Before I transitioned, I met a lot of trans women with similar interests online. I think they gravitated towards me because they knew I was struggling with my gender identity and they wanted to help me take the next step forward when the time was right. Now they’re an invaluable source of support for me in my life.
Whether you’re coming out to your family or going shopping for clothes or anything in between, having fellow transgender friends who help you fight back against the loneliness you might be feeling as an outlier in our society is invaluable.
Unfortunately, meeting other trans people isn’t easy. In fact, it can be extremely difficult if you live in an area that’s largely separated from queer and trans communities. Although I live in the New York City area, my local trans community is very small and largely tied to my alma mater.
But there’s many ways to meet trans men, women, and non-binary people without having to worry too much about where you’re located. Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up for making trans friends:
1. Check Out Online Communities
The internet pretty much revolutionized transitioning. Thanks to the sheer amount of information out there on being trans, many of us began transitioning in our early 20s and teens. But the internet isn’t just for learning about transitioning. It’s also the best way to meet other trans people.
Trans communities exist all over the internet and they’re as varied as they are popular. On Reddit there’s /r/transgender, /r/asktransgender, and /r/transadorable for chatting about trans news, asking questions about transitioning, and sharing selfies, respectively. On Twitter, there’s a vibrant community of trans women under the #girlslikeus hashtag who are chatting about everything from anime to the presidential elections. And if you’re more inclined to use Tumblr, there’s the #transgender, #mtf, #ftm, and #enby tags, just to name a few.
The internet is one of the best resources around when it comes to finding other trans people and the community you choose all comes down to your personal preferences.
2. Go To Local Trans Events
This one might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. If there’s a local event happening geared towards trans people, go to it! These are excellent opportunities to meet trans people in the nearby area and join up with a larger queer community right around the corner.
Granted, there’s a bit more trial and error involved here. Specific events tend to draw out specific kinds of people. For instance, throughout the New York City Topside Press Trans Women’s Writing Workshop, members of the Brooklyn and Manhattan trans communities come out to meet the Workshop’s participants. When I went, many of us were writers and artists in our early-to-mid-20s, myself included. It was a great way to meet folks and grab drinks with other trans men and women with similar tastes in prose and poetry. But if your interests tend to lean towards anime, manga, or video games, a poetry reading might not be your first choice.
Local community events aren’t the only way to meet other trans people. If you’re accessing medical care from a trans or LGBT clinic, many centers provide support groups and group therapy sessions where you can meet other trans people. In particular, if you’re located in the greater New York City area, Callen-Lorde offers groups for people both under and over 21. Check in with your local care provider for more info.
3. Make Use of Your Social Circle
When it comes down to it, trans people are pretty common. Studies may say we’re only one or two percent of the population, but ask any trans woman in Brooklyn or Toronto and they’ll tell you: we’re often surrounded by other trans people.
If you’re having trouble meeting other trans folks, consider stepping back and thinking about your immediate social circle. Do you know an acquaintance who is transitioning? Or maybe a friend has a trans friend who is looking to hang out with other trans people? Take advantage of those opportunities. Reach out and don’t be afraid to say hello. Trans people love to meet other trans people.
Try checking out community events with your friends too. If you’re invited to see a panel or a reading with a friend, ask them to introduce you to people they know while you’re there. Hanging out in the local community is a great way to go from one or two trans friends to several dozen.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to meet other trans people. Many of us live far away from each other and if a queer or trans community isn’t nearby it can be difficult to find a group of people offline to call family. But it’s definitely not impossible to do. By making the most of your social circle you can find a group of people to call your friends and family. Just hang in there. Soon enough you’ll be surrounded by tons of people who understand and respect you for who you are.
Original by: Ana Valens