How to love and support your FtM partner (I will use the term “boyfriend” and male pronouns, although you may be married to your partner or he may have a non-binary identity or you may still see him as your “girlfriend”):
-Affirm his gender identity, sympathize with him and comfort him when others disrespect his identity.
-Research trans* issues as much as you can, educate yourself so you can educate others. Know what is generally considered offensive so you don’t accidentally say offensive things, don’t depend on your boyfriend to educate you or to know what is okay or not okay to say in the community (for example, he might not have a problem with the word “tranny” but many other people in the community do and you should probably avoid it).
-Seek out support if you struggle with your boyfriend’s transition. Find other significant others who are going through similar situations and talk to them. It may be difficult for you because you are emotionally invested in your boyfriend’s body and, possibly, his assigned gender. Acknowledge these feelings and allow yourself to fully feel them.
-Ask your boyfriend what words he prefers you use when talking about his body and try to honor those preferences. Remember that you have a say too, if you are uncomfortable with using certain words you shouldn’t have to. Also try your best to use the pronouns and name he prefers. If you screw up, correct yourself and move on.
-Don’t out your boyfriend without his consent. Although his transition certainly directly affects you and is in many ways a large part of your life story and identity too, you must respect his privacy. You should always ask before disclosing his trans status to someone, even if it is one of your close personal friends. Remember that he may view his trans status as something intensely private and the fact that he has shared this information with you means he deeply trusts you. It totally depends on the guy so you must be sensitive about this.
How to love and support your partner as an FtM:
-Understand that your partner may struggle with your transition and that he or she is undergoing a lot of changes as well (in regards to their sexuality/sexual identity, the way they are seen in society, etc). Even if you consider yourself “fully transitioned” or don’t think about your trans status on a day-to-day basis, to your partner it may be completely new.
-Don’t try to force a sexual identity/sexual orientation on your partner in order to affirm your own gender identity. If your partner considered themselves primarily attracted to women before you started transitioning, you can’t expect them to give up that identity over night. Similarly, if you are dating a queer, bisexual, or pansexual person it is wrong to insist that they are straight/gay and erase their sexual identity. Although it can be unnerving to be a man dating a straight man or lesbian woman, your partner’s identity is their business and something that transcends their relationship with you. The only right you have is to demand they see you and relate to you as a man, not that they change their sexual orientation for you.
-Keep your partner informed on your thoughts and feelings on your gender identity and transition as they evolve. Don’t leave them in the dark in regard to your transition. You should let your partner know if you’re suddenly considering bottom surgery, thinking about going off of testosterone, or wanting them to treat your body differently than they already do. Communication is key, and keeping them on the same page as you is important in a relationship.
-Do not use your gender identity as an excuse to force your partner to do anything they may be uncomfortable with. Although strap-on sex (just as an example) may be very affirming to your identity, if it makes your partner uncomfortable you should back off of the idea.
-Also, don’t use your gender identity as an excuse for sexism/misogyny/general assholeness. This is a general rule, but it especially applies to those in relationships with women. Just because you identify as male doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to expect your girlfriend to suddenly play a traditional female role in your relationship. It especially doesn’t mean you are allowed to tell her to do your laundry, make you dinner, or fix your clothes. Although clear gender roles in your relationship might make you feel more masculine, they can be unfair to your girlfriend (although, if she’s comfortable with whatever, than by all means do what you wish).
meaning, my dear Ian, I am comfortable with anything you need me to do, but you will be making your own waffles and sandwiches. :P ♥