I'm a middle-aged straight cis guy. When I was young people were still very much closeted and I didn't get the chance to learn about LGBTQ+ issues the way you kids can now.
My question is this. I have people in my life who are transitioning to their chosen gender. I'm really happy for them and proud of their determination in becoming who they are despite all obstacles.
So- since I never learned this organically- what is an appropriate and nice way to say congratulations? "Happy transition" or "Congratulations on your (change? new gender?) Or do I just say "I'm happy you've decided to be your true self" or ? Suggestions, please, as well as some guidelines on things I should avoid saying.
You could just say something like, "congrats!" or, "I'm so happy for you!" As someone who's had gender-affirming surgery, it felt really nice to hear words like that from my friends and helped the recovery process (emotionally).
One thing I would avoid is implying that they were not the gender they identify as before transitioning. Many trans people feel like they were always the gender they identify as inside, it's just that couldn't outwardly display that before. It's also important to remember that not all trans people can or want to go through a medical transition, and that could be for several reasons.
The best kind of response imho is just making the effort to use your friend's new names and pronouns, it felt amazing when I heard the people I love start calling me he!
Your congratulatory messages all sound good to me, and youll know what your friends like better than I do of course
As far as things to avoid, that depends on the person, though I want to say the general rule of thumb is not to ask about if they're getting surgery. Some people really like getting to explain all the ins and outs of this stuff, even if they don't plan to transition medically, others don't like revealing this or they feel put on the spot. Again, you will know these people better than I do, and if you've got questions for them I'm sure theyll be happy to fill you in, or say 'not right now', since youve got an established connection already
EDIT: Cookiewaffle made a great point with how some trans people have always seen themselves as the gender they identify with, I'm one of the exceptions that likes to refer to my younger self as 'back when i was a girl'. Everyone wears their gender differently and nobody transitions the exact same way, so if you get used to how one of your friend's transition is going, an another friend comes out, just keep in mind they might not use the same terms! You can always ask people when youre unsure how to refer to things, if and when it comes up
Glad you are being there for your friend, and part of that is being proactive about educating yourself and in being an ally. Try to always use their pronouns and new name and if you slip up simply correct yourself with a quick 'sorry' don't make a big deal about the slip. Correct people who misgender your friend (even in private) in the same way, "Actually they use ___ pronoun. So anyway..."
Doing online research and asking others about trans stuff is a good thing, but some things are particular to each person. Ask your friend how they wish to be referred to in the beforetime, some are cool with "back when he was a girl" as long as the emphasis is on their current gender being the proper one.
JCorrachComics:As far as things to avoid, that depends on the person, though I want to say the general rule of thumb is not to ask about if they're getting surgery. Some people really like getting to explain all the ins and outs of this stuff, even if they don't plan to transition medically, others don't like revealing this or they feel put on the spot. Again, you will know these people better than I do, and if you've got questions for them I'm sure theyll be happy to fill you in, or say 'not right now', since youve got an established connection already
Yesss this. I'm cis but I see so many people forget that they're chatting with another person under normal social rules. Like it's not normal to talk to anyone about their privates unless you're intimate with them or you're their doctor. It's kind of a unicorn effect- and I hope that in the future it will be less common of a reaction.
I do offer up that it is completely normal for it to feel a little weird switching names and pronouns. You've seen this person one way for a long time and you have to re-adjust your perception of them. This doesn't make you transphobic, it's just an symptom of the fact that this is an adjustment for you too. (Albeit minor in the grand scheme of things)
I have found that it's helpful to say their chosen name aloud, even if just to yourself. This is mainly because if you pay attention- people don't often address each other by their first name, so there aren't a lot of opportunities to work on that autopilot. You wanna get to the point that when you think of that person, their new name is what pops up. But again- don't sweat it too hard if it's not an instantaneous adjustment for you.