- Don’t assume you ‘know’ what their authentic gender is. Don’t assume you know what they are going through. Don’t assume anything.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t give advice about anything unless you are asked. If you are worried about self-harm, call a hotline and get confidential advice.
- 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.
- 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.
More Radical Reads: I’m Gender Non-Conforming – And I Need People to Stop Pressuring Me to Pass
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[Feature Image: A photo of two people. The person on the left is looking at the camera. They have grey eyes and black stripes painted on their cheeks. They have an orange stick held in their lips. The person on the right is wearing a black fedora and they have black stripes on their cheeks. They are kissing the jaw of the person on the left. Source: philippe leroyer]