How to Support a Loved One’s Transition
So you’ve found out someone you care about is transitioning from male to female or female to male. Maybe you were surprised at the news, or perhaps you knew all along that your loved one was not comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. In any case, soon after you learn about the coming changes, you might wonder how you can support your friend or relative during this time.
We’ve met quite a few trans people in our plastic surgery practice in New York, male-to-female and female-to-male patients. We have some ideas for you.
Learn All You Can About Transgender Individuals
These days, with just about everything you can imagine available online, you can find a great deal of information about being transgender today. Make sure you explore lots of sources so you can be well versed in important nuances, such as the difference between gender and sexual orientation, as well as the many challenges trans people face.
You might start with sites published by professional health organizations such as the American Psychological Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Be sure to add other sources published by and for the LGBTQ community like GLAAD, and you might choose to subscribe to The Rainbow Times, a site for online news published in New England. If you happen to live in or near New York, transgender people and their supporters are welcome at The Center, where “everyone is celebrated for who they are.”
Support Their Decisions About Transgender Surgery
When it comes to surgical trends, there’s a lot to learn. Not too long ago we ran across a study by Boston Medical Center with some surprising findings. You might want to read our summary of the study here.
Perhaps because we’ve been leaders in breast surgery for both women and men for decades, we meet transgender people interested in “top surgery” in New York fairly regularly. We have published a great deal of information about male-to-female and female-to-male top surgery here. You can also browse our site to learn about other procedures transgender people may choose.
Explore Their Feelings and Yours
In her blog on Psych Central, Ivy Blonwyn writes from the heart about her stepson’s transition from male to female. Blonwyn’s story illustrates several points that might not be the first things that come to mind when a loved one is transitioning. One is that you probably should not expect your friend or relative to suddenly become happy all the time after the change. Her now stepdaughter continues to have issues, and Blonwyn is still working to communicate with her.
Second, it’s important to deal with feelings you may be having. It’s natural to feel surprise, shock or even dismay if you did not know your loved one was thinking of transitioning. What you may not be prepared for is a sense of grief. While you’re getting used to the idea of interacting with someone who looks quite different than they did before and calling them by another name, you may need time to grieve for the person you “lost.”
While we support our transgender sons and daughters, we also need them to support us. They must realize that we also need their understanding and patience as we adjust and yes, grieve for the person they used to be. To become reacquainted with the person they now are. To rebond with them, as their new gender, their new voice, their new identity, their new name, their new face.
Information, Understanding and Compassion are Key
There’s no doubt that it’s easier to live an honest, authentic life nowadays, even if that means transitioning to a new gender. But challenges still abound for transgender people, and for their loved ones as well.
We may be able to help when it comes to learning about surgical options for transitioning in New York. Breast surgery, facial surgery, liposuction and other procedures can be transformational steps for individuals who want to alter their appearance to fit a new identity. Call us if you’d like to arrange a consultation for more information: 212-570-6080.