Let’s Talk About … Being Friends With People Who Are Trans

Good Afternoon Munchkins!

Today I decided to write another ‘Let’s Talk About…’ because I actually really enjoyed writing last week’s as upsetting as I found it. I just thought it was quite therapeutic and it helped get a lot out of my system, which I needed. So this week I decided to talk to you about being friends with people who are transgender!

With the openness and ability to accept anyone and everyone in this society, there is a very high chance we will at least meet one person who is transgender in our lifetime, and I’m actually fortunate enough to have a couple of my best friends going on this journey. Obviously they’re not my friends because they’re trans, they were my friends for years and years before they came out to me, but I am so grateful that they are welcoming me as openly as they are to be with them every step of the way. As amazing as it is, I kind of feel like there isn’t that much support or guidance for friends who are cisgender (feel as if they fit the gender they were assigned at birth), like myself, because it was a bit of a shocking and unsure experience. Basically, this is just me telling my story and giving people in a similar situation some support because I really felt I had be thrown into the deep end and unknowing as to what to do or say. Just a bit of background information, they’re both female to male.

So I was first told about one my friends in the summer of last year. I wasn’t overly shocked with this one because he appeared pretty masculine anyway and would always be the person to wear a shirt rather than a dress on a night out. He came out to the rest of our friends a couple of months later, I think, and I don’t think they were overly surprised either. At first he was very chilled about it, but after a while he would become very distressed if he didn’t use the right pronouns (e.g. ‘he’ instead of ‘she’) which is completely understandable, and for the New Year he really wanted our entire friendship group to start calling him by his male name and use these correct pronouns. I completely understand why he became so distraught about it, I just wish he told us straight away what to say or when. Not everyone in our school knows so there are still some people we have to be cautious around and I now have to remind myself to call him by his female name around people like his parents or friends of his who don’t know or don’t accept it. So, on that front, I would just say clarify some ground rules or what they want from this so you don’t get the backlash of slipping up every so often. Since him coming out we have done this, but I would suggest doing it earlier as it’s better for both/all of you. I guess it wasn’t the first thing on my mind because it is a very crazy time being told this person is planning on getting x, y and z done to make him more physically masculine in the future.

My second friend that came out is actually the boyfriend of the first friend, and has been my best friend since we were 4 (if you can follow that!). I really did not expect this one, but at the same time I didn’t expect him to come out as gay! This one was much harder for me to get my head around due to knowing him for the past 12 years and remembering how feminine and girly we were as kids, and even in the past few years. I now see that this was an act to stop himself feeling this way or not get us to guess or something like that, but it was still really difficult and I still struggle to see it. At first he came out as gender fluid (when you feel like your one gender one day and the other the next) like a month after the first friend, but recently he’s been making it apparent he is also transgender, not just gender fluid. I think looking back at this occasion, I would definitely say keep an open mind and support the person in question but be there with them through everything and whether they decide they’re transgender or change their mind, or whatever other path they choose to take.

Something else I really want to talk about is when your friend goes to get treatment. My first friend has been referred to people who can diagnose him as transgender (in the UK you can only get treatment and fully transition once you’ve been medically diagnosed) and even to a gender clinic in London so that as soon as he turns 18 next year, he can get the treatment he wants. My second friend hasn’t as of yet because he hasn’t come out to his Mum and referrals mean getting parents/guardians involved at this age, so that isn’t possible right now. My first friend also has a binder and wears boxers which he wears either every day or most days, depending on the other clothes he wears (particularly with our school uniform). I’m really happy and comfortable with talking to them about transitioning and their plans as a couple/as individuals because I know they are and I want to be in the loop as much as possible – I’m a huge believer in I can’t help you unless you help yourself. I also find it really interesting and I just think it would be more beneficial to them if I’m like ‘I’m here, all ears’, rather than expecting them to make the first move. I don’t want to put them in an awkward situation, but at the same time I want to assure them I am here to listen. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to come up to me and be like ‘I’m wearing a binder today’, but you also need to approach it very delicately and appropriately. As I said earlier, be with them every single step of the way and don’t let them fall without you picking them up afterwards.

Another thing I’ve found is the tensions it can have between friends, particularly now that our whole squad knows. There’s been a few friends who have had major fallout’s with these two because they refuse to use the correct pronouns after constant reminders or have explicitly offended gender in some form, which I have had to stand up against for them. This clearly doesn’t benefit my friends mental health or feelings surrounding being valid, but it does build other relationships with other friends much more and proves that strength, and who blatantly doesn’t want to be there throughout the whole thing. Even though it seems difficult now, it will all balance out and be good in the end, I promise. Just hang on in there because there will come a day where you will meet your friends in their truest form and that is something I am most looking forward to. I might cry to be entirely honest with you!

And there we have it! I hope you have enjoyed this blog post – I loved writing this blog post much more than I thought I would, to be honest! If you are trans, let me know if these sound good to you, or if you’re going through a similar thing to me I really hope it’s helped. Just be you; you’re their friend for a reason and they would only tell you if they thought you could handle it. I can assure you, they are much more scared about it than you! I’ve also tried to step really delicately around this subject because I know how easily people can get offended around it, so I’m really sorry if I have offended you because that really was never my intention.

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you Tuesday,

Rachel xx

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