“Are you sure?”, “How do you really know?”, “It’s probably just a phase”, “Are you sure you aren’t just gay?”. If you’ve ever come out as trans*, you’ll be way too familiar with these questions. It’s not just to our parents either, but it appears that we must prove ourselves to everyone, before we can finally be accepted.
Acceptance is a huge part in any LGBT+ experience. Acceptance for who you are, and what you feel. For a lot of people, it can be the matter of life and death. Beyond that, we feel that we must also be accepted by the ones we love and care for. Coming out is the step towards this, and for a lot of people, it is the hardest. This is why positive support is so crucial and as an ally, it’s important to be mindful of how you respond to such situations.
Beyond that, some trans* people will seek to transition via hormone replacement therapy (HRT). For a most, this choice will mean the alleviation of years of dysphoria; however, when they do decide to seek a professional to help them achieve this, they find themselves in a very familiar situation. Bombarded with questions about certainty and once again having to prove themselves as trans*. And whilst it’s understandable to ensure a patient is ready for such treatment, the extent of the questions can be damaging.
So how do we rectify this? It’s important to ask questions, as as an ally, you’ll be your strongest if you are knowledgeable about the situation; however, you should only ask questions if you have permission. Ask your friend, “do you mind if I ask some questions, so that I can better understand?” If they say no, you must accept that, and that they may still let you at a later date. We need to begin to move as a society from understanding that if someone is having such feelings, it’s not for attention or because “they’re confused”, but because they are valid. Being trans* isn’t easy in our world and deciding to come out is a huge step for these people. It’s time that society sees that too.