Sunday, April 13, 2014

When We Transition, Everyone Around Us Transitions

I have always maintained that when we transition everyone transitions with us; our siblings have to get used to having a new sister or brother. Our fellow employees have to transition and even the clerk who bags our groceries. There was a Dear Abby letter that emphasizes this,
Dear Abby: I'm a divorced woman with grown children. I have always supported gay rights and thought of myself as straight. But a few months ago, I met a woman, "Stephanie."

We hit it off immediately, and I was shocked to learn she's a transgender woman who was born male. We have spent a lot of time together and are falling in love. Stephanie will be having surgery soon to complete the transgender process.

I have been surprised and disappointed by the lack of support from my family and friends, whom I always thought were open-minded. Some have voiced support, but have shown no interest in meeting her and seem uncomfortable hearing about her.

I'm excited about this relationship and would have thought my family and friends would be happy for me, as I have been alone for a long time. But now I find myself refraining from mentioning Stephanie in conversation.

How can I discuss her with others? We are taking things slowly and not jumping into anything, yet we can definitely see ourselves spending the rest of our lives together. We have already faced disapproving strangers and handled it well.

– Loves My Friend in Ohio

Dear Loves: It appears Stephanie isn't the only one in your relationship who is in transition. Both of you are, and because it is new to those around you, they may not understand it – which is why they are uncomfortable.

The fact that Stephanie is transgender should not be mentioned right off the bat. It is not the most important thing about her, and it should not be her defining characteristic. Discuss the matter with your friend and ask how she would like to be introduced and referred to. It's only logical that this will vary according to how close these people are to you.
I thing Dear Abby made an excellent point “it should not be her defining characteristic” how many times have people made that our defining characteristic. Just look at Katie Couric’s interview with Laverne Cox who was on the show to talk about her new book, but Katie Couric wanted to talk about Ms. Cox being transgender.

Yesterday I was at the town senior center attending the photo club where my defining characteristic is my photography.

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