I have a friend who just found out he was really a woman. I love him still, or her, but I’m supposed to call him by masculine terms until his mother leaves. But when he asks me for advice, I feel at a loss.
This person has been my best friend since I moved into town. No matter what crap we’ve gone through together, he has always been my friend, and he will remain my friend. I really want to be able to support him, but I am unsure of what to say or do sometimes. He isn’t suicidal, but I can tell he is still uncomfortable in the skin he lives in now. I really want to help.
I am so glad that you decided to write to us. Your friend is extraordinarily lucky to have you, and I can tell just how much you are eager to be a source of comfort, help, and understanding. Please rest assured that your feeling at a loss for advice is just a sign that you are so invested in your friend’s well-being and that you want to do right by him. By writing to us here at the Trevor Project, you are taking a very important step to ensure that you can be as supportive to your friend as possible. As you said, he has been loyal to you through thick and thin and there is no better way to return that favor than by becoming as informed as you can. In learning more about these issues and helping your friend to understand his circumstances and the resources that are available , you will be taking an important step in helping him become more comfortable in his own skin.
By vowing to be unconditionally supportive to your friend and listen to him as much as he needs, you have already taken a significant step in helping him during this significant time in his life. Learning that genetics and the way one sees him or herself differ is undoubtedly very difficult for anyone, and it’s extremely important to have friends like you as people come to terms with these things. It seems like there might be some complications involving his mother as well, so that’s all the more reason for you to be a knowledgeable resource. There are easily-accessible resources that you can utilize and share with your friend. Depending on how your friend personally identifies, you might want to send him this: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/transgender.pdf. You can also share this resource page, which has lots of pertinent information: http://www.cbst.org/Community/Transgender/Trans-Intersex-and-Gender-Queer-Resource-Page.
I would also encourage you to share this resource from PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), which has a wide range of information for young people who are grappling with gender identify and/or sexual orientation. This could be especially useful for your friend as his mother continues to grapple with this time in his life as well. If he is interested in connecting with other people in-person, your friend can also find a local PFLAG chapter here: http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=803. Finally, this PFLAG pamphlet is specifically designed for families and friends of transgender people, so I would highly recommend passing it along to your friend: http://community.pflag.org/Document.Doc?id=202
Remember, we are always here and eager to talk live if your friend (or you, Wynne) ever want a listening ear. You can always reach us at 1-866-488-7386. You can refer your friend to Trevor Space, which is a safe social networking space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth who are between 13 and 24. You can access Trevor Space here: http://www.trevorspace.org/
Thanks again for your thoughtful and considerate letter. Your friend is lucky to have you in his life, and we at Trevor are always eager to listen and help in any way we can!