The areas that hurt most transitioners are losses of family, friends, community and employment. As society gets more accepting these tend to be less of a problem, but it would be the rare trans person who is totally unaffected. Here I want to talk about friends.
I can only speak from an MtF viewpoint, I’m sure there are trans men who can address the other direction.
Direct rejection is hard to accept. We want to explain because we justifiably feel misunderstood. If the person rejecting you is an old and valued friend it just is more painful. Yet the smartest thing you can do if there’s not some overriding reason that you have to save the friendship is to walk away.
Trying to change the minds of the ignorant can be very tough, but changing the mind of someone smart it a Quixotic endevor. Additionally you may alienate other mutual friends if you in some way vilify the person, who may not be accepting of you but probably isn’t evil incarnate. After all, you valued this person.
What becomes more difficult to accept, far more subtle, and more common is when friends distance themselves. I’m sure this happens for conscious as well as unconscious reasons.
Why? Male friends, despite initial acceptance, may just identify you as Geraldine the girl appearing version of their old pall Gerry. In fact, that general perception of me as my former self with female attributes has been common through my early stages of transition. The “we need to pretend Frank’s a girl to make him feel better.”
Months pass and the perception shifts so the new presented gender has validity. You’re becoming a women in their eyes. Now they might distance because:
- Crap, Francine’s actually good looking. Who ever knew frank would look this good in a skirt, but does that make me gay? Homophobia will drive that friend away if they aren’t 100% cool
- Whenever we talk about sports now, she just looks bored. Frank loved sports. Plus she gets pissed at jokes about women, what’s that about? Frank was cool with it.
- She talked about a date, shoes, clothing, emotions or some other uncomfortable or uninteresting area. (to them!)
Those are just some of the reasons you might not be their best bud anymore. Yet you also may distance because:
- wow, I thought these were my friends but all they ever talk about is sports. Don’t they realize they I had to pretend to be interested?
- Holy moly, Steve just made a pass at me. Doesn’t he realize that I don’t view any of them as potential partners, and besides he has a wife/girlfriend
- KMN, I just wanted to get their perspective on a work issue where i was treated unfairly and instead of sympathy I get a lecture on the political correctness police at work
The good news? Having girlfriends is great and you can always visit the old friends hen you want to.
I used to think I understood men, now I’m not so sure. Some of my friendships with men are still somewhat intact. Some are on life support. I can’t emphasize enough that this isn’t because someone did something wrong.
There are precious few relationships with men outside my professional sphere that are unchanged.
I wish you the very best on improving upon my results.