Introducing someone you’re romantically involved with to your friends and family is always nerve-wracking to be sure, but when your new paramour is a transsexual, it adds a whole new reasons to be nervous about the interaction. It should go without saying that you should only embark on this course if you’re not going to be dissuaded from continuing the relationship if you get a negative reaction, and it’s imperative that you reassure your girlfriend that a negative reaction from your family and friends will not result in a breakup.
You should have a discussion with your girlfriend about how you both feel about revealing her status, your present relationship status, and your expectations for the future. If you are in fact unsure about the relationship, and are unprepared for a negative reaction the reveal may prove to be a mistake in hindsight. Assuming the two of you are in agreement about going public and are prepared to face any consequences together, you need to develop a plan for the reveal, based upon what you believe will be the most promising scenario.
Everyone is different, and it’s important to have reasonable expectations about how family and friends will react. If your friends and family are right-wing judgemental homophobes and your girlfriend can’t “pass,” you really should examine why you want to expose yourself to ridicule and perhaps cause a permanent rift in your relationship. That’s not to say that so-called liberals will react any better, there are lots of people who hold permissive views, but when it hits close to home it becomes a different story. Always gauge the worst-case scenario, so if it should happen you are both prepared for it.
In some situations, it might be better to delay the “big reveal,” particularly if your girlfriend is particularly “passable.” Having your family and friends get to know your girlfriend as a person, and having her build a relationship with the other people in your life will go a long way towards building understanding as to why you’re so attached to her and when the time comes, it will be learning something new about someone they already know and care about.
Often it may be advantageous to have “the talk” with family and friends alone, without your girlfriend present, particularly if they’ve never met your girlfriend previously. Often times the shock of the disclosure will lead to insensitive remarks and questions which could hurt your girlfriends feelings. Best to get that out of the way without her present.
Remember, if you’ve already found someone you love, you’re already a winner, and the opinions of family and friends are a secondary concern. Worst case, you and your love can find new friends and build a family of choice if it comes to that. It might be a bumpy road in the time immediately following the reveal, but if you’re in it for the along haul, it will soon be in your rear-view.
Check out Transgender Stories for more online support from the trans community.
If you have experience on this subject, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.