Having someone by your side while being locked up at home is important. For those who had to go back to their small towns from college, to people right down the street. With social distances rising and the use of online communication becoming more common, how can you stay in touch with your trans friends and family right now?
What Is Trans?
Trans can be used as an umbrella term for someone who identifies their gender or sex with something different than what they were assigned at birth, but typically is associated with the term transgender. This does not mean that you identify as a giraffe or attack helicopter, that's ignorance. In LGBTQ+, trans is represented by the T. It's something that isn't a choice. You can choose a political party or religion, but not what family you're born into or who you turn out to be. Being trans is more about who you are rather than what.
Everyone comes to terms with who they are at different points in their lives. Some when they're 8, others when they're 80. It's not something that you just know about yourself when you're born. It takes everyone a different amount of time to come to terms and understand this difference about them. Identities and pronouns are different for everyone. For example, and trans man could use he/him pronouns, while someone who's nonbinary could use they/them and he/him pronouns.
Now that you have some basic knowledge under your belt, let's see what you can do to support the trans people around you!
It's no doubt that the use of social media and different communication apps have spiked since COVID-19. Take advantage of this to spend time with the people you love. Apps like Discord, Zoom, and Google Meet offer video chat. They are easy to learn and safe to use options that are compatible with both computers and smart devices. Or if the person is staying with you, having conversations face to face is great too.
The smallest conversations are a step in the right direction. Even if it's just awkward small talk, those conversations are a stepping stone in letting whoever it is in your life know that you're there for them. This type of conversation is a great start, because it opens of security and comfort on both sides when it does come time to open up more. Keep in mind that giving each other space is important to help keep any tension that there could be down.
A great rule to have is using preferred pronouns and names. It may feel awkward for you at first, but it'll eventually become second nature and make this person in your life feel more comfortable around you.
Being trans isn't something that's always on people's radar. Growing up I struggled with acceptance from those around me and myself. What helped to lead into a healthy environment was being open-minded. There are still days where I struggle with my gender identity due to some toxic ideals and beliefs, but reminding myself that change is usually good helps. This is something that I implore you to use in your life as well. You can apply change to any situation, but when it comes to someone you know being trans, it's not that hard. The person you've always known isn't leaving, their name and face is just changing. They still have the same heart, just like you.
Like it takes time for trans people to recognize who they are, we also know that it's going to take you time to do that too. That's why taking baby steps are important for both you and the trans person in your life. If you're able to take such big steps as being 100% on board right away, that's great! If not, let this person know that you're trying, and show them that you're trying.
Knowing the basics of being trans is good, but diving a bit deeper is helpful. Along with this, looking into current events and laws that effect the trans community is important too. State laws vary depending on where you are, so read into them in order to keep that person safe. Federal laws are important too. For instance, the recent reversal on transgender healthcare made by the Trump Administration will effect the status and stability of healthcare for trans individuals all across America. This covers basic doctors appointments, major surgeries, and necessary care and procedures that don't pertain to being trans. There's big, bad, small, and good things all over the country, so staying up to date is imperative when educating yourself.
Attached are some articles with more explanation to being trans and easy resources regarding laws
Keep Them Safe
Besides laws, you still have to do your part in order to keep this person safe. One of the biggest things is do not out them. To out someone it to tell others about them being trans when they aren't completely open already with it. This can be dangerous depending on your community and the other people involved in this persons life, you never know how extreme people are going to react.
Listen to them when they talk about something serious. It's important for this trans person to feel included and welcomed in life.
Keep nosey questions and comments to yourself. Things like "what's in your pants," and "are you gonna go all the way," are unnecessary and invasive. You can be curious about those things, but they're also personal things that this person may not be willing to share yet.
Gender matters. It's important to recognize this aspect of their lives, it's a big thing about their identity. Saying that "you don't see it," or it "doesn't matter to you," can come off as dismissive and upsetting, leaving that person in your life feeling unsupported.
Show UpPhoto by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
The simplest thing is to just show up. This can take whatever form you believe in as long as it is healthy and conducive to a positive outcome. Showing up to me means bringing your support, letting them know it's there, and offering a hand in any way you can.
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