One of the biggest challenges with transitioning is dealing with that feeling of being all alone — even when surrounded by people who love us. Transwomen tend to have more resources available to them as there are more of them than transguys (the last figure I heard was that there was 1 in 30,000 for MtF transsexualism and 1 in 100,000 for FtM transsexualism — see study results here — although that is a moving target it seems). And as a result it can be hard for transguys to find resources and support groups. Most work is being done to address needs of transwomen while the guys get kinda left out. I’m very thankful to be in NYC where the LGBTQ Center has a support group dedicated to those who fit onto the Masculine Spectrum (an important note: this group is designed for anyone who identifies as “masculine”, not just those going through medical transition).
A few thoughts first:
- Your family will always love you. They may not understand and it may take time for them to come around but somewhere, deep under their anger, fear, guilt and confusion, they do truly love you. Never assume it will be a negative response as people feed off of negativism.
- Remember that you’ve been processing this choice for a while. Friends and family will be shocked to hear about your choice, unless they’ve been privy to your thought process for as long as you’ve considered this. To them, it appears as sudden and they need time to process and understand this as well. Be understanding and patient with them.
- The world isn’t all against us. There are a lot of people out there from our own groups to allies who do want to help us. They know we’re suffering in the bodies we have and understand that we desire to be in the body we should be in.
- Remain positive. It can be hard sometimes when faced with hatred but it will be the thing that keeps your soul going.
Now, that said, where to turn when none of this seems to work and you need to vent to someone who understands exactly what’s going on?
Two main online resources are the FtM-Trans Yahoo Group and Transmen Yahoo Group. Both groups have been active for over 8 years and provide an online option for those in smaller communities where creating a group may not be possible. That said, it may be possible to find others in your community here and eventually do your own in-person group, even if it’s just over coffee at the local coffee shop.
One of the best sites for a listing of Support Groups is TG Crossroads FTM Support Services page. It lists primarily online groups that are city-specific and general online places to get resources. Most major cities, particularly northern US, will have a support group somewhere. But if you’re in a big city and you have no support group, start one! Seriously. It’s very likely that you’re not the only one and that there are others who need help too. If you do start a group consider the following ideas to help ensure that the group stays successful, focused and enjoyable:
- ensure that all members speak up and don’t let it be overdominated by one or two speakers
- respect all gender pronouns and gender variants; not everyone is medically transitioning or knows if that is really their path
- establish the importance of having members speaking from the *I* and not being a spokesperson for everyone
- don’t target someone to be the topic of discussion; sometimes people rant or vent at meetings and don’t necessarily want to discuss it — they just want to be heard
There are also general respect rules like cell phones off, no texting during meetings, set arrival and departure times, and confidentiality (what’s said in group stays in group). There may be others that you and/or members of the group would want to consider. Don’t get bogged down with rules or guidelines for the group nor make them set in stone. The most important thing is that the group is welcoming to all who enter the doors. We are already shunned and kept out of some areas; our one home should be open to us all.