I’ve been thinking a lot the past two days.
A few weeks ago, I made an offer to all of you… If you had questions about transitioning, to message me and I would answer the questions here. I hadn’t gotten any messages until two days ago. As I checked me email and saw the message, I noticed it was the name of a friend of mine and she posed a good question.
She has a nephew who has just started transitioning from female to male. She is 100% supportive of her nephew and I know this to be a fact because of the way she has treated me when I disclosed to her just over two years ago. She has been working very hard to support him in his journey but, like many, she still worries at times that she may not bw doing enough.
Her question was basically, how do cis people go about their relationships with people who are transitioning?
Obviously this is a pretty broad topic. She mentioned specific things like, what do you buy for birthdays? How do you talk to people like us? How do you address us? But there is obviously a lot to be discussed here. So many different areas that could be touched on. I’ve been thinking on this since I received her message and will be thinking on it more. Additionally, there are are a lot of what I would call “underlying thoughts” that I think everyone should be aware of when trying to have the strongest, healthiest and most supportive relationship with someone they love who is transitioning.
I remember last fall, I wrote a post that was, looking back on it, a completely reactionary response to something that had happened to me. The crazy thing is…it was this wonderful moment that happened for me but I had this total freak out about it and here is why…
One of the things I mentioned in the post, and in the Eclipse article I was so touched to be a part of, is that those of us transitioning want to be thought of by our identified gender, not trans or transgender. Despite my body, I am a woman at my core and any transgender person, at their core is their identified gender. A friend of mine messaged me shortly after I posted the blog and said that she never thought of me as trans…only as a woman. I have also had other friends tell me that they worry the only person who views me as transgender is myself.
Well, there is some truth to what these friends have said to me. But for those who are happy in the gender they were assigned at birth, here is something to consider.
When I am in a group of people who support me, none of them view me as transgender. And in all honesty…I feel that. I feel comfortable and at peace. I can let me natural mannerism show and wear the clothing I prefer. I can just be me and everyone in that group never views me as anything but a woman. And in those settings…I don’t feel “trans” at all. I just feel like me.
The hard part for us is that when we step away from those supportive environments, we often feel the weight of being transgender on us. How you may ask?
Every time I see a doctor who doesn’t know…I have to announce I am transitioning.
As I work to change my name, I keep having to tell everyone in the legal system I am transgender.
I have written about my trips to stores and such where people whisper and point.
We often become hyper-vigilant due to the numbers of assaults of transgender individuals.
I can say that for myself, I try very hard to turn those feelings off…the feelings of being so different from the rest of the world…when I am in company of friends and loved ones. Some days I do very well. Other days I don’t. But keep in mind I am also much older, wiser and self assured than many on this journey. Additionally, I have been on my journey for over two year. Despite all that, it is still hard to just shift our mindset at times.
So a point to consider in starting this discussion is to remember that while you may support your loved one 100% and have no problem viewing them as their identified gender…they may still be struggling with an encounter they had, a whisper they heard or the anxiety of having just had to disclose to someone for something as simple as why they look so different than their photo ID (has become very common for me).
Keep in mind, I am not trying to excuse someone’s behavior because of things like I mentioned before. I am just saying to keep this in mind and be aware of it if they have a negative reaction.
I hope all of that makes sense….
I want to thank my friend for posing this question. And my words to you personally are these…
I know you support your nephew 100% because of how you have supported me. You may have to remind him every now and then because right now, he feels the eyes of the world weighing down on him and he probably fears being judged every time he walks around the corner. He is going to have to learn how to deal with this and a big part of that is just time on the journey. Think back to how different our discussions are now compared to when we first met, in the early stages of my journey. Back then, I feared every disclosure…I feared telling anyone…I feared being abandoned because of something I had no control over. Your nephew is probably experiencing many of the same emotions. You have such an amazing heart and I know you are doing everything you can to let him know you love him. Don’t question yourself and love him with all your heart. He probably needs that more than you can imagine.
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Beach Dune 2
Beach Rocks (w/anims)