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Do relationships and transitioning coexist?

The Transgender Flag
The Transgender Flag

Imagine not feeling the gender you were born and wanting to make that change. Now, imagine making that change to the new gender and becoming the new person, having to fit into that new body and, what would now be considered, a new sexual preference. Imagine having to begin a relationship in this new body and sexual preference. For most it would be something they wouldn't even consider. To someone with Gender Dysphoria it is what they have to do. A relationship as a transgender person can be both scary and exciting.

I recently asked a Female to Male, or FtM, transgender friend of mine how he views relationships since starting his transition. He has been transitioning for five months. He had never lived as a male before, or even considered it, but after falling into a depression he realized he wasn’t happy in his body. As soon as he realized this, he told his partner, found a therapist, got his Gender Dysphoria diagnosis letter and was on testosterone by the next week. He considers himself a straight male, after being a lesbian for most of his life.

When asked the one piece of advice he would give to someone who is transitioning with regards to dating and relationships, his reply was: "make sure you really know yourself and are comfortable with your changes before getting into something. It is a whole different ballgame, now. Sit back and relax for a while before you jump into the dating pool. There are so many changes you are and will be making, and you have to really know yourself before it is fair for you to involve someone else’s heart." In my experience this has been the single most challenging part of transitioning and maintaining a relationship. It is also the most important lesson to learn if you are transitioning. Changes happen every day, some physical and some mental. For an accepting partner, these changes can be exciting, like unwrapping a new present as each physical change happens. Mental changes can be challenging as the brain chemistry aligns with the new gender. Relationships will change as well . What I have learned through my experience is you have to find a partner willing to meet these challenges with you.

When asked the greatest achievement in his former relationship, he overwhelmingly said it was the act of becoming himself, his real self. He also commented on the lessons learned throughout that relationship. Though his recent relationship ended, he learned and grew so much from that relationship. Without it, he might not be as comfortable and confident as he is right now. If it would not have ended, he might not have looked back at the things he put himself through and seen the lack of love and respect he had for himself. Without the Testosterone, he may not have had the courage to walk away. Walking away from an unhealthy person, regardless of how deeply in love you are with that person, is yet another of his great accomplishments. This is what you can learn from this too: No matter the end result of the relationship, something is always learned. These things add insight and experience to your next relationship.

While his relationship did not make it through his transition, many people's do. This is true in my experience. While there are many challenges in the relationships of those that are transitioning, there are challenges in anything. The key is to communicate and to be aware that your body and mind are changing. Find a partner that offers support, acceptance and is willing to be there throughout each stage of transition.