Shattering Glass Slippers: Beyond Binary Fairytales

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom of fairytales…but not the one you remember. No glass slippers clinked on cobblestone streets, and tiaras graced more than just the heads of queens and princesses. In this kingdom, happily-ever-after wasn’t just reserved for damsels saved by valiant knights but was destined for hearts that beat to their own rhythms, regardless of the labels society tried to bind them with. This is the story of shattering glass slippers, not just because they pinch but because they symbolize a happily-ever-after confined by outdated notions of who deserves to wear the crown.

This is a tale of true love and happily-ever-after. It does, in fact, begin with a “handsome prince” finding true love with a princess. However, this is not the typical fairytale, so settle in, dear reader, and prepare to explore a kingdom where happily-ever-after is redefined, crowns fit all heads, and the truest magic lies in shattering the expectations of the past.

1980s Fairytales

In the flickering light of Friday night television, amidst a sea of pixelated VHS tapes and clunky box sets, I discovered my enchanted kingdom: the world of fairytales. Unlike today’s smorgasbord of streaming services, where fantastical narratives are just a click away, my access was limited. Each Friday, tucked under a warm blanket, I held my breath as the iconic Disney intro soared across the screen, transporting me to a world of magic and happily-ever-afters. Amongst these glittering tales, “Cinderella” reigned supreme.

Cinderella, with her rags-to-riches transformation and a prince charming whisking her away from the drudgery, resonated deeply within me. Little did I know, like many fairytales, that this story stretched far beyond the animated spectacle on my screen. Its roots burrowed deep in history, with the first known version dating back to 9th century China. For centuries, across cultures and continents, the essence of the “lost slipper” remained constant: a damsel in distress, a handsome prince searching for his perfect fit, and a happily-ever-after secured by a glass slipper.

This age-old narrative, while enchanting, undeniably left its mark on my young mind. I dreamt of twirling in a shimmering gown, the prince’s gaze lingering on my glass-slipper-clad foot. My mind conjured the perfect wedding, a fairytale culmination of all I had seen and absorbed. But as I grew, the cracks in this idealized world began to show. The prince, once charming, seemed one-dimensional, the damsel a passive recipient of her fate.

Cinderella’s influence, like any powerful narrative, was multifaceted. It sparked a love for storytelling, ignited my imagination, and offered a comforting escape. Yet, it also painted a narrow picture of love, success, and gender roles. This realization wasn’t a rejection of the fairytale but rather a desire to expand its boundaries, to create space for stories that mirrored the kaleidoscope of live experiences within my own world.

The journey beyond the glass slipper continues. As I embark on my own happily-ever-after, it’s no longer defined by a prince or a ballgown. It’s a tapestry woven with self-discovery, personal growth, and the freedom to write my own narrative, shattering the constraints of the past in favor of a more inclusive and empowering future. And while a part of me will always cherish the magic of childhood fairytales, I now crave stories that reflect the full spectrum of humanity, where happily-ever-after isn’t limited by a glass slipper but embraces the infinite possibilities that lie beyond.

Finding Prince Charming

Fate, it seems, has a curious way of keeping people in our lives that end up playing a pivotal role. In 2006, my path crossed with Alan’s. Initially meeting as colleagues, the line remained drawn in the sand that we would remain friends and nothing more. Yet there was a constant undercurrent of happiness and security that came along with being in Alan’s presence.

Unfortunately, the 2009 recession pushed Alan and me in different directions. Four years had passed, and although we did not see each other too much, the warmth of our friendship remained. In June of 2013, we reunited at a networking event and the years seemed to melt away as I spotted Alan, where a surge of excitement washed over me.

There was a noticeable difference with Alan this time around. I shared with him my desire to reconnect, and Alan said, “That’s fine, but this time, I don’t want to take dating off the table.” A smile played on my lips, masking a flurry of emotions within. He looked like the Alan I knew years ago, but something new flickered in his gaze, a spark igniting a curiosity I couldn’t quite explain. Perhaps it was the passage of time or Fate’s subtle nudge. Whatever it was, the seed of possibility had been sown, leaving me eager to see where this newfound direction and desire would take us.

Our initial date morphed into something more profound, blossoming into a whirlwind romance. I woke up each day looking forward to what would happen. He loved me fiercely, cared for me tenderly, and we settled into a comfortable rhythm. But life will take unexpected turns no matter how happy you are in the moment.

Nine months into our relationship, Alan looked into my eyes and said, “Amy, I love you. I am a woman.”

My world tilted on its axis, and I had no real reference point to navigate it. The details of our lengthy conversation remain blurry, only the sting of my question echoing faintly: “Does that mean you’re gay?” Shame paints my cheeks even now, a stark reminder of my ignorance about being transgender.

The drive home was a tearful journey, fueled by a primal fear: Fear of the unknown, fear of losing him, fear of a future I couldn’t comprehend. Images of marriage, children, and our envisioned life blurred into a chaotic collage. This was not what fairytales are made of. My mind reeled with questions like, “Where was my prince? Was this our end?” Desperate for someone to help me get more clarity and organize my thoughts, I reached out to my therapist.

And that’s where the true journey began. My therapist patiently explained the world of transgender identity. She dissected my fears, one by one, so I knew what I was getting into. “Imagine the best and worst possibilities,” she urged, reminding me to breathe. “This is no different from any new relationship. Get to know each other, see if this is your person. No decisions need to be made today, Amy. Only time will tell.”

Her words offered solace I desperately needed. With her help, I realized this wasn’t the end but rather a new chapter demanding courage, understanding, and, most importantly, time. Whenever I had a question or needed more clarity, she provided me comfort and insight that would lead me toward a future filled with unwritten possibilities.


Our love story wasn’t a whirlwind dance but a slow waltz that grew stronger with each passing month and year. The “I do’s” in March 2017 solidified our commitment, and the next chapter beckoned: parenthood. We both yearned for a child, a dream shared from our early conversations while we were still dating. Ironically, just two weeks into our new relationship, Alan had looked at me, eyes filled with honesty, and said, “I like you, Amy. But you should know, I’m Alan Jr., and if this goes somewhere, I want a third. Are you okay with that?” Compatibility was still a question mark back then. Still, something in his sincerity resonated, and I agreed to a future “Alan the 3rd.”

And in May 2019, Alan the 3rd, or Trey as we fondly call him, entered our world. The moment I held that tiny human, love unfolded in ways I never knew possible. Trey, our adventurous spirit, became the perfect addition to our pack. Road trips became annual traditions, with Trey giggling as we explored new horizons.

Prince Charming Gets a Makeover

As Trey approached his first birthday, a new conversation emerged. We were content with our family of three, the desire for another child fading. It was then that Alan, with love and vulnerability in his eyes, asked if now was the right time for his own transformation. He explained the hormone therapy, the changes it would bring, and the dream of finally living authentically as Ali.

Ali’s 40th birthday marked a momentous occasion. She shed the “Alan” she had worn for so long and bloomed a radiant transformation with it. The journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but watching Ali thrive fills our days with joy. Her strength, beauty, and unwavering desire to live authentically inspire me. Her beauty makes me admire her beyond words.


Our love story, though unconventional, continues to blossom. It’s a testament to understanding, acceptance, and the power of love to evolve and adapt. We may have started with something other than a prince and a princess. Still, we ended up with something far more remarkable – a love story etched in honesty, respect, and the courage to be our true selves.

A decade ago, I used to joke with Ali and say, “Well, this isn’t a Disney fairytale, but it’s our fairytale.” But a few years in, I realized I was wrong. The traditional Disney fairytale is about two people falling in love and living happily-ever-after. That’s exactly what we are doing. We just happen to be a woman and a transwoman, rewriting the script with every shared sunrise and every whispered “I love you.”

Our happily-ever-after isn’t confined by a glass slipper or a grand ball. It’s built on shared laughter, unwavering support, and the freedom to be who we truly are together. And that, my friends, is a story far more magical than any fairytale could ever dream.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.