Psych Central contributor Edie Weinstein interviewed Nicole and Lori Bray, a couple she met last year when Nicole was in the process of transitioning from male to female. Their story touched her heart particularly, since they defied the statistical odds and are exceedingly devoted to each other through this arduous process. Part Two of the interview follows:
At this point, the attention of the interview turned to Lori, since she took the journey along with Nicole and has been steadfast in her support.
EW: How can partners/spouses/families be supportive? Since this process is ongoing, how can the partner/spouse/family get support as well?
LB: How to Be Supportive
- Understand that the Transgender individual has always been their identified gender even if they did not appear to be or did not always show signs. In other words, a biological male who identifies as a Transwoman has always been a daughter to a mother even if he appeared physically to be a son and showed mannerisms of a son. It’s the person’s gender identity that makes the difference.
- Learn about the Transgender person’s story and what it means to them to be Transgender. What are some of their memories of when they did not seem to fit into their assigned gender? How did they seem to fit better into their identified gender? Learn about their story through their lens.
- Use their preferred name and pronouns. If you make a mistake, fix it without making a big deal about it. Understand that you will make mistakes and that is okay. As long as you make the effort, the individual is usually appreciative.
- Ask questions to understand more about the individual’s story. When news stories come up in the media, engage in conversation with the Transgender individual about these to demonstrate your support and that you are paying attention.
- Check in with the Transgender individual to see how they’re coping with their journey. Gender dysphoria tends to ebb and flow. Your partner/spouse/family member will have some difficult days due to gender dysphoria. Talk about these openly and check in with them.
How to Get Support
- Within your community, attend support groups for partners/ spouses/ families of Transgender individuals. Share your story, thoughts, and feelings with group members.
- Within your community, attend support groups with the Transgender individual that are open to partners, spouses, and families. These groups allow you to meet other Transgender individuals and their families. This creates a greater sense of community and reduces isolation.
- Join online groups for partners/spouses/families of Transgender individuals. This gives you the opportunity to chat with people around the world in similar situations.
- Join Transgender Forums. Most have a section for partners/spouses/families. Furthermore, the other sections of the forums are very educational.
- Seek out individual counseling with a therapist who understands gender identity issues.
- Consider writing in a journal to document your thoughts and feelings.
- Communicate with the Transgender individual about your thoughts and feelings as these may change over time.
- Make sure that your focus does not become entirely about Transgender issues—allow time for other activities and discussions.