There are swaths and yards of websites for people who're questioning their genders, and for folks who actively identify as transgender and/or transsexual. This isn't one of them.
Though the world is brimming with trans people — from Canada to Cameroon, Austria to Australia — not all the people who've been touched by these issues are trans themselves. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Lovers, spouses, teachers, therapists.
None of us lives in a vacuum, and when you learn that someone you know is transgender, your frame of perception can change surprisingly fast. Questions break through your mind like bullets — What do I say? is it my fault? will there be surgery? do I have to do x, y, z or change my behavior in x instance? Emotions can run the gamut from furiously angry (I hope not!) to proud, accepting, indifferent, sad.
Most people aren't experts on what it means to be trans, or to undergo a "gender transition" in the eyes of the public. Most of the time, they don't feel like they need to be. When they do need or want to learn more, and they are not themselves transgender, the flow of information often comes to a standstill.
There's lots of trans-positive education and discussion on the Web; unfortunately, it can also be a lot of work trying to access good and relevant beginners' information. And lots of trans-negative content is marketed to the "mainstream," the "normal" people. As though trans is something abnormal!
I think that's a problem. I think it needs to be addressed.
So I'm addressing it here and now — trying to, as best I know how.
I encourage everyone to take a look at the TransWhat? pages, including people who do identify as trans, and people who [assume that they!] don't know a trans person. However, I'm targeting these explanations specifically towards those who have learned — whether recently or a while ago — that someone they are close to is choosing to transition in some way.
I hope that, by providing this information to those who might otherwise be confused, I can help maintain peace and support among trans people and their friends/families.