Telling your family
I came out to my grandmother twice, once when I was 12 and then again right before I graduated high school.
Fortunately for me, my grandmother was very supportive. She didn’t understand why I was crying on her bed at the young age of 12. She told me she’d told my mother I was a boy when I was only two. She’d always known I wasn’t a girl.
She was the one that talked my mom into letting me wear boys’ clothes. She bought me wrestling figures, action figures, trucks, and cars. She bought me kids’ movies that were targeted at boys. She stayed in the boys’ clothing aisle and protected me from anyone that had an urge to say something.
As I looked back on all of these memories, it all made sense. I realized that
she honestly already knew. She hugged me and held me until the tears stopped falling. She reassured me that I was hers and she loved me and only wanted me healthy and happy.
Unfortunately, this is a rare scenario.
Kids as young as 10 are kicked out or sent to live with another relative. In a matter of moments, these kids go from being loved and supported to cut off and outcast. Other family members receive the news from angry, frustrated, confused, and sad phone calls. Nobody knows what to say, but they are silently relieved that it’s not their child.
Kids are forced to conversion therapy or shoved into pastors to try and “cure” whatever foolishness they’ve picked up from “God knows where.” They’re threatened with going to hell for being a sinner, even though most people commit a sin in the first hour of being awake every day. Do you have on socks right now? Well, do I have news for you!
Some of them are even met with a violent reaction. Some parents, step-parents, or other relatives become so overwhelmed with fury that kids have died at their hands.
Then there’s bullying at school. Kids are disrespectfully outed, outcast, bullied, raped, and beaten. Friends turn to enemies in a flash. Some teachers conveniently ignore what’s going because they either don’t want to deal with it or they agree with the bullies. They simply rather focus on something else. Other teachers, the great ones, jump into action and provide a safe space and a listening ear.
How do you bring up the topic of being transgender to your parents?
This question gets asked a lot, no matter the age. They’re scared of losing the only family that they have. They’re terrified of being unaccepted and outcast.
There isn’t an instruction manual for this type of thing. Everyone is different, so there are countless directions that can be taken. The first time I came out, I printed out a bunch of articles and gave them to her to read. The second time I wrote a letter then hid in the bathroom, due to my
This is what you should do if you don’t have any idea how they feel about transgender people.
If you don’t have any idea whatsoever about how they feel towards transgender folk or the LGBTQ community in general, it is safer to use a relevant news story or make up a person at school.
You can bring up something like the Idaho bills and ask how they feel about them. Ask them if using the same bathroom with trans people makes them uncomfortable. You do not want them to grow suspicious of you, so you need to be as careful and contained as possible at this point.
If you’re worried about bringing up a news article, make up a person at school. Tell them that there’s this new student and give them a name. It’s better to use a plain name or one that can easily be forgotten. Look up the most common names and pick one of those. This will allow them simply let the name go in one ear and out the next.
You do not want them trying to look this person up on social media or asking other parents about them. Tell them that you’ve seen them in the hallway or at lunch or maybe even that they’ve been put in your class.
Tell them there’s a rumor going around that they might be transgender or say that they’re out. Tell them that they carry a small rainbow or trans flag with them. Simply say it’s attached to their backpack or it’s a pin on their clothing. Use something small because small details can be forgotten easier.
Lie and say you’re not sure how to feel about it. This will ease them into parenting mode which will give you extra cover. They will be more concerned about you than this made-up person. This is where they’ll have the floor to give you their opinion.
Whatever you do, do not react negatively. You have to make this feel like a normal conversation. If you can’t keep from reacting negative, lean towards the confused and overwhelmed side but make sure they think it’s
because you don’t know how to feel and not because you’re trans yourself. If you need to get away, tell them you need time to think about it yourself.
Maybe make up a story about seeing them get bullied and tell them the scene bothered you. You can even use a little bit of violence to convince them you were shaking up, but don’t use too much or they might contact the school. Just use a little shove into a locker or say the bully got in their face.
This is what you do if they’re a Trump supporter or you know that they are anti-LGBQ.
This part is for people who are underage or still live/depend on their parents for anything. If they openly support the government’s attack on trans people or have already commented that they would react ugly to one of their children being trans, you need to determine how safe you are in that household.
If they’ve said they would hurt you physically or kick you out, you need to
think long and hard about whether you’re willing to go down that route. Grab a notebook or pull up a notes app on your phone or at your computer.
You need to take note of how safe you are in that house, any other place you know for a fact that you can go to if needed, a list of people like friends, older relatives, teachers, and other school staff that you can go to if you need help or you feel like you’re in danger.
You also need to take note of what you are capable of handling on your own. Do you have a job? Do you have a means of transportation? List all of the homeless shelters and foundations that could help you with housing, food, and bills if you need it.
List down everything that your parents do for you financially. Do they buy and prepare food? Do they buy your clothes and toiletries? Do they pay car insurance and give you gas money? Are you on their health insurance or do you have your own?
I need you to over this document time and time again, adding anything you forgot. Look long and hard at this list and determine how bad off you’ll be if your parents don’t support you financially anymore.
If you are underage and don’t have anywhere else to go or any other relative that would be willing to take you in, I highly recommend you wait until you’re older and in a situation where you can provide for yourself. If you’re over 18, but in college (with your parents’ financial support) or still living with your parents and they help you out financially, I highly recommend waiting until you are financially independent.
I understand that it’s hard and it feels like you’re never going to be able to start transitioning and live your life authentically, but this absolutely won’t last forever. Your safety needs to be your first priority. If you are not safe to come out, then don’t.
This is what you should do if you believe your parents will be supportive and accept you, even if it might take a little while for them to process everything.
If you have every reason to believe that you will not be harmed, emotionally abused, outcast, and kicked out, then I believe you should go for it. However, still take the time to come up with a backup plan. Ask a friend or relative if you can stay the night if it all hits the fan.
Let a friend know what you’re planning. Post it on Reddit or social media if you’re not out. Someone else needs to be aware just in case things turn violent or you do get kicked out.
There are various different ways to go about this. It depends on what type of person you are and also what type of person your parents are. Take some time to think what medium they react best to.
Do they watch the news or read articles on their phone/tablet/computer? Do they do both? Would they rather talk in person or do they respond better to a text or letter so they can process it before they respond?
How do you feel most comfortable? Does talking make you anxious or are they pretty easy to approach? Would you be able to handle writing them or printing them off a letter with some articles and sit down with them while
they read it?
Do you feel like you could ease into it or will you need to get straight to the point? Feel free to rehearse what you’re going to say either with a friend over the phone or in-person or in front of your mirror.
Do you want it to be a family meeting or would you prefer to do it one on one? Do you want to structure it as a round table discussion or would you like to speak first and then give them the floor? Do you want it to be a natural, free-form conversation or an organized one.
Take all of these things into consideration and come up with the best plan. You should be your number one priority, but also be willing to improvise. You do not want to come off hostile or controlling because that will urge them to jump into defense mode.
Do not be afraid to ask if you can finish before they speak or to ask them to read the whole letter before they say anything. If you’re using articles, explain that you’re open to answering questions about any terminology they don’t know. Tell them that you are open to a whole discussion after
they’ve done the reading.
Be honest and upfront about what you need from them. Ask a friend to join, if that would make you more comfortable, but also ask your parents if they’d be comfortable with them around as well.
This is a big moment, but remember that this is your life and your decision.
At the end of the day, it’s absolutely your call. If you want Hormone Replacement Therapy and surgery, it is your right and your decision. You are both judge and jury. They can have suggestions and opinions, but you do not have to agree or follow them.
You deserve to live in your truth, no matter what. On this journey, you might lose people, but that just makes room for even better people.