How to be supportive of those around you if they are Transgender/Transsexual/Agender/Gender nonconforming, etc….
Well, quite simply… it’s rather easy. However, in our current culture there is this awkward taboo around gender that is hard to overcome for some. The first thing I would suggest is reading over our do’s/don’ts list.
From there, let’s look at one of the things that we feel may seem a bit out of place… Why shouldn’t you call someone brave?
Well, what would make someone brave is a good response to that. Let’s look at the definition of the word brave, from the online oxford dictionary…
Brave: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; Showing courage.
See the problem? Calling someone brave for being themselves, kind of implies that you expect them to face serious danger. If you expect them to face serious danger, what are you really telling them? So, instead of brave I would recommend other compliments that they feel comfortable coming from you.
Unless you’re super close, or they talk to you about it… Genitalia talk is off the table. Unless you’re both naked on a table… In all honesty, though it’s normally a very uncomfortable conversation and rather rude.
That said, it’s not a hard fast rule. However, generally it requires someone be on some level of comfort with you and a private setting. If it’s super important for you to know, it isn’t. Being supportive means understanding personal boundaries
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits.
For example, Raine is female gender, male sexed…
Which answers that question, and generally is as far as the question needs to go.
Don’t constantly ask them what their real name is, or refuse to call them their name if you originally knew them by another name.
Sure, the name change can be a bit… awkward for everyone. It’s far more awkward for them then it is for you. Even more so if you’re the only one who calls them by a name they went by prior. At the end of the day, they picked that name for a reason. You should be accepting and supportive of that. If you have a hard time remembering to call them by their name, remember to correct yourself. Eventually you’ll get it, and they’ll feel even more comfortable around you.
My son/daughter/etc… recently told me they…
Gender is a bit more complicated than sexuality. If someone can’t do hormones sometimes the change can be a bit hard to understand. If someone can do/wants to pursue hormones, it can be very jarring. You have to remember that it is for both of you. Take a minute to have a conversation when they tell you, or after they tell you. Be relaxed, be calm and comforting.
Ask questions, and ask them how you can help. Ask them to explain a bit better, what can you do…etc. However, also try not to pressure them. The best you both can do is have open dialogue that is comfortable and respectful of both of your personal boundaries.
I’m having a hard time… etc.
If you’re a parent and you’re having a really hard time. There are a lot of ways for you to reach out to get understanding/grasp it. PFLAG has a ton of wonderful resources to help out any parent.