U-M Counseling and Psychological Services

How to help yourself

When you’re ready to tell that first person — or even those first few people — give yourself time to prepare. Think through the options and make a deliberate plan of whom, when and how to approach the subject. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I know what I want to say?
  2. Who should I tell first?
  3. What kinds of signals am I getting?
  4. Am I well-informed and willing to answer questions?
  5. Is this a good time?
  6. Can I be patient?
  7. Is it safe to disclose?
  8. For some things you may wish to consider when answering these questions, take a look at  Gender Identity: Q and A.

How to help a friend

If your friend or family member tells you that they are transgender, you may be wondering how to respond. Everyone does so differently. Many are confused and have questions. Some are relieved they know what’s been on their loved one’s mind. And others are hurt they weren’t told sooner. You may feel a mixture of all three emotions and more.

Regardless of how you’re feeling, it’s helpful if you can reassure your family member or friend that your feelings for them have not suddenly disappeared. Let them know you will try your best to support them through this process. It’s OK to tell them it’s going to take some time to adjust.

Be honest with them if you have questions you’d like to ask as they, too, had questions they had to answer along the way to sharing this information. If you have questions you’re uncomfortable asking them, resources exist elsewhere. Support groups — both online and in many cities and towns across the country — can help you get the answers you’re looking for. There are also a range of books and websites that offer more information. You can find resources and answers to some common questions at the end of this guide.

In the end, knowing that you still care is what matters most to your friend or family member.