My Partner Is Transitioning – What Do I Do?

Whether it’s your first date or your tenth anniversary, the news that your partner is wishing to transition can be difficult to deal with. As the partner of a newly out trans person, it’s likely you have a lot of questions and concerns. Here are some common questions you might face and a little wisdom to get you through.

Can we still be together? – Maybe. Part of this depends on your sexual orientation and how flexible it is. If you are bi or pansexual, or generally unconcerned with labels, you may have an easier time of adjusting to your partner’s new outward appearance and open gender expression. If, however, you are very attached to your homo- or heterosexual orientation, you may find the adjustment harder. Even though your partner’s body is changing, this may not change the way you feel about them. Many couples of all orientations navigate these changes together and build strong, lasting relationships. However, realize that you are not a bad person if you find yourself unhappy with the relationship or unwilling to be with someone of your partner’s gender. You can’t change who you are any more than they can.

What if I mess up? – The process of changing from one’s assigned gender to one’s true gender is called transition, and the trans person is not the only one who goes through this. As a partner, you also go through a transition. A lot will be changing and you also need time to adjust. And you will mess up. You’ll use the wrong name, the wrong pronoun, or say something wrong in public. You’ll both be horribly embarrassed and maybe even quite mad at each other. Know that these things happen, and that these feelings pass. If you slip, give a simple apology and move on. Explain to your partner in private that you also need the grace of a transition period as your language and expectations change with them. Remember that practice makes perfect and give yourself time.

Will hormones change them? – Yes and no. The most notable changes your partner will have after starting hormones will be physical. If your partner is MtF, you may notice that over time her skin will become softer. She will start developing breasts and curves. Trans men tend to develop lower voices and more body hair, as well as some clitoral/penile growth. In general, trans women tend to end up with lower libidos, and trans men with higher ones.

But the person you love is unlikely to change drastically. It is hard to offer an average with the lack of research in this area. The good news is that most trans people express that they feel happier, less depressed, and more comfortable with themselves after starting hormone replacement therapy. Your partner may chance a little, but it’s very likely it will be for the better.

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