Reader Ramblings: SOFFAs (not couches)

My boyfriend is transgender, and he is currently planning to wait on T but wants to go ahead with top surgery. It was cool to see this blog because I only know two other transpeople and they both insisted that you need to be on T before top surgery.

You seem so positive, and it’s refreshing to hear this. Many people talk about transitioning as a growing and learning experience, but so far all I’m seeing is the person I most love feel more distant and wounded by his own body. He’s my best friend and sometimes I just can’t do anything to make him happy. It’s cool to see you taking steps to fix your body and be legitimately happy. * (*) Paraphrased from original email.

I am very glad you wrote to me!

It is often hard to be the partner of a transperson, and there seems to be less information out there from that perspective. Try looking online for SOFFA (significant others, friends, family, and allies) support groups, especially those for partners of transpeople. There are a few tumblrs, but I’d suggest something where you can actually have a conversation, like a private listserve or mailing group. Also try to find something in your local area, either a PFLAG meeting or an LGBTQ safe space with support groups. It helps a lot to hear others talking about the same worries and concerns that you are having, and also to have someone else who has gone through the same thing walk you through their experience.

SOFFAs also need a shoulder to cry on.

I did a quick search and found a few resources. (Readers: if there are any useful links you know of, please include them in the comments!)

Also, look for a trans-friendly therapist you can talk to, or a family member, or another SOFFA that you can turn to. It helps to have someone else to talk to, and that’s one thing my girlfriend kept saying she wish she had.

From a personal point of view, I have been with my partner for 5 years. When we met I was quite depressed, and the more I learned about being trans, the happier I became. And the more steps I took to transition, the happier I got.

Top surgery was a big step for me, and it has definitely improved my quality of life, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve written a lot about how you don’t need to be on T to get top surgery, and you don’t even need to be male identified, so don’t listen to the naysayers. But it’s not the only thing you can do to move things along – small things like hair, clothing, names, pronouns, coming out to family, even just going out for ice cream on a nice day and relaxing, can all make a huge impact.

It truly helped me to have my partner’s support all the way. By support I don’t mean she would just say “yes dear, whatever you decide to do I will still love you.” She did say that, a lot, but that by itself is not enough. I needed someone with whom I could share my innermost desires, thoughts, and emotions, someone I could cry with for hours, and someone who would tell me every single day that everything would be ok. Without her I would not be where I am today, and I would not have had the guts to do all I’ve done. Throughout it all she was very very patient with me, and she nudged me along when I needed it.

Partners are very important, and often they are under-appreciated during the journey – it is only afterwards that we look back and realize how much they were a part of it all.

Try to reach out and let your boyfriend know how you feel about him, and that you are there for him for everything. Inform yourself so that you can help him make the decisions he has to make, and give him advice and reassurance when he needs it. Above all be patient – he might be moody and unhappy, but don’t take it personal. (Of course, that doesn’t mean he has a free pass to do whatever he wants!) Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out yourself, as you have done here; you are also going through it all, and you also deserve your own time and space to think and process and feel.

You say I sound really happy and positive (thanks!) – and I am, right now – but it wasn’t always so. It’s important to remember that. You say you can’t do anything to make him happy. Well, sometimes there really is nothing you can do to make him happy; sometimes you both just have to wait it out and let time take its course. Being trans and transitioning is a journey where you learn and grow, but it can also be long and painful. But you can still keep a positive attitude, even if things aren’t the best at the moment.

Hopefully this helps a little. Know that I am here if you want to talk more.

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