This forum has been great and I'm happy there is a LGBTQ+ section! I'm bisexual myself and in a loving relationship with a wonderful woman. I was somehow super lucky to not plague myself with questions about my sexual orientation, and even more lucky that I have a very accepting family, but I know a lot of people don't have it that easy. Community support like this, even online, is awesome!
I'm writing because a friend of mine just told me she thinks she might be trans/gender fluid. She doesn't know herself what's going on exactly so I'll refer to her with female pronouns here as that's how I've known her most of my life, but of course I will respect her choice of pronouns if/when she makes one. She lives in Europe whereas I have moved to Australia so we communicate online for now, but she will come visit for a few weeks soon and I want to make her feel as comfortable as possible. She's going through some pretty tough stuff right now.
Actually, she's been going through a tough time since her early teens. We've known each other since pre-school, but haven't always been super close and kind of lost touch during middle/high school. We reconnected on a more regular basis in our early twenties. I guess you'd consider she had a bit of "behavioural" problems as a kid but it got much worse when she hit her teen years and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals. She's been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, induced/reinforced(?) by trauma, so she has PTSD too. I think finally getting the diagnosis has helped her tremendously as she was finally able to find answers/resources and she has been doing generally better in the last two years. She's an awesome person, full of energy, and a talented artist.
A few days ago she disclosed to me she has recently started to dress like a man and maybe wants to be one. She said she never really felt like she fit the "girl" requirements but not really the "man" ones either. She also told me being a man makes her feel "safe" so she wants to remove all marks of her femininity. As a friend, I will support her in whatever her everyday or life-long needs are. But I'm also thinking it must be pretty hard to navigate between what she really feels she IS and what her brain tells her would be "safe to be" after being sexually assaulted.
So how can I help? It's not my place to address this directly with her (I'm a friend, not her psych) but we do talk about it so I don't want to say the wrong thing.