Dealing With a Lack of Support Can Be Difficult When You Are Trans

transphobiaDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/ TRT Columnist—
When I first entered the trans community I was told that I would lose people in my life if I transitioned to female. It wasn’t just one person who told me, it was many people. As a matter of fact, every single trans person I knew told me. It’s like it was part of the deal, you transition and you will lose some of the people in your life. Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay when you begin living as your true self. Things will not be the same and some friends and relatives will drop you off their friends list like a hot potato. What’s the deal with their non-acceptance and why do they turn their backs on you? Once again, I can’t say for sure, but I can only guess what’s going on in their heads.

It’s a fact that most people do not take well to change. Change may upset their world and, in some cases, rock it a little too much. It may be too much for some to handle, so a trans person will probably encounter some resistance from others when they transition to their true gender. Their opposition may be rooted in the belief that there are only two genders, male and female, a man is a man and a woman is a woman, and never the two shall meet.

Others may be misogynistic and believe that it is degrading for someone who they consider male to transition to female. Significant others may object that they married a man (or woman) and they do not want a woman (or man) to be their spouse. Children may have problems accepting their parents’ transitioning. There may be more reasons, but basically it is because to some friends or relatives, your transitioning is too much for them to handle.

When I first transitioned to female, I did lose a lot of friends and family members as my trans friends warned me. I did feel the awful pain of isolation. People who were previously in my life were now not accepting me. Some of these folks still haven’t accepted me as female. Some others, who accepted me at first, now seem to want nothing to do with me. I thought that some folks were okay with me, but evidently they aren’t.

So, what can one do? You can go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression and hopefully you will get to the last stage, acceptance of your losses. It’s tough getting through those first four stages, but it’s something most of us trans people may need to do. We may need to accept that we lost some folks and the only thing we can really do is go on with our lives without them. At the same time, we can always also wait and hope that one day they will come back to us.

Looking back on my early years in the trans community one trans woman gave me some of the best advice I ever received when she told me, “Deja, you got to learn to deal!” She was right. I needed to learn to deal with the changes in my life and especially with the losses in my life. Not everyone is going to accept me as a female and I must learn to deal with that fact. I’ve seen how other trans women deal with that fact. Some cry, some get very angry and confrontational, some try to turn the situation to a peaceful teaching opportunity, and some ignore the situations. I usually choose the teaching or the ignore route depending on the safety or danger of the situation, my time schedule, and my energies at that moment. Whatever way you choose to deal with those situations is up to you.

Losing people in your life and not being accepted by others as your true self are two of the biggest hurdles most trans people need to deal with today. For many of us it is a never-ending scenario. I hope that in the future it gets better for trans people, but for now we need to deal. How do you deal?

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has three children and two grandchildren.

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