Who are “Partners”?
HTWG defines “partners of trans* people” as anyone who has, are currently, or may at some point be dating/partnering with trans*, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, intersex, and/or gender questioning people. Partnering with a trans* person may mean you have a crush, you are significant others, dating, long-term partnering, married, or in any other type of intimate relationship.
Each community within the SOFFA acronym (Significant Others, Family, Friends, Allies) has different needs. HTWG recognizes that partners (significant others) differ from friends, family, and allies in that their relationship to trans* people includes many complicated factors such as identity labeling, sexuality, visibility, and personal support, to name a few. In recognition of partners’ unique experience in the trans* community, HTWG has created resources to build community and address their needs.
Being the partner of a person who falls under the trans* umbrella can be wonderful, but confusing, joyous, but isolating, all at the same time. Whether your partner identified as trans* before you met or after you have been together a long time, negotiating these experiences can be a complex journey for you both. How you view your partner’s transition can vary from day to day. Watching your partner’s life and body become more in line with their true selves can be an exciting time and it can sometimes feel overwhelming, confusing, or scary. It is ok to feel stress for your partner or about your relationship… It is also ok to not know how you feel. The process of coming out and/or transitioning is a grand and rewarding adventure you undertake together. There is not one correct way to navigate a trans* partnership, but there are some common factors that have shown to be helpful: finding personal support and educating yourself on issues that may affect you and/or your partner.
Resources for Partners
You can find personal support and validation through community in many ways. Talk to someone you trust and be honest with yourself about how you feel. Talking to people who have had similar experiences has shown to be a great way to get support. You can connect with other partners online through social media and forums and make friends who also have trans* partners. Attending queer or trans* community events and support groups are a good way to meet people like yourself, or you can start a local social or support group for partners. You can also find books and movies that portray the experience of partners including She’s Not the Man I Married, a book where author Helen Boyd offers a compassionate and real perspective on her partner’s transition. By googling terms like “transgender partners” or “partner of trans” you will find will be link lists, blogs, and FAQs all relating to partner experiences. Also explore social media sites such as tumblr for tags like transpartner, #ftmpartner, #mtfpartner, and #transdating. If you’re not finding resources that speak to you, consider making a post in a trans* focused tumblr with an introduction along the lines of “I’m a partner looking for support with a specific issue, can any other partners reach out to me?” There are many people just like you who are seeking community; by finding the strength to reach out, you may find them. The more resources you have, the better you can help yourself and your partnership.
You can download our own Partner FAQ here to save and share.
Programs for Partners
HTWG provides programs like Cincinnati Trans* Community Group (CTCG) which offer support for partners including hosting partner-focused gatherings and a private facebook group for partners. If you are in the Cincinnati area and would like to join these programs, or for more information on how to create these resources in your area, please contact us.
Written by Laurie Yokoyama & JAC Stringer, (2014) Heartland Trans* Wellness Group. info(at)transwellness.org