Support Your Trans Partner

How to Support Your Trans Partner

Happy Pride Month! I really wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate my husband Lucas. For those of you who are new here (hi!), three years ago, he came out as trans (ftm). I thought it would be a great opportunity to answer some frequently asked questions, let other people (and couples!) know they aren’t alone, and give some tips on supporting your partner (and yourself) when your partner comes out as trans.

Did I know my husband was trans when we met?

I didn’t! When we met, he presented as female. Looks were something we talked a lot about, especially after I saw some pictures of him when he was younger. He liked dressing “masculine” and he looked super cute. I remember seeing a picture of him at a wedding with really short hair, wearing a tux, and when he’d look at pictures of himself he’d just light up. I thought it was his butch lesbian phase. Pretty early in our relationship, he told me how his last girlfriend pressured him to be feminine so he’d grown out his hair and tried to dress more feminine.

When did I know he was trans?

I can’t remember a specific moment. I think if he had told me after the first month of dating I would not have been surprised at all. My husband has PCOS so even as a woman he was able to grow a full beard. He’d been shaving it once or twice a day since high school because girls don’t have beards, right?

After we got married, he asked me if I would mind if he got a men’s haircut and I think I was pretty sure then. But during COVID, he stopped feeling pressured to shave his face, Seeing him unravel the shame he felt around being a woman that could grow facial hair and embrace it was really beautiful.

I definitely knew he was non-binary in some way.

Did his transition change our relationship?

It didn’t. I’ve always been pansexual, meaning that gender doesn’t really factor into attraction.

What was the biggest struggle in the relationship?

By far the biggest struggle was coming out to his family and their reactions. Before we got married as two lesbians, his grandma sent him a letter telling him to reconsider so he wouldn’t go to hell. Being transgender didn’t go over well. He went no contact with a lot of family members.

The second biggest struggle is being trans in Oklahoma. While we live in the most liberal city in our state, whenever we travel I always worry that someone will confront him, especially over which bathroom he uses.

What’s been the biggest struggle for me?

The biggest struggle for me was not being able to identify as someone in a f/f relationship. I’d spent three years being seen from the outside as a lesbian and I liked that. It felt like other people in the LGBTQIA+ community immediately knew that I was a part of that community too. I think it’s probably similar to what bisexual people experience in straight-passing relationships.

So yeah, I struggled with feeling like it changed my identity in some way. But who I love doesn’t erase my queerness.

Was it hard to tell other people?

It was hard to tell people I was acquaintances with like my coworkers. I had no idea how to gracefully use a different name or pronouns. I have social anxiety so I think that added an extra layer of how to do it the right way. Do I give a whole speech? Do I host a Q&A session? I think the easiest way is to slip it into conversation. “[Dead Name] goes by [Name] now and uses [he/him, they/them, she/her] pronouns. [Carry on with the conversation].”

Tips for when your partner comes out as trans.

  1. Listen and Validate
    Give them your full attention. Let them share their feelings and experiences without interruption. Affirm their identity and experiences. (But also do the same to your feelings and experiences as well!)
  2. Educate Yourself
    Read books, watch documentaries, and follow reputable sources online to understand more about transgender experiences.
  3. Use Correct Pronouns and Name
    It took me a year to not accidentally slip in wifey and she/her. It’s like you’re rewiring your brain a bit, some brains work faster than others but practice makes perfect. If you make a mistake, correct it, and move on.
  4. Offer Emotional Support
    Regularly check-in with one another. Share hard feelings so that you can handle them together. Ask how they’re feeling and what they need from you. Be open with what you need from them too.
  5. Support Their Transition
    Stand by them during social transitions, like coming out to friends and family, and listen to how they feel about medical transitions.
  6. Create a Safe Space
    Make your home a safe and affirming space where they can express themselves freely.
  7. Celebrate Their Journey
    Celebrate important milestones in their transition, whether it’s starting hormone therapy, surgery dates, or anniversaries of their coming out. Let them know how proud you are of their courage and authenticity.

The biggest tip: Ask them what they need/want from you.

Everyone is different, every relationship is different. I know that sometimes relationships don’t survive transitions. Be patient with yourself and your partner. Talk about your feelings. Communicate the best you can. Be there for each other.