star in Plano. The next time she saw me, I was driving a U-Haul, moving in to her townhouse in Marble Falls.

Ha-ha. Yuck it up.

But there was more to it than that, and romance was the last thing on either of our minds.

That first night, after struggling to push a queen-size bed up a long flight of stairs, we were both exhausted physically. I was also spent mentally. I had nothing left. I just needed a place where I could recharge. In a very short period of time, I had lost my marriage, my house, my job and most of my stuff.

All of what was familiar to me was gone. I was starting over.

That first night, Katie made me spaghetti. We ate on paper plates. There was no thought of romance on either of our minds.

Katie was stressed at work because she couldn’t fully transition. This led to us moving back to Dallas a couple of months later. We moved into a townhouse in Carrollton. We began dating — but not each other.

And here’s where our path veers from the traditional: We had a lot in common.

Though Katie is nine years younger, it doesn’t feel like it. We both have a wicked sense of humor. We also now work in jobs where we do our best to help those for whom society has no use. We were often inseparable on weekends, so much so that if either of us showed up without the other we were asked “Where’s Leslie?”or “Where’s Katie.”

Everyone we knew assumed we were dating.

And honestly, I had developed a crush on Katie. After we’d been living together for maybe a year, I confessed to her that I had feelings for her beyond mere friendship, and that I could see the relationship we had becoming something more.

Katie, a self described “commitment-phobe,” shook it off.

The funny thing was, we already had a joint checking account and never-ever fought about money. In fact, we really never fought about anything.

Katie would talk about the future, and knowing I am a dog person she would say things like “when we get a house,” and that would give me butterflies.

But we weren’t “dating.” I was not a girlfriend, and she wouldn’t hold my hand, not in public or private. I respected her boundaries, but everyone around us could sense that we were a couple in every way but in name.

Katie and I would lay on my bed and talk late into the night as I rubbed her back. This would go on for hours, then she’d get up and go into her bedroom. I dreamed of the night she would stay.

Then, 14 months after I moved in with Katie, we had a heart-to-heart and I asked if she would be willing to try us being a couple. She agreed.

What followed has been a love story like any other.

My kids adore Katie and loved her right off the bat. They see how happy I am when she’s around.

We rented a house in Coppell for a while and we now have two border collies. And Katie gave me a promise ring in 2015 that brought me to tears.

But in typical Katie fashion, she wouldn’t really say what the promise was.

“Baby steps,” she’d say often.

Katie isn’t someone you can rush.

Last year, we bought our own house together. I guess that’s commitment. I love the house and all we’ve done to make it our own.

On March 7 of this year, I came home from work in a great mood. I let the dogs in and loved on them. Katie gave me a long hug then asked if I’d check the guest room.

When I did, there was a big stuffed dog with a sign that said, “Leslie, will you spend the rest of your life with Katie?”

Of course I said yes, and I buried my face in her neck and cried happy tears.

Our wedding will be this September, at our home, with the Rev. Steve Sprinkle (no relation that we know of) presiding.

I’m so lucky to have a woman like Katie. I will cherish her until my last breath on this Earth.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.