If you have decided to stay with your partner then most likely you will want to be able to help then with transition. Being supportive is extremely important. Listen to what your partner is saying to you even if you don’t like what you are hearing. Just being there and being supportive is one the best things you can do.
Don’t let your wants override your partners’. Don’t stop your partner from getting ffs or srs because you can’t deal with it and don’t want your partner to change. It is extremely damaging and unhelpful.
Here are some practical ways to help your partner:
Whatever shape, size or height your partner is, well fitting, age and situation appropriate clothing will go a long way. It can make or break a successful transition. I can not press the importance of style and taste. If you have no interest in clothes, don’t like to shop and don’t understand dressing for age and body type then you will have very little chance at being able to help. If you are female it does not mean that you will automatically know what looks good. This does not come “inbuilt”, it is learned. Don’t fall into the trap of “I look good in this so I am sure my partner will”. Chances are it will look like shit if you have a different body shape or are a different size.
Your partner may already have an idea of what they want to wear but make sure they choose wisely.Very few people who are over the age of 25-30 can successfully wear see through, tight, pink, fluffy, lacy or full blocks of bright colour. But dull or boring clothes won’t cut it either. Most transgender people need to wear clothes that accenuate the hips and bum and minimise the shoulders. Find clothes that do this. Flared skirts and dresses, waist pinching skirts, scooped neck tops are a good place to start. Avoid: Big baggy clothes, straight legged jeans: most jeans/pants will look pretty bad as they have no shape and will not give your partner the hips and bum they need; tight midriff tops, high necked tops and sleeveless tops. For shape and style advice use resources such as “Trinny and Sussannah”.
Work out your partners size. Go to op-shops and seconds shops and buy buy buy. Experiment with what looks good. I have read a lot of websites that extoll the virtues of dull clothes for transgender people. Ignore them. Just have taste and style (i.e. don’t hang out in the teens section trying to capture a faded youth). Ask friends for help if you think you fail in this department. If your oh-so styleish friend/s don’t know about your partner pretend it’s for you. If you don’t feel comfortable asking friends go into a department store and speak to a stylist about clothing.
My partner is really lucky. After loosing 15kg (30pounds) they are the same size as me. My partner is 6ft and I am 5’10” but we fit into all the same clothes. On my partners first outing she wore smallish heels, a dress, nice long socks and passed so well that her own mother didn’t recognise her- quite literally. She sat down next to us without realising. She thought my partner was one of my friends not her “son”!
Choosing a name
Go for a name that is somewhat un-assuming like Emma, Sarah, Chloe, Elizabeth, Katie. In general do not let your partner choose any name that is a flower or a 6 year old girly name like Candy. No hillbilly, white trash, chav, bogan, stripper, celebrity or rock names like Charlene, Brittany, Briony, Jade, Pearl, Marlene, Cheryl etc. I understand that sometimes these names work really really well and some people can pull them off. Good on them- but chances are for your partner, it won’t work.
This is topic I would like to avoid but I feel that it is really important to mention. Pro-nouns seem to vary greatly between people. If you have read other websites/forums they will most likely insist that you refer to your partner with female pronouns even if he is a 6’4” tall truck driver and identifies as male. Some transgender people really care about pronouns and insist on “she” even if they are still, for all intents and purposes, presenting as male and that’s ok! If that is what your partner wants you to do then support them in it. It will help you and your partner overcome difficulties with this later on and also help you think of your partner as female. Some transgender people won’t care and will say “call me what ever makes you feel comfortable”.
I think you should call your partner what they want to be called. Ask them.
Make-Up/ Hair removal
Make-up is an individual choice. My partner hates it but found it usefull to help cover up redness after electrolysis. Some people love make-up. It’s a personal thing and is not necessary. So long as it is tasteful it shouldn’t matter.
Teach your partner about hair removal- eyebrows, legs etc. Hair removal is an individual choice. Again, let your partner decide. Western society dictates women remove all hair but really we all know about that winter fuzz!!!
Sometimes less is more… the more make-up the worse it looks and sometimes more likely to “out”.
In addition to this blurb there is also a page on depression.
It is really important to remember that emotional welfare is not all about your partner. You also need emotional support. Find a good counsellor, join an online transgender forum and/ or talk to supportive friends (if any of them know). Don’t give up your life looking after things for your partner. Do all the things that make you happy: see friends, exercise, shop, read, garden, fix the car, take a holiday etc etc. Take time out for you. You will need help along the way so make so you get it. Make sure your whole relationship does not become about transitioning. Do fun things together outside of transition.
Your partner will have ups and downs. Learn how to cope with the downs. There are a couple of ways to do this. See a counsellor together or separately. Talk to your partner about how you can help them. Talk to your counsellor about devising strategies to cope with this. Make sure your partner doesn’t become socially isolated and keep up with regular things that they enjoy. Visit friends, go bowling, make sure they have time for family including kids. Be supportive but don’t loose yourself in your partner. You have your own life.
This is a tricky one. I have told people in dribs and drabs. I’ve only told people who are closely involved with my life, know my partner and don’t really care one way or the other. I am sure that there are bigots out there but I live in a very accepting community. I have it easy in that respect. Everyone I have told has been very accepting and basically said “Wow that must be really tough”. Most people don’t really know what the process behind transitioning is or how transgender people feel. I haven’t told my extended family and I don’t really care what they think. Some of them have met my partner and I don’t know how they would feel about.
I have told people for me and not for my partner. I have told people with my partners blessing- my partner never wants to tell people as it is too confronting. I have told people so I can get support. I get really nervous before I tell people and worried about they think. But it seems to be ok. I always pick an appropriate time to tell someone. A place without interuptions and with a long time frame in case we want to talk about it. It is really difficult to talk
I’ve never had a negative reaction so I don’t know how to deal with it. If you think you will have a negative reaction from someone talk to your consellor about dealing with it.
Remember though…. never “out” your partner without their consent!!!!!
Research/ Bookings/ appointments
My partner is really really really bad at researching, booking and keeping appointments. Depression and fear can be crippling. Helping your partner research information, find doctors and take them to appointments can be immensely valuable.