POINT OF VIEW

From Whitney to Kaden: I stuck by my transgender partner through his transition

Two years ago, Hilary Aitcheson met Whitney. They started going out. Then Whitney came out as Kaden. Here's what it has been like for Aitcheson to work through Kaden's transition with him.
When Hilary Aitcheson (right) first met Kaden Thorp, he was introduced as "Whitney." Thorp later came out to Aitcheson as a transgender male. (Submitted by Hilary Aitcheson)

I first noticed my boyfriend in December 2016 at a Christmas party at Q Nightclub in Regina. He had the bluest eyes and the kindest looking face.

A mutual friend introduced us, calling him "Whitney." It wasn't exactly the name I was expecting, considering this person seemed masculine to me. The name Whitney just didn't seem to fit. But she was cute and we exchanged numbers anyway.

We really got to know each other over the next few weeks. At the time, Whitney lived in Edmonton, so we would see each other some weekends, but we would spend most of our time texting and talking on Facetime. By February, things were getting pretty intense.

One night, Whitney finally came out and told me: she's female-to-male transgender, actually goes by the name Kaden (Kade), and prefers he/him pronouns. Turns out Kade had been in the process of figuring out his identity when we met and although he was out to some people, he had been afraid to tell me.

I wasn't shocked, really, but I could tell this had been weighing on Kade for some time.

Kaden Thorp (pictured) came out to his partner two years ago as transgender. (Submitted by Hilary Aitcheson)

I accepted this change with open arms. It really didn't seem like that big of a deal.

And it wasn't.

But I also naively thought it wouldn't really affect me. I figured this was something that Kade was going through and I just needed to be there for him as a strong and supportive partner.

While the idea of Kade transitioning made sense as he didn't seem like a "girl" to me anyway, it was still a change I would need to get used to. It wasn't even the relationship between Kade and I that changed; it was the rest of the world that made things hard for me.

I had to change my language when talking to friends, family and coworkers. Anybody who knew of "Whitney" now had to know of "Kade" instead. It was a very personal, very uncomfortable and very scary conversation to have.

My immediate friends and family were wonderfully accepting and loving, for the most part, but the rest of the world wasn't so kind. I found myself constantly being drilled about what it means to be transgender; whether Kade had had any surgeries; what this means about my identity; and blunt questions like, "So does he have a penis then or what?"

I love Kade so much and I felt like I was exposing him for people to judge. It was a terrible feeling. I found myself defending him and his decision to transition to nosy people I barely knew.

At first it wasn't so bad. I was passionate and ready to fight anyone who was going to speak poorly about Kade or transgender people in general.

Kade opened my eyes up to a beautiful community of people blossoming into who they were always supposed to be.

But eventually, the whole experience started wearing on me. I had processing I needed to do on my own.

I tried really hard to seek help. I remember staying up all night on Google, trying to find someone else in the world who was in my situation; someone else who could help me navigate these difficult conversations; and someone to talk to about all the changes that were happening with Kade's mind and body. I was disappointed by a visit to a LGBT-specific therapist in Regina.

It was a strange feeling because I had the most supportive partner in the world lying right beside me but I still felt so lonely.

Hilary Aitcheson (left) says she accepted Kaden Thorp's transition 'with open arms. It really didn’t seem like that big of a deal.' (Submitted by Hilary Aitcheson)

It's been about two years since Kade came out as transgender to me and about a year and a half since he started testosterone. There have been a few minor changes (both physical and mental) but the biggest changes are the positive ones I see in Kade.

He is so much happier and so much more comfortable in his own skin. He no longer takes drastic precautions to try to hide his birth sex from people or the fact that he is transgender. If anything, he now embraces his feminine side more than he ever has before.

Dating Kade is neat in that sense, because I now have a masculine and handsome boyfriend who spent the first 21 years of his life as a woman, so he also feels like a sweet and loving "girl" best friend. I always tell my friends: dating someone like Kade is the best of both worlds!


This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.


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About the Author

Hilary Aitcheson

Hilary Aitcheson is a student at the University of Regina interested in pursuing a career working with adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. She also loves working at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar as a server. She has lived with Kade for about a year and a half, and they just got an American bully puppy named Sage. They also have a cat named Molly.