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How to Support a Trans Friend

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  • This topic has 5 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by avatarHazel.
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  • #846995 Reply

    My godfather passed away recently, and my father went to the funeral (I could not attend). His daughter used to babysit me, and she was my favourite babysitter. I was a shy child, often nervous, anxious, and self-conscious, and she was one of the few people who could coax me out of my shell. I have memories of her that are saturated with pure joy and excitement. She meant so much to me. Then her family moved, and we haven’t been in contact in twenty or so years, except once when when she called me after my mom died and took me out to lunch to catch up (about 10 years ago).

    After my godfather’s funeral, my father called to tell me that she is now a he, with a new name and very obvious physical changes. I was surprised but happy for him. My father had no contact information for him so I left a message in the online condolence book addressed to everyone in the family, using his new name, and signed it with my name, which has changed since my marriage. He found me on social media and we exchanged waves but no messages.

    He posts frequently about trans issues, and recently posted an article about the high suicide rate in trans teens, with a personal message about how he grappled with suicidal thoughts as a teen himself, when he was struggling with his identity. He also posts a lot of pictures with family and friends where he looks very happy. I’ve been thinking about sending him a message saying I’m sorry he went through tough times as a teen and am happy that he is able to be himself now and that he has such an obviously supportive group of people in his life.

    I’m on the fence about sending that message because while I want him to know that I’m one of the people who love and support him, I also want to normalize being trans. I wouldn’t tell one of my cisgender friends that I’m happy they can be themselves. Would the more supportive thing to do be to continue letting my actions speak for themselves, by using his new name and correct promouns, and liking the posts he makes about advances in trans rights/using sad faces when he posts about setbacks?

    #847011 Reply

    “I’m on the fence about sending that message because while I want him to know that I’m one of the people who love and support him, I also want to normalize being trans.”

    I don’t know, but I’d appreciate someone messaging support to if I were to post a deeply painful memory of my life online. It sounds like he is willing to share his experience in an effort to help others know both his own history and also sobering statistics that describe the stakes surrounding children on the trans spectrum. High suicide rates shouldn’t be normalized as an unavoidable part of being transgender or really for any reason. I think you are trying to be especially thoughtful towards this friend and I’ll bet he would love to receive words of support and kind thoughts for him and for his legal rights.

    #847039 Reply

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy being told about the happy and positive times they’ve given to others, you could always lead with that while saying you’re sorry he was struggling then. I don’t know, it might seem trite but I would certainly appreciate knowing no matter what I am a good memory in people’s lives. It could open the lines of communication but I totally understand how you’d worry about being misconstrued.

    #847166 Reply

    I understand your trepidation about sending this message, but it’s hard to imagine someone reacting poorly to the message “hey, you were a positive influence in my life and I’m happy that you’re happy now”.

    The thing about transphobia is that it runs deep and is really just pretty widely accepted, and any way you can send the message “hey, I see you and have your back” without turning the fact that they are transgender into a tragedy or an obstacle to be overcome would be appreciated.

    #847190 Reply

    I don’t think it’s a bad message. If you have any friends who you feel are really up on trans issues, you may want to have them read over it first. It can be easy to misphrase something though, which wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it sounds like you are very mindful about not wanting to commit a faux pas.

    #847203 Reply

    I’d say you sound like a person who is thoughtful and sensitive enough to get your message across, and lord knows trans people endure so much hate, a little love and support from a sincere friend is always going to be a good thing.

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