Some Considerations in Coming Out Trans to Your Parents and Family
by Mary Boenke, Chair, Transgender Network of PFLAG
About Your Parents
I have come to believe that when you come out to your parents as a transgender person, they need to know that:
- You're not doing this to hurt them.
- You've had these feelings since you were ___________ years old.
- You resisted coming out to yourself for _________ years.
- You really struggled with it, but it wouldn't go away; it's SUCH a compelling feeling!
- You're now pretty seriously considering (hormones/reassignment surgery/ or ___________.
- You have talked extensively with a counselor or psychotherapist, met with many other trans folks, have done some reading, and/or at this point, you believe __________ about yourself.
- If/when you change your gender presentation, you will still be the same person inside in many ways.
- You will still have much of the personality you've always had.
- You will still love music, cats, them, loud shirts, short hair, whatever, etc.
- You will still work, go to college, keep your friends, go to church, love your children ... (things that are important to them).
- You also might change in some ways - voice, hair, walk, talk, dress, etc. Be honest about what changes they should expect.
- You might look as though you were your twin brother/sister.
- You will give them all the time they need to get used to the new you. You didn't get used to the idea overnight yourself.
- You know the new name is hard! they even get the grandchildren's names mixed up sometimes ...
- New pronouns are even harder. After all, your mother changed your diapers a thousand times and knows your body ... Cut them some slack here ... (I still slip up after five years!)
- Your love life - what do you expect about your marriage, current partner, future type or gender of partner. Might as well be frank here, even if you just don't know. (I tell my friends I never cared about life after death, but love after transition - THAT concerns me.)
- You realize they may go through an emotional process, too - shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, sadness, acceptance. Know these symptoms and help them to recognize them.
Believe it or not, some parents even get to a stage of celebration! We wouldn't want to change our "new" son or daughter, even if we could!
*I often suggest writing a letter to parents or family. Read it over, sleep on it, and ask yourself: does it say everything you want to say, and in a loving way. Then THEY get to read and reread and respond thoughtfully. There will be plenty of time to talk in person later. You might also give them something to read or suggest books for them.