When Chastity Bono, now Chaz, announced several weeks ago, he’d be transitioning to male from female, I immediately wondered how his girlfriend would take it. That’s because Chaz’s sex change means his girlfriend, who previously had a girlfriend, now has a boyfriend.

Come to think of it, Chaz’s sex change will now make him a heterosexual male. The physical changes are just the beginning when a person changes gender. It’s what follows that can get complicated.

Changing sexes may be the beginning of a new life for one-half of a couple, but for the other half, it means switching sexual preferences if the relationship is going to continue. While some people are bi-sexual, most prefer one sex over the other, which is why changing your sexual preference to save a relationship is pretty difficult. In fact, many people can’t.

When “Rachel” transitioned to female from male several years ago, she lost the woman she’d loved for the past 33 years. Says Rachel, “My wife was my best friend for such a long time, but she wasn’t a lesbian and couldn’t change her sexuality.”

“Kimberley” would prefer to transition to female from male, but hasn’t because she doesn’t want to end her 34-year marriage. She feels great anxiety staying in a male body, but knows she’d lose her wife. Kimberley explains, “My wife can’t see past a person’s sexual identity.”

If heterosexuals feel odd having their sexual preferences challenged, gay people have the same difficulty. Kimberley’s support group often encounters the issue. “Many trans-men identify as lesbians before realizing they’re male but their partners don’t want a heterosexual relationship.”

Ironically, both Rachel and Kimberley prefer women, which they always have, but by changing sexes, they’re now lesbians, although their actual sexual preferences haven’t changed. Says Rachel, “I’ve always liked women.”

Rachel says she’s seen some couples survive a transition. “I know two couples who have stayed together — one isn’t intimate and I’m not sure about the other.” In certain cases people are gender blind. One lesbian tells me she’d love her partner as a man or a woman, but when I ask her why she doesn’t date men, she can’t answer.

As Lysander in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream lamented, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Little did he know how complicated the course of true love was about to become.

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