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Forums / Sexuality and gender identity / I'm not LGBT, but I want ideas to help a friend who is special to me

Topic: I'm not LGBT, but I want ideas to help a friend who is special to me

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. Diseraph
    Diseraph avatar
    4 posts
    6 December 2018

    Hey guys, I have a friend I video-game with routinely who recently came out to me about being transgender after we met IRL. (We've met before but this is first time since he commenced HRT). Beyond his own words of going on a journey and struggles, I couldn't get specifics but I felt helpless because despite offering a place to stay if needed, or just being a friend there they've really not engaged at all.

    Partially I know my husband comes across as ignorant and redneck but generally he dislikes ppl equally and when we discussed it, he didnt' hesitate to see our friend as a friend, not as a label. I also work in mental health which (may/may not surprise you) that put off a lot of LGBTI from chatting/depending on me.

    I guess what I'm asking here, is for some ideas of what people would find helpful from a friend if you are/could/have been be in this position. He's told me he lost friends and having difficulty getting a job (not sure directly related to all this) and I want him to know I'm out there as a resource/friend.

    N.B. I know I used him/his wrong but I really don't want this post being about political correctness.

    1 person found this helpful
  2. MaxineC
    MaxineC avatar
    18 posts
    6 December 2018 in reply to Diseraph
    Hi Diseraph, good on you for reaching out for advice on how to support your trans friend. Just a quick point before we start - does your friend identify as male or female? This isn't about political correctness, it's actually about respecting your friend's identity. Being misgendered really makes you feel like crap, so getting things like that right can actually make a big difference toward feeling supported. Even asking your friend how they would like to be addressed shows that you care.

    It's not surprising that your friend has not opened up a great deal. The sense of isolation and people not understanding your situation when coming out as trans, or transitioning, is really high. Just generally letting your friend know that you are available to talk anytime if they need support (if that is genuinely what you feel you can provide) is a good start, and they will open up to you when they're ready. Other than that, your husband's approach of treating your friend as a regular person, not a label, is also a good one.

    It sounds like your main connection is over video games, so I would just keep on the way you have been doing before your friend disclosed to you about being trans. If you're keen to listen, then just listen, you'd be surprised how often that is all that is needed. Just a general open-ended 'how are things going', the same you would for any friend provides that opportunity. You don't have to try and solve your friend's problems. If you're feeling helpless, then you can imagine how your friend must be feeling. Just being able to listen helps to know that you're not alone, and that if they're having problems keeping friends in other areas of life, the fact that you're not running for the hills is important in reinforcing that not everyone is going to react badly to your friend's transition.

    I hope some of that helps.

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Diseraph
    Diseraph avatar
    4 posts
    6 December 2018 in reply to MaxineC

    cheers, I'm still open to other opinions here.

    however in response to MaxineC, just to clarify he hasnt' told anyone else in our online group openly so hence I try to keep masculine until he's ready but he does identify as a female. I dont' want to risk slipping up and saying the wrong thing and ruining what chance i have to be a friend.

    That being said, I really appreciate what you're saying because yes I can only try to empathise with the feelings he may be having. We often dont' get a chance to be alone online, and when I try to send messages about it, he often doesn't reply. I guess I'm really concerned that if I start talking about it to him, that he'll feel like thats all I see him as rather than the label 'friend' and I'd love to know how others may feel about that.

    I will take on your advice about just keep up the "how ya going" thing though, i appreciate your words there.

  4. MaxineC
    MaxineC avatar
    18 posts
    6 December 2018 in reply to Diseraph
    Hi Disreaph, I understand you're after other opinions, but I'm thinking of others who might be reading this thread in a similar situation, and given that this is a space for LGBTIQ people and you're here presumably because you are after advice from people who have lived experience, I'm going to write a second post.

    Based on the information that you've given, it sounds like your friend is transitioning to female, so I'm going to refer to your friend as 'she' as that is the respectful thing to do.

    There are a couple of conclusions that can be drawn from your friend not replying to your private messages. Either she isn't wanting to talk about these issues when online gaming, because that's her place to go and unwind, not talk about issues; or she doesn't want to talk about it with you specifically.

    I'm sensing some discomfort in your posts with your friend transitioning, and perhaps some reluctance to receive advice about how to have these discussions respectfully (or at all). Your friend may well have picked up on this and decided that you're not someone she wants to share this part of her life with right now.

    Either way, I would suggest that you respect her boundaries, and try to continue your friendship as you have done previously.
    2 people found this helpful
  5. Diseraph
    Diseraph avatar
    4 posts
    6 December 2018

    No problems thats what I want to learn here because I'm fairly clueless (as you can tell) and I want to learn the respectful way to approach things, so I appreciate the candid advice. I apologise if I made anyone feel uncomfortable here - thats what I'm trying to prevent!

    I did end up having a brief chat with her today to say I'd be there and brought up how she'd like to be referred, and she stated it would be awhile before "he" is a she (at least online). I'm glad we could at least have a chat. I'm not demanding to be in her life, so I dont' set those expectations and she wasn't angry or avoidant.

    If there's any more advice you (or anyone else of course) can give, about understanding the transitioning experience and how to avoid anymore faux pas, I'd be really appreciative.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. MaxineC
    MaxineC avatar
    18 posts
    7 December 2018 in reply to Diseraph
    Hi Diseraph, that's great news. I forgot to say yesterday, it's really good how you're taking into account that she isn't out to the rest of your social group yet, and working around how to manage that. That's a really sensitive and positive thing to do. Great too that she replied to your message and gave you an update on how things are going. When you're talking with her, it's also ok to say that this is a new thing for you and that you want to be supportive. Be honest about how you're scared of saying or doing the wrong thing. We're all trying to muddle through this life together, and your intent to be a good person is what matters the most here.
    1 person found this helpful
  7. Diseraph
    Diseraph avatar
    4 posts
    7 December 2018 in reply to MaxineC

    Thanks MaxineC,

    I evidently have a lot to learn and I appreciate the support.

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