Va. family's emotional struggle after husband transitions into transgender woman

- Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox. A larger part of America is embracing what it means to be transgender thanks to them.

The entire world watched as former Olympic gold medalist, Bruce Jenner, transitioned with the support of her reality television family.

But what about real everyday families? One local family shared their story of heartache, pain and transition with FOX 5.

"He was just so outgoing,” said Veronica. “A real guy’s guy kind of person. Really into all the typical guy things -- football, motorcycles. He could fix anything."

She still lights up when she talks about her life with her husband of 21 years.

"Our first date was on the back of a motorcycle going up Angeles Crest Forest on a windy canyon road,” she remembered.

They met in California and eventually eloped. They moved to a quiet neighborhood in northern Virginia where they had a house built and raised two beautiful daughters.

From all accounts, their lives were as close to perfect as you can get. Or at least that is what Veronica thought until she noticed the changes.

“I thought he was going through a mid-life crisis," she recalled. "It was a constant obsession with his looks at the time -- with his hair, with his clothing, everything. It got to the point where it wasn't normal vanity and it was outside of his usual behavior."

She continued, "So I pushed and pushed and pushed and he finally told me and said, ‘Veronica, I'm transgender. I've been a woman in a man's body. I've known since I was 8 years old.’”

We asked if there were any clues Veronica saw.

"That's probably the biggest question that I got from a lot of my friends and family,” she told us. “It was almost in disbelief. They almost called me a liar a couple of times. ‘Really Veronica? You didn’t see any signs? You knew nothing?’

"I have to tell you, I thought nothing."

Heartbroken and confused, Veronica hoped her husband's revelation wouldn't lead to the end of their marriage. But according to him, he could no longer suppress what was inside.

He wanted to go forward with sexual reassignment surgery and lead his life as a woman.

She describes to us how she felt: "I felt lied to. [I asked], ‘How could you go 21 years of marriage and never give me an inkling about anything?’ I felt very deceived."

She added, "For me, it was like going through a death. I've lost my husband. It was grief. I lost my spouse."

And the grief was just beginning because they still had to tell their girls. At the time, their daughter, Valerie, was in high school, and their other daughter, Victoria, was attending junior high school.

"I was more confused than anything,” said Victoria. “I didn't know what to feel."

She said her big sister took the news hard and is still angry.

"She doesn't communicate with my dad at all,” Victoria said. “She's so incredibly mad at him."

"I wish he could have waited until they were out of high school,” said Veronica.

When she asked why he couldn’t wait, Veronica told us, “The answer I got was he was suicidal and he couldn't suppress it any longer.”

It has been three and half years since her husband moved out and began her life as a woman.

"He left as a he and I never saw him as a man again," Veronica said of her former husband.

But today, when Victoria looks at the woman who used to be her dad and Veronica looks at the woman who used to be her husband, they are closer to finding peace.

"It was a matter of ignoring my dad for the rest of my life or accepting it and moving on with the situation," said Victoria.

"We're still part of each other's lives,” said Veronica. “I have a very special relationship with her and it seems almost trite to say we're friends, but it will always be so much more than a friend. She's the father of my children.”

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