Practical ways to support your transitioning partner
It is important for heterosexual or gender fluid partners to understand that their reaction and opinions about their lover’s decision to transition can have a lasting impact on their partner’s mental health.
There are few things in life that are as brave as making the decision to transition from the gender you were assigned at birth to the one you truly identify with. Today, trans activists are doing all they can to augment the visibility of trans people. Even so, there are a lot of individuals who struggle with the decision of wanting to transition while in a relationship. Despite being with a loving partner, this process could exert strain on your relationship. It is especially important for heterosexual or gender fluid partners to understand that their reaction and opinions about their lover’s decision to transition can have a lasting impact on their partner’s mental health.
While your goal would obviously be to help your lover express their gender identity however they please on their journey of transition; you probably want to know how best to support them. Read on to discover a few ways you can aid their transition and pace things in a way that makes your partner comfortable.
You may not always know what’s best for your lover in such situations. So, bridge the communication gap and simply ask them what they’d like to feel supported. Would they like you to accompany them during doctor appointments? Perhaps they seek your assistance for legal paperwork such as officially changing their name, or maybe they only need a shoulder to lean on when they want to vent. Show your respect by being upfront with them and asking them what they need.
There are many challenges your partner may be facing as they transition, so you must do all you can to make it smooth for them. Enquire whether they would prefer a different name. Furthermore, you must not make the mistake of misgendering your spouse or lover. Remember that misusing pronouns can negatively impact their self-esteem and even cause body dysmorphia.
Hence, ask them what pronouns they would prefer. Some common choices are they/them, but some do opt for gender-neutral ones such as Ze and Zir.
When a person is transitioning, they often experience an adjustment phase, as your relationship evolves from what it used to be to all that it could be. This process impacts both partners. Unfortunately, your lover may feel alienated from society and even their peer groups for the time being. However, your feelings for each other should matter more than their gender identity. Therefore, their identity won’t define your bond with each other.
There may be external pressures they face after the transitions, such as inequality at the office, judgement from relatives or even discrimination. While most of these are unlawful, you can stand by them as they combat the expectations to adapt to outmoded gender stereotypes. It can be anything from heading out shopping for new outfits after the transition or going along with them as they get hormone replacement therapy.
Help them navigate their own path with their true gender identity by becoming their biggest cheerleader!