Jenni and Sarah Barrett, from Phoenix, Arizona, married in 2005.
At the time, Sarah, who’s male at birth, went by the name Sean. The pair met at Arizona State University while they were training to be teachers.
“Three years later, when he found out I’d broken up with my ex, he got our friend to throw a house party so we could meet,” Jenni explained. “We always joke that he was my stalker, but really we’ve been inseparable ever since.”
“I knew he was The One as soon as he gave me a killer head massage that same night. I told myself I’d play hard to get after he left a voicemail trying to set up a second date. I waited 20 minutes before calling him back – that’s how hard I was to get,” Jenni continued.
In the following years, the couple had children, Morgan and Toby. Shortly after Toby’s birth, Jenni noticed Sarah began to wear women’s clothes around the house.
“It was obvious that if she had an entire wardrobe of women’s clothes, she would be wearing them somewhere,” Jenni said. “There were clues, too. I’d be doing the laundry and there would be women’s clothes that I definitely hadn’t worn – so I knew Sarah must have been wearing them.”
“Looking back, part of me was scared to have my suspicions confirmed, another part of me didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to point the finger and be wrong. It didn’t feel like my place,” Jenni said.
Meanwhile, Jenni and Sarah suspected that their eldest son, Morgan, might be gay. When Morgan started secondary school in 2016, the parents discussed how they wanted their son to be ‘comfortable enough to come out as gay’. The conversation led Sarah to think about the way she identified, and encouraged her to ‘hold up a mirror to herself and come out as trans.’
“Sarah rolled over one evening in the bed in 2016 and told me, ‘I really need to talk to you – I think I’m trans,’” Jenni said. “I’d come to realize why I’d always been so drawn to her, it was because of who she was on the inside – a woman – and not her shell. I turned around and said, ‘That’s OK – I think I’m gay’”
“We’ve had conversations since about this time in our lives and it turns out we were both silently Googling. I was looking up, ‘Is my partner transgender?’ and Sarah was Googling, ‘Am I transgender?’” Jenni added.
The couple told their sons about Sarah’s transition, and they believe their experiences helped Morgan become his ‘true authentic self’ as he came out as gay two years later.
“I made the decision to persevere and be with Sarah regardless – she’s my soulmate. People never believe it, but I can honestly say that I never felt any betrayal or sense of being lied to,” Jenni explained.
“Since Sarah came out we have been closer than ever – in all ways – and when we are being intimate, we act as if that part of her isn’t there.”
In July 2017, Sarah started hormone therapy, and now takes a combination of testosterone blockers and estrogen daily. She is due to have gender confirmation surgery next year, and she feels the operation will be the ‘final chapter’ in her journey.
“It’s the final barrier stopping me from entirely seeing myself as a woman. There’s no rule book to being trans, but this is something I know I need to do. And it’s fantastic to know that Jenni and our boys will support me all the way,” Sarah said.