My partner just decided to start taking testosterone and transitioning. How do I best support them and know what to expect?
When one of my partners started this process, I had the opportunity to speak to sexuality educator Lee Harrington and found the conversation so helpful. His book “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities” discusses the various changes an individual might go through during hormone, among other topics. Lee points out that no two people will respond to the hormone in the same way.
I asked Lee for his advice on how to best support your partner:
“As a partner, I recommend taking care of yourself first. Make sure you’re not projecting your fears on them as they process what is going on. Be willing to sit with them at the social security office, and be loving during your evolving sex and emotional life together, while still being authentic about your needs and desires. Stand up for them socially, being the one who calls people on using the wrong pronoun, so they don’t have to. Instead of smothering them with information you discover, ask if they are interested in what you’ve learned to make sure they are in a good place. Ask them if there are any ways they would feel best supported, rather than asking if you can do anything. The first is about them, and the second is about you.
“I applaud and appreciate you reaching out to others on supporting your partner. So many folks try to go it alone. It is important through this all to also respect your transition in how you relate to your own identity, how you relate to your partner, and how you will operate in the world at large. Though your partner can help you understand them, the rest may not be something they can offer, nor should it need to be.
“I have further resources for partners of trans and gender variant people on my website, and I hope you also find these support groups, books, and other resources useful: http://www.traversinggender.com/interest/relationships/”
When my partner and I started dating, she knew I was interested in an open relationship, and she was amenable to it. But now that we’re more “serious,” she thinks we should be monogamous. I feel more comfortable being non-monogamous, but I really care about her. What should I do?
How important is being in an open relationship to you thriving as an individual? People debate about whether non-monogamy is a lifestyle decision or an orientation. I believe it depends on the person — it can be either. Asking some individuals to be monogamous is like asking them to not be queer or Catholic or a femme, which leads to another question. What are ways that you need to “practice” this piece of your identity in order to thrive?
For instance, someone can be queer and not in what would typically be considered a “queer relationship.” Someone can have a deep relationship with God and not go to church.
Ask yourself why non-monogamy appeals to you and if there are ways of nourishing those parts of yourself without practicing multiple relationships. Maybe there are and maybe there aren’t.
Only you can know whether non-monogamy is an integral part of who you are or just something you’re interested in exploring. But before you make a decision about your relationship, commit to some serious reflection about what you need. The more you understand your own needs, the more confident you can be about your commitments to others.
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