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7 Ways to Support Someone Struggling with Gender Identity
When it comes to gender, things can get... complicated.
If someone in your life is having a challenging time with their own gender identity, they could really use your support. Here are seven ways to show them you care.
- 1. Don’t assume you ‘know’ what their authentic gender is. Don’t assume you know what they are going through. Don’t assume anything.
- 2. Listen. Listen. Listen. Open yourself. Hear. Hear. Hear. Every person’s gender journey is distinctly theirs; there are no cookie-cutter ten steps to success. Who is this person? What matters to them? How do they talk about their gender? Their passions? Their needs? Listen.
- 3. Ask Questions about HOW TO HELP. About HOW TO BE THERE. Don’t ask questions about their body or money or therapy or how this will impact their family or their job or their relationship.
- 4. Offer concrete support. Listen to what their central worries are and consider if there is a way to fortify them as they take steps toward authenticity and self-affirmation. More listening? Food? Water? Get someone close to both of you to stop bringing them down? Are they saying they need help with mental health or exhaustion? Are they asking for help with trauma and institutional violence? Find good resources. Grow the Posse of loved ones. Have a party? Celebrate this place on the journey with a ritual that marks this path? Act on the things they are asking you to act on.
- 5. Don’t give advice about anything unless you are asked. If you are worried about self-harm, call a hotline and get confidential advice.
- 6. Keep their confidences. Don’t blab. Don’t make yourself into a more important person in this story by leaking confidential information and creating drama.
- 7. Get help yourself. Find a PFLAG meeting or any other free resource that will support you as you support them. Grow love. Grow honesty. Grow yourself as a friend or confidante in this process.
"Dr. Jaime M. Grant is a lesbian feminist social justice researcher and educator who has been active in LGBTQ, women’s and racial justice movements since the early 90s. Her sexual liberation workshop, Desire Mapping, has been produced on college campuses and at LGBTQ and human rights leadership conferences around the world. Her podcast based on the workshop, Just Sex: Mapping Your Desire, captures everyday sex stories told by Desire Mappers from Beijing to Capetown, from Dallas to Denver to DC. Grant’s academic research has appeared in: The Harvard LGBTQ Policy Journal; The Reader’s Companion to US Women’s History and in SIGNS, the Journal of Culture and Society; and the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. Her autobiographical writing has appeared in popular anthologies including Leslea Newman’s The Femme Mystique and Rachel Epstein’s collection on queer parenting, Who’s Your Daddy? In 2011, she was the principal investigator for the National Transgender Discrimination Study, Injustice at Every Turn. Currently, her articles on race, gender, and sexuality appear in The Body is Not an Apology, Medium, The LA Blade, Everyday Feminism, and The Huffington Post. To listen to and support Dr. Grant’s podcast, go to justsexpodcast.com."SHOW MORE ...
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