Practical help from REACHING FOR HOPE
Here's another excerpt from Reaching for Hope: strategies and support for the partners of transgender people, which launches in early December!
Routine Activities Might Get Harder
Trans people spend lifetimes equipping themselves to live as the gender they were assigned at birth. The physical realities and social demands of being a particular sex require routines that are part of maintaining that false persona. Trans women shave their faces and cut their hair short. Trans men cope with menstruation and shave legs and armpits. It’s simply the way things are.
But once a person begins to taste the freedom of gender authenticity, these activities can transform from daily drudgery to something much more painful. Even showering can be an excruciating reminder their body is not aligned with their essential being.
Changing the way these activities are performed can assuage the discomfort a bit. For example, some trans people shower in a bathing suit. Razor types can be swapped for those marketed toward your beloved’s gender. The use of period underwear (particularly in boxer-brief shapes) can reduce the dysphoria of having to carry and change sanitary napkins or tampons. These products can be ordered online or shopped for by you to further reduce the triggers.
Many of our gender presentation demands are silly, and hopefully one of the benefits of your partner’s transition will be to help you both recognize the inanity of these cultural expectations. The more publicly a person is out, the more they can release culturally demanded gender routines. But the transition away from these expectations can be hard for your loved one, and it’s best to be prepared for that pain.
My experience of being trans is a complete loss of sexuality, loss of privilege, loss of friends and sometimes family, loss of—well pretty much everything—only to gain the simple ability to honestly exist in this world as the person you’ve known you were all along.