Support for Trans Families: Expect positive change in your loved one
I wanted to post something encouraging in a week which has been filled with frightening news for trans families, so here's a draft entry from Holding on to Hope: Help for friends and family of transgender people. It's a similar book to Reaching for Hope: Strategies and support for the partners of transgender people but focuses on a wider type of relationship.
When a loved one comes out as trans, there can be all sorts of fears and concerns. But friends and family should also be on the lookout for the good stuff. There's likely to be a lot of it.
Positive Changes You Might Not Anticipate
I asked a variety of parents, spouses, friends, and family members about positive changes they saw in their loved one as they moved through transition. Here are some of the things people reported:
Reduced depression and anxiety.
More smiles! And they are genuine rather than forced.
Improved ability to stand up for themselves and be assertive.
Better understanding that they have value and deserve to be treated well.
Increased level of contentment.
Better ability to relax.
Demonstrations of being happy and at peace.
Decreased defiance and oppositional behavior.
Increased desire to interact and be social both within family and outside of it, rather than isolating.
Reduction of self-harming behaviors.
Increased engagement with the idea of a future, where previously they dreaded thinking about it.
A shift in energy; a new light in the eyes, and a bounce in the step.
Deeper sensitivity to and empathy for other people’s feelings.
Experiences of joy!
Increased comfort in receiving hugs and other physical signs of affection from family members.
Ability to demonstrate affection.
Increased eye contact.
A sense of finally having pride in who they are.
An impression of lightness; as if a burden has been removed.
Decreased anxiety about getting dressed and groomed for important events.
Recognition of how loved they are.
Improved ability to maintain friendships.
Better performance at school.
Decrease in grumpiness.
Increased levels of humor and feeling comfortable being silly.
Improved engagement in selfcare (eating right, exercising, getting enough rest, etc.)
Increased openness, vulnerability, and honesty.
Every individual is different, and your loved one will experience their own areas of freedom and growth. But try to be attuned to the positive changes which unfold and increase as they are able to proceed with transition. The bright moments can help move you through more challenging or worrisome times.
All of us are put in boxes by our family, by our religion, by our society, our moment in history, even our own bodies. Some people have the courage to break free.