One Wife's Story

Mimi Fuenzalida

2017 - Ongoing

Marcy and Scottie are a middle-aged married couple living in a beautiful craftsman house perched atop the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. They describe their relationship as one full of laughter and love.

Despite being fourteen years older than her groom, Marcy and Scott married in April, 1989. Their love was what Marcy always wanted—someone who never stopped being romantic and attentive to her needs, someone with whom she laughed a lot and who made her feel safe.

Soon after their 20th anniversary, Scott burst into tears one morning while bringing her coffee in bed. He confessed that he thought he was a woman. At first, Marcy thought Scott was going through a midlife crisis, but soon realized her husband had been suffering all his life with what’s called gender dysphoria and wasn’t able to keep it in any longer.

In an effort to understand what her husband was experiencing, Marcy began to educate herself about what this meant for Scott and for the two of them. Scott, who now wanted to be called “Scottie”, began seeing a therapist. Together they spent five years in silence — not telling anyone what they were going through. As they embarked on a deep journey of discovery as a couple, life threw many more challenges their way. (you could say – including a cancer diagnosis for Marcy – but I remember you said you didn’t want to give it away) .

This story deals with the complex array of emotions, values and cultural imprints they each had to look at as their marriage was put to the test.

In a 2016 report, it was estimated that nearly 1.4 million adults in the U.S. were reported to be transgender. As the idea of being a transsexual individual becomes more socially acceptable, there’s an increase of people who opt for sex reassignment surgery. Of the 3,256 surgeries that have been reported in the United States, 54% were male-to-female. Only a small percentage of had a spouse at their side during the process.

Through a series of portraits, paired with honest quotes from Marcy and Scottie, we follow the two as they open up about the most intimate aspects of their relationship. One Wife's Story speaks about the unbreakability of love.

I am continuing to document Scottie after Marcy's passing.

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  • "What people need to understand about being transgender is that you don't have anything but your own words, or what someone else has invented, to describe what you’re going through and those words never fit all the way."
    - Scottie

  • For twenty years, Scott brought Marcy her coffee in bed, a ritual they both cherished.

    But one of those mornings, he burst into tears and confessed, 'I don't know who I am anymore, I think I am a woman'.

  • "I had so many ‘I want to leave’ thoughts. ‘I don't get this.’ ‘Fix him.’ I was praying to Baba. ‘Please Baba, make him my husband.’" -Marcy

  • "I came out to Marcy five years before I came out to the rest of the world. So we had five years of trying to deal with it. What we were really doing was inner work. We were sitting with those decisions or revelations."

  • "I started going to therapy. I knew I had six weeks to get a diagnosis because it was costing $175 bucks an hour. ‘Tell me what I am, a transexual or a cross dresser?’ " -Scottie

  • "Something started to break down, including my own concepts about everything. ‘What is love? What is commitment? What is a marriage? What is a husband? What is a wife?’" -Marcy

  • "Surgery always seemed inevitable—even when I rationalized that it was going to be in my next lifetime. ‘Dear God, let me be myself, the woman that I am.’ That was my prayer."- Scottie
    The discussion of surgery got postponed when Marcy got diagnosed with cancer. The focus became to Marcy and her health.

  • "When Scottie said she wanted to get her ears pierced, I still wasn't ready for the whole 9 yards, but it was sort of a shift because I said, ‘Ok let's go to Claire's.’ In retrospect, that's when I became engaged [in the process] and it was us instead of you." - Marcy

  • Scottie noticed that when they got into bed, Marcy wouldn't touch her. "I don't know how to touch a woman", Marcy admitted. Scottie explained, "That's what we had to learn. We had to develop a new sense of intimacy."

  • "I realized that this is the same soul, heart, spirit that I've always been with—that didn't change. When I realized that, I thought, ‘So what? What's different?’" - Marcy

  • In 2017 Scottie had her gender reassignment surgery. Six months later Marcy’s cancer came back.

  • In October 2018, with Scottie at her side, Marcy died. "She was at peace, joyful, even ecstatic as she transitioned. And I was shattered into a million pieces". -Scottie