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The entry below is an excerpt from Reaching for Hope: strategies and support for the partners of transgender people. It's in a section titled "Things They'll Experience."
They’re Going to Need to Talk
Transitioning people need to talk things through in order to process their experience. Your partner may be seeing a counselor, so they have a good outlet for working through questions once a week. Meanwhile, there are six days and a lot of hours spent trapped in their brains with all their questions, hopes, and concerns. And if your partner isn’t in counseling, they don’t even have that hour.
Transition is a process of unfolding over time, which means that some issues will be revisited repeatedly. Online support groups can help, but there will be plenty of times when talking to you is the best or only option.
Here are a few suggestions from other partners of trans people:
Try to listen deeply and hear their words with your mind, heart, and body.
Think carefully before speaking.
Encourage your beloved to let you know if they don’t like the way you’re asking questions or making statements so you can adjust how you approach issues.
There may be moments when you’re emotionally tapped and simply can’t handle a discussion. Setting up systems for conversation can help. For example, if talking at night means you’ll be awake for hours thinking or worrying, agreeing to talk earlier in the day makes sense. If talking about it every day is too much, then agree on a schedule and plan ways to capture thoughts and questions for those scheduled conversations. Regardless of the system, make sure you follow through. Knowing there will be a time and place to talk can take the pressure off your loved one who might feel like they’re boiling over.
Trans people need to talk. If it can’t be with you, it’s still needed. Recognizing and supporting the importance of having an outlet is crucial for the health of you both.
I wouldn’t be where I’m today without friends who could see me. Friends who have seen me. Not for who I was, not for the past and all those conventions and expectations. But for my potential. For who I was becoming. For what God was creating with me.
Rev. Junia Joplin