My best friend has recently identified as transgender. In a matter of weeks, he has now begun dressing in women’s clothes and has taken a different name. It has been a shock to a lot of our friends but especially to me. I had no idea my friend felt this way and I feel terrible about that. How did I not know that somebody so close to me was going through so much?
I know that this is not an easy road for my friend. I admire the courage it has taken for her to speak out. I am very proud of her. However, I cannot help but wonder about the impact that this will have on our relationship. I worry that I am losing my best friend. I fear that we will not be as close as we have always been. To be honest I really do not know what to say. I have avoided meeting her, up to now to ensure that I do not say the wrong thing. I just feel very confused and lost about what to do next.
What is the best way to handle this situation?
It is natural for you to be asking yourself these questions. You are having to adjust to a big transformation of somebody close to you, one that has taken you by surprise. It is not wrong for you to ponder what this news means for your friendship moving forwards and given that you are in shock, it is okay to be lost as to what action to take.
There is no best way to handle this transgender situation. The experience is unique to the pair of you and to your collective experience and feelings. Your friend may well be feeling lost as to what to do also, uncertain as to whether to give you space or unsure as to what your reaction is to the news. In spite of this uncertainty, if ever there was a time to be a best friend, it is now. Being open with one another about your thoughts is the first step. Trusting in the past strength of your close friendship, you can navigate this period of change together.
Be mindful of the guilt that you feel about not seeing what your friend was going through. Do not allow your feelings of guilt to cloud what is most important here. Although for you it may seem sudden, your friend most likely masked her true feelings for an incredibly long time. Acknowledge that your friend is taking great courage in the steps to identify with her true self. It is potentially a very vulnerable time for your friend as she establishes who in her world is reacting positively of her and who is not. It is also quite possibly a very empowering time for her and either way a celebratory occasion to congratulate your friend on this new lease of life.
Embrace your next meeting as an opportunity for you to offer acceptance and love. This can be a very special moment, for your friend is just now revealing to you who she truly is. Communicate to your friend that you are there for support and that you care, but state also what you fear. She will most likely appreciate your openness in expressing your concerns. Voice to your friend that you worry you may lose the connection that you share. Be clear that you are uncertain as to how to respond just now and that you worry that you may say the wrong thing because you are still in shock and still in your own process of adjustment. Ask your friend about any matters that you don’t understand or if there is anything that she needs from you. Being honest and sincere is the way forwards.
As we get older, friends come and go. We evolve and we grow, as is to be expected. But some friends are for life. Journeys are shared, good and bad, expected and unexpected. Do not allow your sense of confusion to create any further distance and uncertainty within the relationship. Embrace this transgender change and be happy that your friend is growing and evolving as a person. How lucky you are Jonathan, to have a best friend striving to be her best self and lead a fulfilled life.
Take good care,
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