I need someone to talk to as this is a whole new experience for me. My girlfriend is trans, and I want to support her, but I’m not really sure how best to do that.
I want to understand what she is going through, but I am also going through my own process. Her body is different (not bad, just different), and that’s an adjustment I need to make.
I’m going to find a therapist, but I’m talking about support outside of that. Maybe perspectives on other partners of trans people, or how to be a supportive partner in a relationship.
Thank you very much for writing. I’m sure your girlfriend will appreciate you reaching out to help yourself – because a relationship is about two people, even when one is transitioning!
As a partner, the only person you can go to usually is your (trans) partner, and sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to sort things out.
To get you started, I did some digging and found a bunch of links to blogs or articles you might be interested in. Most of these deal with an FTM partner, which will be different from your case – as you say, “it’s a thing” – but they might be useful anyway.
- From My Partner: The 1,2,3 of Being the Significant Other
- From My Partner: Significant Love
- From my Reader Ramblings series: SOFFAs not Couches
- First Time Second Time: blog about a queer family, where one of the parents came out as trans last year. Their perspective is unique because they both write about their family, their transition, and each other. I recommend you start with “Thoughts for partners of Trans* people“
- TransPartners Project: “This is a project devoted to exploring (and historicizing) the experience of partners of transmen.”
- “South East SOFFA: A firsthand SOFFA Account of Transition in the South East” and the article “How I introduce my boyfriend“
- Matt Kailey has some very relevant articles as well, about dating a trans woman, talking to my new love about her transition, and a teen in a relationship with a transgirl.
It’s definitely a lot harder to find information for and by partners than about trans people transitioning, or trans people talking about their partners.
I would encourage you to find a trans support group in your area. Even if it is not for partners (make sure partners are welcome), hearing others’ stories will help you understand what it is like to be trans, and be able to connect more with your girlfriend’s experiences. It’ll prepare for the kind of stuff that can come up during transition for your trans partner, for you, and for your relationship. You’ll also get to meet other trans people, chat about diverse experiences, and perhaps even get the chance ask someone (who isn’t your partner) all the questions you’re itching to ask.
Lastly, I definitely recommend counseling or therapy. However, make sure this person is sympathetic to your situation. They don’t necessarily have to be a gender specialist or know about trans issues per se (though it would help if they’re familiar), but do find someone who will respect your relationship and your girlfriend’s identity right off the bat. You might want to ask your local Queer center for counseling referrals, because not all counselors are equipped to deal with LGBTQ issues. Therapy will not solve everything, but it will give you tools to help you cope with it, process your feelings, think through situations, and understand yourself and your partner better.
If you have other specific questions, I’d be glad to forward them to my partner so she can answer them instead of me.
6 thoughts on “Reader Ramblings: Helping Yourself as a Partner”
Micah, you are always thinking of others, and what a set of great resources you have provided. Keep the fire burning little brotherbear.
Fantastic post. Always love the way you approach questions.
Thank you for this. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I was led to your site by a Facebook link. This is my first visit here, and this is the first post I’ve read. As the partner of a transwoman who is just beginning to come out and start the transitioning process, this post is like balm to me. Like the reader quoted, I want so much to be a good partner and help her through this incredibly emotional (and often difficult) time. I love her, and when I see her feeling so stressed and depressed and uncomfortable with herself, it breaks my heart — and then I start feeling anxious and depressed too. The last thing I want is to burden her with my emotional needs when she’s in so, so much need of support from me. But I don’t want to just bottle everything up either. These links and your advice are so helpful to me, and I hope they’ll help me be a better partner to my partner too. Thank you again so much for posting them. (Also, for the record, I love the little comic and it almost made me cry. But in a good way. 🙂
Welcome! I think the best advice I gave my partner is that “supporting me doesn’t mean you have to agree with me all the time.” You do need to find an outlet for yourself, for us it was each other but for many people that doesn’t work.
excellent post, excellent resources… i have a lot of reading ahead of me (after i finish catching up here!).