Coming out is multifaceted. Parents might have different views on sexual orientation and gender identity than their children (Fahs, 2021). Furthermore, having had expectations since the day parents realise the sex of their baby, parents might experience difficulty in accepting that their daughter no longer feels like a girl, or that their son no longer feels like a boy. Nonetheless, it has been shown that trans individuals who come out to their family tend to be more resilient when faced with negative personal experiences (Singh et al., 2014).
So, how can you go about telling your parents that you’re trans?
1. Educate them about trans matters
Your parents might not actually know what being trans really means. There are a lot of misconceptions around the topic and younger generations seem to be more aware of these issues. Therefore, you might have to prepare yourself to go over the basics and have a long talk about what being trans means, and what the physical transition process involves, if this is something you would like to do.
2. Show them that you’re willing to answer their questions
It’s easy for us to be on the defensive when we are talking about something so delicate and personal. However, answering defensively might transform your parents’ emotions into angry ones and we all know that we can’t have a rational conversation when we’re angry. Remember that your parents might be overwhelmed by this news.
3. Explain to your parents that their support is really important to you
Although your efforts to express yourself and be true to who you are are a priority, parental approval is still extremely important in the coming out process (Catalpa & McGuire, 2018). If you feel like your coming out is being met by hostility, wanting to rebel against your parents might feel like it’s the only option, but you have to keep in mind that this might take some time for your parents to process.
4. Timing is key
Try to avoid coming out during stressful periods, for example, when the family is experiencing a crisis or when there is a big event approaching, such as a family wedding. Again, remember that although you are the focal point of your coming out story, other people close to you are also going to be impacted, and it’s more likely that they will understand more easily if they are not experiencing high amounts of stress.
5. Consider different means you can use to come out to your parents
You might feel more comfortable and more prepared if you write them a coming out letter first. Most probably, you won’t be able to avoid the talk, however, writing can make it easier for your parents to process and this might give them more time to make sense of their emotions before they confront you about it.
It’s imperative that you take care of the special people around you, but it’s also crucial to take care of yourself. Prepare yourself by spending some time alone and perhaps going to therapy.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Breanne Fahs (2021). The coming out process for assigned-female-at-birth transgender and non-binary teenagers: Negotiating multiple identities, parental responses, and early transitions in three case studies. Journal of LGBTQ Issues in Counseling, 15:2, 146-167, DOI: 10.1080/15538605.2021.1914273
Catalpa, J. M., & McGuire, J. K. (2018). Family boundary ambiguity among transgender youth. Family Relations, 67(1), 88–103. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12304
James, A., n.d. Coming out as transgender. Transgender Map. Available at: <https://www.transgendermap.com/social/coming-out/>.
Singh, A. A., Meng, S. E., & Hansen, A. W. (2014). “I am my own gender”: Resilience strategies of trans youth. Journal of Counseling & Development, 92(2), 208–218. https://doi. org/10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00150.x