1. Be aware of your language and the impact it can have.
In the beginning I had to have it explained that tranny is a hate term and under no circumstances to be used. But it goes beyond this I have inadvertently hurt my husband at times through my use of language and have only realised when I have spotted his body language. An area of particular discussion and misunderstanding was my use of the language of disability, because it was the only way I could get my head around being transsexual not being a choice and requiring medical treatment including surgery.
2. Sensitively communicate your own understandings and fears of what is happening
Following on from the point above, when I explained to my partner why I struggle using anything other than the medical model to process the transition we came to an understanding about the paradigms each of us were using and why we were using them. Throughout the process it has been important for me to explain what my fears are so that, on occasion, they could be totally quashed for the nonsense they were, but at other times they could be appreciated for sensible concerns. Throughout the process what has been important is to create an environment where the one emotion which is avoided is guilt. My husband can't help being trans any more than I can help struggling with some aspects of it.
3. Get to know the practical difficulties your partner is facing
Being trans creates practical difficulties for the person going through transition. I learnt pretty early on that for my partner there are two quite big ones. The first was using toilets in public places. There are some environments where using the male toilets can be difficult for him, particularly if they are busy or the doors on the cubicles are a bit dodgy. I have learnt that when making decisions as to where to go thinking about that is important. I am becoming somewhat of an expert on knowing where to find gender neutral toilet facilities.
The other big practical problem has been finding adult masculine shoes in a small enough size. This was something I knew was a real source of difficulty for my husband and so I did some searching around and we discovered Dr. Martens were the best brand to go for. They've recently opened a store locally, and in the sale I noticed they had some shoes which were ideal for the look he is developing on special in the sale. Knowing the issue I immediately went in to check if they would still be available later on, and when the answer was negative I got them there and then.
4. Understand the law is an ass but going with the flow is important
In this post I explain about the wonders of the GRC system and the nonsense of the spousal veto which I am expected to engage with. Whilst I do consider the law an ass and would be quite happy to dig my heels in, saying I want to stay in a civil partnership with him or refuse to sign the spousal veto because I think having to exercise power in that way is repugnant I know I can't. I know that in the coming months when he applies for the GRC it is one of the most significant steps in his transition process and I just need to go through the process of jumping whatever hurdles the law puts up so he can get that bit of paper.
5. Be ready with hugs
Going through transition is never easy for anybody. However, liberating it may be as a process it does involve facing up to the gender dysphoria, going through a process of assessments in order to access treatment, taking hormones, surgery and facing a world which doesn't understand and has a tendency to stare at anybody it views as different. There is also a great deal of fear of rejection which goes along with this journey. Add in the fact that most trans people face some kind of verbal or physical abuse at some point in their journey and you will understand at times it can be an extremely painful process sometimes. Therefore, you do need to be ready with hugs sometimes.
6. Trans isn't the defining feature of the person
My husband has a range of attributes and features beyond being trans. His gender identity is only part of who he is and it is certainly not the defining feature. I have chosen to stay with him because I fell in love with a range of things about him before he came out as trans; his intelligence, his faith and his sense of humour amongst other things. Those things are still there and are far more important aspects of him than the fact he is trans.