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05 April 2011

Supporting someone who is transgender

It can be difficult for partners, family and friends to come to terms with the fact that a loved one is transgender. Here is advice on offering support.

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It's not always easy for partners, family members and friends to deal with the news that someone close to them is transgender.

Regardless of whether the person close to you is transvestite, transsexual or third-gender, you will most likely maintain and strengthen your relationship with them, if you:

  • Try to recognise how important your love, acceptance, and support are to them.
  • Try to remain warm and affectionate even if you experience discomfort with the situation at present.
  • Try to listen without judgement, anger, argument, or confrontation.
  • Try to learn more about their situation and struggles - show that you care enough to make an effort to read, ask questions, and educate yourself.
  • Try to communicate. Don't shut them out. Keep talking to them even if at first your conversations are mainly about your fears.
  • Try to trust that what they are doing is right for them, that they have not made decisions frivolously but rather after years of consideration.
  • Try to use their preferred name and pronoun correctly and treat the person in keeping with their gender identity.
  • Try to appreciate that their basic character, temperament, and personality will most likely remain the same as before, with all admirable qualities intact.

Very few people manage to achieve all of the above right away - what will be most important is your willingness to make an effort.

Visit our Gay, lesbian and bisexual community
Learn more about transgender and intersex people
Ask our Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert or Transgender Advisor

 
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