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How as a heterosexual woman, can I learn more about the transgender community?

March 31st was the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, which none of you would know, but is a community that I give a great deal of thought to, and about.  Each of my girls have had friends/known people who transitioned, so it’s been a topic in our house hold for many years.  This post is one that I’ve been sitting on for quite a long while.  Mostly because I’ve struggled with how to ask these legitimate questions without coming off as a) ignorant or b) judgemental.  I will absolutely take ownership of the fact that I know less than nothing about this subject.  The subject at hand is how one transitions into their new gender when making the change from male to female, or female to male.  I have a great many questions about the social responsibilities of transitioning and don’t even know where to begin to become more educated on it.  Which sucks because I really do want to know more.  So I’m hoping that somebody who does have more knowledge than me, perhaps even a transgender person, will read this and would be willing to help me to understand what it is like to walk a mile in your shoes.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to discover that you were born into a body of the wrong gender.  The weight of that, the confusion of it?  What was that like?  I often wonder at what age do transgender people come to realize this about themselves?  My best guess is it is probably very much like anything else any of us might learn about ourselves that doesn’t “fit” or a part of ourselves that we might struggle to associate with, meaning quite early on.  But one’s very gender?  I can’t even begin to comprehend how solitary that must be.

Who do you tell?

And when do you tell them?

I have many questions.

I also think that thankfully we live in a society, that for the most part is becoming more empathetic to the plight of trans people, and the support, love, and understanding they need in order to make the transition with no shame, or judgement, is growing.  And all I can say is thank God for the evolution of humankind.

There is one question that I wonder about, and in fact when I speak to friends about the subject they have the same question:  which is, at what point is it the appropriate time for a transgender person to let a potential new partner know about the person they used to be?  Is it on the first date?  Should it be something that is brought forward immediately?  Or is it something that is only the business of the person who has transitioned?

My daughters each know people who have transitioned and yet for some reason they’ve never asked them this very question, to which I wonder why not?  Is it taboo to ask this question?  Is it rude to wonder if a trans person needs to be transparent about who they used to be?  Does it even matter?

What are the guidelines, the rules, the playbook for building romantic, intimate relationships once Marty is now Mary, or vice versa.  I read articles, often, about couples marrying, and wonder how the subject is broached.  You know me love is love, and we only get one life, so it is our God given right to live that life wholly, fully and the best we can.  I suppose in this one instance I’m wondering at what point does the other person in the equation of the relationship find out about a partners past if it involves them having been a different gender at birth?

Things that make me go hmmm, and a topic I’m truthfully keen on learning more about, so please enlighten me.

xo

SB

 

3 Comments

  1. In seeking answers to questions you have, as well as questions you haven’t even yet considered, I’d suggest a local LGTBQ center. I’d give them a call and ask if they have a community outreach night or open house because you’re curious and want to know how best to address people you may meet who are transitioning.

    We live in an amazing time in regards to the LGBTQ community. About 10 years ago, one of the men in my dad’s car club showed up at their Halloween cruise night in drag. He did the same the next year. Except that he then began to dress/present as a woman from then on. My kids noticed and actually went over to ask him about it (I didn’t know until after, but was so damn proud that they were honestly curious, polite, and completely unafraid to ask). They started by letting him know they liked his new hairstyle and his outfit.

    Now keep in mind, this car club is mostly older folks, many of retirement age. My dad was mid-70s at this point (and had always been more Archie Bunker than Archie Bunker!) — of that generation that doesn’t necessarily roll with the changes, you know? — and the kids had been attending cruise nights their entire lives. These folks are all pretty well established in their lives, their roles in the community. My dad didn’t blink an eye when his friend transitioned. My dad! Neither did my kids. I’ve often wondered if there were conversations in private about the change in their friend — I’m pretty sure there had to be — but mostly I was struck by how kind this older generation was and how he became she in the midst of a pretty conservative group without the ostracizing or rejection I might have imagined from them.

    I’m fairly certain her experiences during transition weren’t all positive but am glad she remained in a group where she was not only accepted, but not made to feel uncomfortable.

    I wish everyone had that same experience. I’m always shocked and saddened when I hear of any hate toward LGTBQ…or anyone, for that matter. Part of me keeps holding out hope that we’ve evolved to be more open, accepting, inclusive, and compassionate than we’ve been. I know that’s asking a lot of our fellow man, but it’s one of my greatest wishes, aside from my kids’ health and happiness.

    Anyhow, whether you’re in California or Toronto, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a place that can help you answer the questions you and others have. Maybe offering to volunteer a couple hours a week would be a nice way to thank them for their hospitality.

    Signed, she who always rambles

  2. I agree with Love is Love and I am glad to see that transgender people are being more accepted . they are still having struggles I know. and that may be an understatement, But as with you, i am not familiar with the backgrounds of those who have a need to make that change. Except the occasional “celebrity’ but are their struggles the same? I hope that some people will be willing to send answers. I am genuinely interested in better understanding this community.
    thank you for posing the questions.

  3. I believe gender is on a spectrum like every other genetic characteristic. Society requires people to identify male or female, not nature. My cousin’s son has recently identified as female and begun transitioning. As a child he was always a very kind boy, one of my faves. He went into caring professions, finally becoming an EMT. But he always seemed unsettled. He came out to his younger cousins first, my daughters’ generation probably because they would be the least judgmental. My cousin, his dad, had a very hard time with it, but despite his shock has been totally supportive. So it sort of filtered through the ranks from his peers on up to the older generations. We now know what her new name is and look forward to meeting the real women she is meant to be. Daily life is very very hard for her. Every day must be a challenge of expectations and reactions. I simply can’t imagine. She didn’t come to the latest family reunion, I suspect because she doesn’t know how we will react since we’ve known her all her life as a boy. She needn’t have worried. We love her. She dated girls up until she came out, so I’m not sure she’s dealt with your scenario. But she lives in a small town and all her friends know, so hopefully if she finds love, that person will be aware before it get serious. For our part, we don’t want to say the wrong thing. It’s going to be weird. But I’m so glad she’s found herself at last.

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