If you have a trans person in your life it can sometimes be difficult at first to know how to support them. Here's some advice.
Partners of trans people
Being a partner of a trans person can be a satisfying and deeply rewarding experience, whether you're having a sexual relationship, a short or a long-term relationship.
However it may often feel as if your partner is the centre of attention, whether in your social and family life, or in a medical situation. You may need to take steps to ensure that you feel included in things. Talk to your partner, share your feelings and get involved if you can.
You can do a lot to support a partner going through transition, who may be confused, frustrated or angry. Talking with them about visits to clinics or medical appointments, and offering to go with them, may help lessen the sense of isolation they can feel.
Partners of trans people who are going through changes in their body or appearance can also feel confused. If your long-term partner is starting transition, this may not affect your relationship. However, outside pressures can affect your relationship – friends, family or your employer may see things differently, or you may even become the victim of hate crime. The law protects partners of transsexuals from discrimination, so seek professional help if you experience any difficulties.
You might feel a sense of loss for the person you knew before transition or find your emotions confusing and upsetting. If your partner is living in stealth, the secrecy may be stressful for you. Likewise your partner might be ‘out’ about their trans identity and their openness may cause you problems. It often helps to have an understanding person with knowledge of trans issues, such as a counsellor, to share these experiences with.
Any relationship can be challenging as well as deeply satisfying. With mutual understanding and respect, a relationship with a trans person has as much potential as any other. Many partners find their relationships with trans people enriching and exciting - may yours be so!
Where to find support:
NHS Choices - My trans partner
Parents of trans children
If your child is trans, you may be finding it difficult to get used to their new identity. As the parent of a trans person, you have brought them into the world and raised them in their assigned birth gender. If you have a young child, you may be wondering what steps to take now – Mermaids is a good starting point as they help trans children and will be able to advise you.
It can be difficult for parents to see their child, whatever their age, transitioning, however supportive you intend to be. It can also be upsetting to see your child feeling hurt or struggling. With your support, your child will be able to go through their transition, whatever form that takes, more easily and hopefully feeling supported.
Support for trans children:
Children of trans parents
If one of your parents is trans it can be difficult to come to terms with no longer having the ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ you knew. You may go through a process similar to grieving, but hopefully as you get to know your parent in their new identity you'll develop a new way of relating to them that you can enjoy. You may, however, find that your relationship changes very little.
If you're school-aged, you might be worried about how your friends will react. It’s worth talking to your parents about this, especially if you have experienced any bullying. They'll be able to speak to your school if necessary.
Friends and family of trans people
If you have a friend or family member who is trans they will be grateful for your support. Trans people are not always accepted by their friends and family so your support may be what makes a difference. Read around the website to get some more information on issues facing trans men and women and don’t be afraid to ask your friend or relative questions.