How to Be a Good Friend to Someone with Gender Dysphoria

So your friend has Gender Dysphoria and you know that you have to support them through everything, while still accepting that you will never fully understand what they go through. The main thing to remember is to treat them as the gender they say they are, but what does this mean, and how can you go beyond that to help them?


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    Help them by listening. Your friend will definitely have lows. Let them know you're always available to talk.
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    Don't avoid the situation. Don't try to totally ignore the fact they they have Gender Dysphoria, because they will need to talk about it.
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    Don't always talk about the condition, either, and avoid the term "disorder".
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    Always refer your friend as being the gender they are inside; avoid "he" for male-assigned girls and "she" for female-assigned boys. There are also many other pronouns that people may use, most commonly if they are non-binary. If you're not sure what pronouns to use for your friend in public (for example, if they still live as their assigned gender), ask! You don't want to accidentally out them. Outing people can place them in severe danger.
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    Compliment your friend. If your friend is a woman who was coercively male-assigned at birth (CAMAB), point out something pretty about her when you meet; don't overdo this though, actually find a good point - don't lie to her. If she's wearing cute shoes, or her hair looks especially nice, say so! Trans guys like this too! If they seem especially "manly" or handsome that day, they'd probably love to hear it, even if they grumble and try to act like they don't care. If they don't look good, mental qualities are very safe ground for true compliments. She's got an eye for fashion. He's great for remembering all the sports scores. Things that they are genuinely strong in. Don't always keep it to appearance or they may start to feel even more self conscious about how they look.
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    If your friend is a woman, invite her to your girly nights as this will do a lot for her self-esteem. Conversely, if your friend is a guy, ask him to hang out with you and do guy-things.
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    Ask for small favors appropriate to the gender your friend is inside. With a trans woman, ask her if she'd mind helping you clean up sometime or go shopping with you, girl things. If you're a guy, compliment her for being really good at the girl things. If you're hanging out with a trans man, ask him to carry your packages, smile and appreciate it if he holds the door, ask him to get the firewood, things like that. Small gender-related compliments along with these expectations can go so deep to help a trans person feel accepted. "Butch can get that stuff down from the top shelf, he's so strong. Hey Butch, would you pull the grill down so we can barbecue?" That kind of thing. Not like overdoing it, like you would with anyone of their age, health and gender. "Dear, would you please arrange the flowers? I know you've got an eye for that." No matter what they look like, these little gendered encounters go on all the time for most people and get taken for granted. They're water in the desert to someone who's been long burned by never being accepted as who they are. Don't be surprised at occasional thanks much bigger than a small favor merits, that only means that what you did meant that much to them.
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    Help them with same sex bathrooms. If you're the same gender, going in first to see if anyone's in there and beckoning them in, then standing guard is a very big favor. Most people in transition have a hard time finding a bathroom they can use, at some stages they can get trouble in either bathroom. When planning outings, scout ahead for where any mixed-use single user bathrooms are. Some places have disabled bathrooms set up separately from male or female with just one toilet in it. Anytime a friend checks this out first may save them a lot of embarrassment in the search.


  • Hug your friend often; people with gender dysphoria often have self-worth issues. You'd be surprised at how many people are afraid to touch them.
  • Don't allow your friend to become overly dependent on you to an unhealthy degree. Try to associate with others who are friendly and accepting to trans people. Introducing them to others they can trust will help them in a permanent, long term way and broaden your circles too.
  • Don't tell anyone else; if your friend wants to tell people themselves that's ok, but it's not up to you. This is also a matter of physical safety. That includes friends you think would accept them and like them - talk to your trans friend first and offer anything you think would help that new friend build trust, such as "I know someone who's active on LGBT issues and she made a passionate speech at a meeting once about how people should treat transgender people with respect. I think you'd get along with her, at least you wouldn't have that as a problem with her. Would you like to meet her? If so, would you like me to tell her first or do you want to get an idea of what she's like first?"


  • Be sure not to talk over them about their experiences as a trans person.
  • There are a lot of transgender people around. Avoid drawing attention to your friend's trans status in public, unless they ask you to.

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Categories: Friends and Family of LGBT | Supporting Friends