Like many teenagers, Rebecca Roldán Gordon loved spending time on the internet. In 1999 they began writing to Nick Reynolds, who was then known as Katherine. “We were on a fanfiction website for Trigun, a comic and TV series,” says Rebecca. “I read a story he’d written and told him it was the funniest thing I’d ever read. The next day I was so excited to get an email back.” Although they were living in different parts of the US – Nick in Georgia and Rebecca in Texas – they formed a close friendship online. “It wasn’t romantic at first, we just liked talking,” says Nick. “I found Rebecca very creative and we shared the same sense of humour.” Rebecca says he was “like a celebrity to me” because they were so impressed with his writing.
Their online relationship continued for years, graduating to phone calls and the exchange of a few photographs. By 2003 Nick wasn’t getting on with his mum at home and Rebecca realised they were in need of a change of scene. They made the decision to move to Florida and live together as roommates. “We got on just as well in real life,” says Rebecca. “We were making eyes at each other all the time but we were both a bit nervous about taking things further because we were living together.”
After a month of “pretending they didn’t fancy each other”, Nick says they realised they couldn’t be apart any longer. They came out to their families as a couple soon after. Rebecca says that after “taking a little while to get used to the idea”, their mum was very accepting; some of Nick’s family were less supportive. “I’m from a Latter Day Saints family and I ended up losing touch with a few of my more religious family members. My dad was brilliant, though. When I told him we were a couple he just laughed and said he kind of knew.”
The pair moved north in 2004 so Rebecca could attend the Art Institute of Seattle, before settling in Dallas, Texas, a year later. At the time both Rebecca and Nick were living as women, and same-sex marriage was illegal in Texas. Rebecca has dual US and Spanish citizenship, so they travelled to Spain in 2011 to marry.
Soon after the wedding, Rebecca was hospitalised with serious health problems. As well as PTSD and chronic depression, they were suffering from endometriosis and an autoimmune condition. “Nick was pretty much running the household and caring for me then. I could only work and sleep.” Around the same time, they both began to question their gender identity. “I was going through therapy and realising things I’d previously ignored,” says Rebecca. They both began meeting transgender people through online health communities. “I’d never heard of trans masculine,” says Nick. “But I became really interested in talking to trans men. Eventually I started trying to disguise my body and realised how much better I felt.” By 2013, Nick made the decision to socially transition. “I considered transitioning too,” says Rebecca. “In the end, I decided I didn’t really identify as a man either. I realised I was non-binary.”
As Rebecca’s health deteriorated, the medical bills mounted up. In 2015, they became homeless, and lived with different family members and friends. After two years of moving around, Rebecca’s delayed disability payments finally came through. “When Hillary Clinton lost the election [to Donald Trump, in 2016], we spent the night planning how we were going to leave America,” says Nick. “We moved to Madrid and then to the countryside in Andalucía just before the pandemic hit.” The couple had been running a dog-sitting business, and now hope to open a pet shop. They live with their three cats, three dogs and two donkeys.
Nick says his partner is incredibly strong and funny. “Rebecca constantly underestimates themselves. They’re so hardworking and creative and always make me laugh.” They are both “incredibly proud” of their relationship after everything they have been through. “He’s really funny and smart and always understands my perspective,” says Rebecca. “We’ve changed genders, the sexual identity of our relationship, experienced poor health and homelessness, but we’re still together and still crazy about each other.”