If you have met a trans woman and are committed to the long haul, you’re probably running scared. You want to support her through transition but you have no idea how. You know it’s a monumental time, and you’re not sure you’re equipped to meet her needs.
Tips for Supporting Your Girlfriend in Transition
Recognize What She’s Going Through
Transitioning to her true identity is courageous. It takes work, patience, endurance, time, and usually a lot of money.
It means upsetting people close to you who don’t understand, alienating some, and breaking ties altogether with others. It means ridicule from ignorant people, and it means endless questions from well-meaning, curious people.
It takes a great deal of courage to transition to her true self. Validating her experience—with genuine recognition and acknowledgement of the struggle—can make all the difference between a positive, persevering spirit, and the crippling hell of depression and loneliness.
Be There when She Needs You
When a girlfriend is transitioning, a partner can feel helpless and inadequate—and at the same time, left out. You want to alleviate some of the pain, but you also get tired of how long it’s taking, how everything is always about her. Then you feel guilty.
These are normal feelings, regardless of what your loved one is going through, whether an illness like cancer, a traumatic event, or transitioning to a female body.
Try to remember that you really can’t take on the medical appointments or the pain or the family friction. Don’t try. Just be there. Hold her when she’s tired. Make love to her if she needs love. Get up a few minutes earlier to put the coffee on.
Feeling left out seems petty, but it’s normal when so much attention is on someone else. Just because someone has really urgent needs right now doesn’t mean you don’t have any, or that you can put yours aside indefinitely.
Recognize your need for love and attention and fun, but don’t expect someone who is exhausted and emotionally bankrupt to be the one who has to meet them. This is where too many couples break apart.
Talk to a counsellor, your mother, or your buddy. Get lots of rest. Meet up with good friends. Vent negative energy through sports. And spend time by yourself.
Don’t be distant and aloof, and don’t plan your self-care and diversion when she needs a ride into the city for an appointment. Work together to find the balance.
Keep Making Love
Couples can grow apart during transitions, becoming strangers from one another. Also, waiting for the “other side” can be a long wait.
The most intimate way you can participate in your girlfriend’s transition and all the changes happening to her body is to keep making love. This will help keep you bonded and in the loop, and it will give her reassurance and much needed love.
The rules change along the way. Be prepared for that, and understand that’s the whole point. Make love to discover and be with her each step of the way, not with a particular aspect or expectation in mind.
This lovemaking union is unique—it’s a journey most people don’t go through, so enjoy the depth of connection that comes with transition.