|'He' Becomes 'She': Husband's Transformation|
|By ELIZABETH S. JOSEPH and NARIA HALLIWELL||Jul 19, 2009, 9:39 PM|
In the year 2009, two women living together as a couple may not be typical, but it is not unheard of.
Both lifelong residents of northern Ohio, Chloe and Rene Prince met in March 2000 as neighbors and fell in love. Within three months they were married. They are now raising two young boys, Logan, 7, and Barry, 6.
Their story is similar to that of most couples struggling to balance work, finances and raising young children. But Chloe and Rene live with a secret that has affected their relationship, their families, their friends and even their children: Chloe was born a man.
Born and raised as Ted, Chloe had a typical childhood, she said.
Watch the full story on "Primetime: Family Secrets," TUESDAY at 10 p.m. ET.
"I was a happy little boy. I had my Tonka trucks like every little boy out there, and I played in the sandbox," Prince told ABC News' Juju Chang. "I used to fool around in the backyard -- I'd take apart my bicycle and put it back together and just get into mischief."
But Ted was also confused.
"I had a sister and [when] I would see her clothes, I didn't like my clothes [as] much as I did hers. But with the family I had, even at 4 years old, I was already very aware of society, of what was expected of a boy and what is expected of a girl."
For Ted, it was about more than clothing. He also struggled with gender confusion, which affects an estimated 1 million to 3 million people across the United States. Unbeknownst to his family, Ted continued to secretly dress in female clothing throughout his youth, even going as far as opening a P.O. box as a teenager in order to receive shipments of lingerie.
In his twenties, his confusion began to affect his personal life. Citing that she needed to "be with a real man," his girlfriend of several years decided to leave the relationship.
Desperate to get his life back on track, several months later, Ted started dating and eventually proposed to Rene, a neighbor that he said he had admired for years. Though things moved fast, neither questioned the instant connection.
"I just loved talking to him, and we enjoyed being together," Rene said. "I just thought he was a great guy. [He was] what I'd been praying for."
Before getting married, Ted knew he had to tell Rene his secret.
"I told Rene right before we got married. I said, 'I need to have a conversation with you.' And I got really serious with her. Normally I'm a happy-go-lucky type person, so she knew it was serious."
Instead of trying to convey it in words, Ted decided to show her -- in his closet.
"I opened up the closet and I said, 'Everything in this room belongs to me. Everything in here is mine,'" he said.
Ted explained that cross-dressing was something he didn't want to continue, but he knew there was something more to it than the allure of female clothing. After confiding in her, Ted told Rene he had seen a counselor, and she thought it was something she could accept from the man she loved.
"I just thought that was an aspect of him that I could live with. I didn't think too much of it, really," she told ABC News. "It wasn't something that was going to interfere with our lives."
Ted and Rene got married at a private wedding ceremony in the Poconos. Within months, Rene was pregnant with their first son, Logan, and that was when things first started to unravel.
CLICK HERE to see photos of Chloe's transformation.
Chloe Prince: 'Everything's Changing'
For reasons unknown to Rene, Ted became distant and started to pay more attention to projects around the house than to his pregnant wife. At a time when many couples feel renewed intimacy, Ted had a very different emotion: jealousy.
"I wanted to be the one there carrying this baby, you know," said Chloe. "And I wanted to feel that life inside me."
By the summer of 2003, life had settled into a reliable rhythm for Ted and Rene. Ted's stash of women's clothing in closets and hidden boxes had grown, but not significantly. Although still confused, Ted was able to occupy idle hands with work and the birth of a second son, Barry.
"We became pregnant with Logan just six months after our marriage," said Chloe. "And within two years, we had two children, [a] house, [a] mortgage. Everything's changing."
One day, while out on a motorcycle ride, Ted was stung several times by a bee. He was severely allergic to bee stings, so Rene rushed him to the hospital.
"They start putting me on IVs of epinephrine and different hormones, trying to counter and stop this bee sting reaction," Chloe said.
A blood test at the hospital led to an endocrinologist and a diagnosis that Chloe said explained why she had felt so different her whole life.
"They sat me down and they said, 'Are you aware of having Klinefelter's syndrome?' And I [said] 'No, what is that? Never heard of [it].'"
Klinefelter's syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities in humans. Normally, a male is born with XY chromosomes and a female XX, but an estimated one in every 500 boys is born XXY. One of the main side effects of Klinefelter's syndrome is a much lower level of testosterone than the average male.
The news of his medical condition was a moment of clarity for Ted, who for so long had struggled with gender identity issues.
"The veil was off," said Chloe. "I was like, this is why, you know, I tap dance like a little cat on the fence of the gender line -- why I can't commit to either side. Appearance-wise, I look like every other male, but on a DNA-chromosomal scale, I was neither."
Chloe says the doctors told them that the severity of the sting had essentially reset Ted's endocrine system, according to Chloe. Gradually, his body started to change. Initially, Rene thought Ted was gaining weight, but they knew something else was going on when he started developing breasts.
"I had muscular arms, [but] all that started to change with Klinefelter's shifting the dynamics of my endocrine system. I could see that the fat density in my face and my body, the softness of my skin, my muscular features were all changing at that point," Chloe said.
With an actual medical diagnosis to help explain why he had felt different his whole life, Ted felt free to express his true identity.
"I wanted to physically align my body in appearance with how I felt inside. I wanted to be authentically myself -- which was female. I didn't feel like I needed to prove myself anymore to my father, to the world, to my mom. I didn't need to be a man."
But for Rene, it was incredibly painful to watch the man she loved disappear.
Chloe Prince: 'Not All About Yourself'
"Rene saw it on a daily basis," said Chloe. "Each day, it was another death for her because it would be something -- I would start adding earrings or I started adding a woman's ring on my finger."
For the next two years, Ted lived predominantly as a man, but in a sort of gender no-man's land, a hybrid. He grew his hair out, but would pull it back into a ponytail for work. He would wear men's clothes, but with women's accents. More and more, he felt compelled to become a she.
Four years after the bee sting, Ted officially changed his name to Chloe Alison Prince and began living life as a woman.
Transgender guidelines recommend a transsexual live in their gender of choice for one year before they undergo gender reassignment surgery. The longer period of transition for Ted did not lessen the shock for Rene was she was told that her husband was going to become a woman.
"I didn't want to accept it and begged, pleaded [and] cried, 'Please don't, you can't do this!'" said Rene. "'Honor your mother and father -- the kids need a dad!' There was an inner turmoil within Chloe. There was nothing I could say that would change those feelings."
Feeling as if he had no choice, Ted, now Chloe, forged ahead and in May 2008, flew to Thailand, a country known for their gender reassignment surgeons. Chloe underwent 13 hours of major surgeries. Her male brow bone was shaved down, and she had a vaginoplasty and labiaplasty.
Chloe understands that her choice to transition to living as a woman has not only affected her, but all those around her.
"Transition's not all about yourself. When you decide to transition, everybody else transitions with you. When I chose to be a girl, when I chose to be Chloe, everybody else is forced to make decisions as well," she said.
Would Chloe return home as Rene's husband, or wife? Would she be considered her sons' father or mother? Is she her parents' son or daughter? How did she return to the same job as a different gender? How would her rural Ohio community react to her?
ABC News' "Primetime" spent a year following Chloe Prince and learning firsthand of the everyday struggles that she and her family face due to her transition. Watch "Primetime: Family Secrets" on Tuesday, July 21 to get a glimpse into the Prince home, and watch as, not only a woman, but as a whole family transforms.