So here I am at my work place and a coworker gets me alone. She has tons of questions about my wife who has been transitioning for several years. For the most part, I will answer any question asked of me as long as it is not intrusive. She starts by saying that she is supportive of people being whoever they want to be. As nice as that sounds, it is such inaccurate information. My wife is just accepting who she is whether she wants to be it or not. The majority of the population is so misinformed about what it means to be transgender that I think the ignorance just fuels the fear.
The definition for Transgender; of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person was identified as having or assigned at birth. This definition is so important to remember so that we, as allies, can speak about the transgender experience correctly. Nowhere in those lines does it say that the transgender person is changing into the opposite gender. Helping others to understand can only enhance the lives of trans folks everywhere. So if I had agreed with her and said, “Yeah, my husband woke up one day and decided that he wanted to be a woman,” then I am furthering the misinformation that the majority of the population thinks is correct.
"AS THE PARTNER OF A TRANSGENDER PERSON I FEEL AS THOUGH IT IS IMPERATIVE TO SHARE THE PROPER INFORMATION."
Some things that are false facts about being transgender; men do not decide to change into women and women do not decide to change into men. He is not becoming a woman and she is not becoming a man. Being transgender is not, nor will it ever be a decision. The only decision they have to make is how far they need to take their transition in order to feel like their authentic selves. This is the way they were born. However because they were born with a certain genitalia, society dictates the way in which they need to live their lives. As the partner of a transgender person I feel as though it is imperative to share the proper information. The language we use as partners and allies is so important. We are the folks on the front lines, usually the ones out there educating others because most people feel more comfortable asking us questions rather than our partners.
As the cisgender partner, nine times out of ten a friend, family member, or acquaintance will ask me a question about my wife instead of approaching her. In my situation I would rather be the one to answer that person rather than have them trigger my wife’s dysphoria, and I always utilize the opportunity as an educational moment. There have been times when I was asked a question that I did not feel qualified to answer simply because I am not transgender and felt that I did not have the proper language. In those cases, I have then brought the subject to my wife and asked her the best way to answer or explain a question like that.
Every time I talk to someone who says that they know nothing about the transgender community, I hope that I am helping to spread awareness. I once had a woman tell me that she never met a transgender person before and I simply said, “Well how do you know that you haven’t?” I continued by saying, “They don’t look any different than you and I do.” I could see the lightbulb turn on at the top of her head. I am fairly certain that she walked away from our conversation thinking that we are all just humans. Transgender and cisgender folks are more alike than not. I believe that all partners and allies have the opportunity to educate anyone willing to learn. If we all just thought before we spoke, then perhaps the cisgender population could see the beauty in every person.