So you have just found out that your husband, wife, child or partner is transgender.
Wow! You are probably feeling just a bit overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings and thoughts. You may not even know what to think!
The feelings of Significant Others, Friends, Families and Allies of trangsgender people (often abbreviated as “SOFFAs) can be very complex. In some cases a SOFFA may never have heard of transgenderism or not fully understand what it means. In other cases a SOFFA may feel confused, cheated, lied to, betrayed, hurt, repulsed or afraid. And in some cases a SOFFA might feel perfectly comfortable with the trans person but still be unsure or worried about their partner, their kids, the neighbors, work relationships, or financial security.
The good news is that there are a number of organizations and resources that can help you to cope with these emotions and concerns. Organizations like PFLAG and Transyouth Families have information available on their websites and even have Facebook pages. Additionally many local transgender support groups also offer resources and support to spouses/family members.
Announcing a New Support Group For Families, Friends and Allies
Locally, Lehigh Valley Transgender Renaissance is working to deliver support options to SOFFA’s. This includes informative articles on our website as well as our newly formed support group for Spouses, Families, and friends of transgender people. This group is co-sponsored by our friends at the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and is open to anyone interested in supporting the people who are so important to trans* individuals.
Enlist The Help Of A Professional
We certainly hope that you are able to take advantage of our new SOFFA support group, but there are other actions you can take to begin working through the challenges of having a trans* family member or friend.
A great starting point is to find a good therapist or counsellor. There are a number of therapists in our area that have experience in working through issues related to having a trans* partner, sibling or family member (we have a full list available on our website). Talking with a counselor will help you to clarify your feelings and give you an outlet for your concerns while you seek solutions.
Questions, Questions, Questions
Whether it is through web resources, support groups, and/or enlisting the help of a professional, there are a number of questions that you may want to confront. These may include:
How does this affect my marriage/relationship?
Will my partner be OK?
How does this affect my sexual/gender identity?
How does having a trans* parent affect the children?
What do I tell my family, friends and work?
We all know that in a perfect world we would never need to be concerned with these issues. Unfortunately it is not the case and for many the key question is “How do I cope with this?”
All Journeys Begin With One Step
The answer to this last question is often simpler than it seems. You will rely on the expertise of others, the support of friends/family and the feelings of love that you have for your trans* partner or family member. In their hearts, trans* people are still who they have always been and they want to walk with you on their journey.
So why not take that first step?