In the words of Shakespeare, the course of true love never did run smooth. And that's never been more true than in this strange, but sweet tale of a woman who stood by her man — even after he became a woman.
Before launching into her story, Melissa writes:
I know that many of my readers will not understand or agree with my situation or choices. This series may confuse you, it may anger you. I want you to know I will not take that personally. I am not looking to "convert" people or change someone's mind, I'm not looking for support. I just ask that you hear me.
Melissa and her husband belonged to the Quiverfull movement — a highly conservative fringe Christian sect that does not condone birth control of any kind, believing that children are the highest blessing and are "as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man."
As per their religious beliefs, the pair had a traditional virginal courtship beginning at a young age, got hitched and then got pregnant. She stayed home with the kids while he studied to become a minister.
But things changed when Melissa's husband confessed to that he thought he might be a "transsexual" — a term he learned from doing some reading on the internet and one particularly fateful episode of the Tyra Banks show. Instead of turning her back on her husband, Melissa supported him in his transition:
In my sheltered upbringing the closest my parents had come to the topic was a veiled reference "transvestites" and how they were confused messed up people who refused to accept the way God had made them and were usually sexually abusive and predatory. But this explanation did not add up to my sweetheart sitting on the couch with me. My spouse was an intelligent, loving, creative person. He was gentle and caring. I could trust him with anything. He was a devoted spouse and parent. He was a pastor who spent hours every week researching and writing for heartfelt sermons and visiting and encouraging the elderly and sick in our congregation. And I knew I loved him.
Their church and their fellow parishioners were not nearly so supportive.
But this story has a happy ending. Melissa's husband began dressing in a more feminine fashion, embracing his newly adopted gender. Meanwhile, his loving and supportive wife became more accepting of one aspect of her sexuality that she had previously repressed -- she was attracted to women.
"For the first time I felt like I knew how to really love him," Melissa writes.
As their marriage flourished, the couple questioned their religious belief system, eventually parting ways with their church.
A similar -- and similarly remarkable -- story out of Canada about true love and identity winning out over religious doctrine and social rejection is that of transgender United Church minister, Ruth Wood.
Born as a man, Terry Wood transitioned into Ruth Wood in her late fifties.
"I would not say I feel like a woman," Ruth Wood tells the Toronto Star last spring. "I feel I am a woman. It's not so much a feeling, it's an inner sense. I am a woman. Most people have never questioned it. They have bodies that go with who they are."
Ruth Wood has remained a part of the church, and her wife Anne has stood by her.
If true love isn't about loving someone for who they are, what is it? And if religion isn't about being loving and accepting, what is it for?
"You and I are OK," reads a poster on the wall of Wood's church. "God doesn't make junk."
Watch the video below for the confessions of a mom with a porn star alter ego: Savanna Samson.A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.