If you are transgender then coming out as trans to your family is one of the hardest things that you will have to cope with on your journey.
Of course, this is second only to dealing with the medical & governmental professions!
I’m writing this so that others who are approaching the subject with their family have some kind of reference point. Maybe a what they can expect and how mine and others families have dealt with this.
One of the most difficult things I found about my transition so far is coming out as trans to family, and dealing with how they treat you, as well as there thought processes about your transition.
Ultimately, only you know your family but I hope this helps someone, somewhere.
Coming out as trans to your family – Planning
Plan #1 – What to say?
You need to think about this because its not as simple as saying, “I’m trans”
Imagine, “Hi, I’m Trans!”
I know some people have done and because of their family its either gone down well or like a lead balloon.
Maybe something softer might be better such as, “Hello Mum/Dad/Brother/Sister. There’s something you need to know, I’ve got something to tell you which is really important to me. I’m Transgender and have always felt this way!”
Even if it was that simple then you need to think about what is going to happen after you’ve said that to your parents/family.
They will have questions, lots of questions. Like “Why?”, “What’s that mean?”, “Are you gay?”
You need to be prepared as there will be questions, after you’ve told them, in the time shortly after you’ve told them and for a long time afterwards.
I am asked questions even now by friends and family, after almost four years, because they have heard or seen something which they need or cant find an answer to.
It will be a learning curve for everyone involved. Not just you!
Plan what you want to say and be prepared for questions.
I can’t tell you what to say, but your conversation needs to explain your feelings, how you’ve felt through your life, how you feel now, your mental attitude, why you need be who you are/to do this, why you need to be the real you and your feelings.
I cant express how important these things are as ultimately this is your life and it will help others understand!
Before you start, Plan #2 – is it safe?
Before you start there is something you need to think about and that’s, “What is the worst thing that can happen?”
I’ve added this because if you rely on your parents, for living or financial support, and if things go wrong can you actually survive without them?
If the answer to this is no, then by telling them you might make things worse for yourself not better. Sorry if that’s a major bummer!
We all want to live our best lives but if by “coming out” puts you in mortal or financial danger then please don’t do it.
Remember that your parents and family will have different social, religious, political and emotional thoughts and views if they are from a different generation.
I know of people who have come out to their parent to be physically ejected from their parent house in just the clothes on their backs!
Having said this before, I’ll say quite, you know your parent better than anyone else!
A few things to think about.
- Do you do this in person, or over the phone/email/shout it off a mountain top!
- What is their reaction likely to be?
- Will they understand what you are telling them?
- Will they be angry/mad/sad/upset/happy?
- Will they be able to process what you have told them? (is this good or bad news to them?)
- How will they take such news that their son or daughter want to change gender?
- Will they understand that you want to change gender? (and what involved in doing this?)
- What will they think about you changing gender? (religious/political/societal beliefs?)
- Will they understand the implications for you, in doing this? (Name change, hormones, dealing with medical and legal professions?)
- Will they understand the implications for you, if you don’t do this? (Depression, Gender Dysphoria,
- Will they understand the implications for themselves? (with what they are likely to face from their friends, other family, society in general?)
- Will they understand how society will treat you and them? (good, bad and indifferent)
- Will they be supportive? (think hard about this one!)
- The probability of you being excommunicated? (cut off from your family)
Sorry, if any of that sounded negative, its not means to be. I don’t want to see anyone out on the streets, cut off or worse because of bad timing or your families reactions.
This brings me onto…
Plan #3 – I can’t verbally tell them
For some people it might not be possible, safe or even a good idea to tell parents, friends and family in person.
You might want to write a letter or send an email.
A letter is more personal, especially if its written.
An email is quite impersonal if you ask me, but for some people it might be the only way.
Personally, I did tell my acquaintances via the medium of Facebook. Which I know isn’t exactly personal but I recorded a short video, about 2 minutes long and explained my feelings and then put it on Facebook with the privacy settings set to, Friends. I got over 400 people comment which was 90% of my Facebook friends.
Plan #4 – The right time
When is the right time?
There is never a perfect time and picking the right time is going to make things easier for you and your parents because of all the things listed above.
My perfect time was now, but being financially secure and of sound of mind, I took the decision, to do it now.
That and the fact that my phone calls to try to explain this were either dismissed or not understood.
Because of not choosing the right time, some of my friends have had to remove themselves from bad situations. They have since had to completely walked away from family to live life as they want. Others have had to rebuild relationships because the time wasn’t right for their family.
You will know when the time is right but be careful my lovelies, I would not want you to put yourself into a situation where your life or wellbeing is in danger!
If you think your parents will be supportive then I wish you well, if you think your parent will be extremely negative then have a backup plan in place or excommunicate yourself from family life before you live your best life.
I can’t tell you when the right time is but you will know when the time is right for you.
How hard is it to tell your parents/family you’re transgender?
First of all let’s discuss the process of dealing with your family and actually telling them this is who you are, and that you are transgender. Then let’s talk about their reaction to what you just told them.
I am sure that some people think that I’m in the enviable position that my family are quite liberal, not religious, and have some semblance of self thought.
I did struggle to tell my parents, as I did feel a massive amount of anxiety and panic about how were they would react when I came out to them as transgender.
I am sure you must be going through this now if you are reading this article?
Its not an easy thing to sit down in front of someone, especially parents, and tell them that you are someone different to what they see.
While I don’t have a magic wand as to how to tell your parents/family that you are trans. Just because you know your parents better than I.
Irrespective of how you think they will respond you either tell them and face the consequences or be prepared to not tell them and either they find out from other sources or if you know the reaction is going to be negative, don’t tell them and cut them out of your life. This is a sad state if this is the case!
One would imagine that if you already have a negative relationship with your parents then this will probably be easier than dealing with their reaction. They may class what you are telling them as bad, negative or unacceptable.
Friends of mine have ejected their parents out of their lives because they have religious or societal ideologies which means your existence is an abomination in their eyes. Sad but true!
No one said it was going to be easy!
Coming out as trans to your family: My story
This was perhaps the hardest one for me, and I know from experience of speaking to others that this has been very difficult for many.
This is because most of us are closest to our mothers than other family members, and they see us differently to others as they ultimately gave birth to us.
One of the things I’ve heard from a few mothers, my own included and those of trans friends, is that they will always see you as their baby boy or girl. Irrespective of what you are now or want to become!
Here lies one of the problems. Unless you’ve been the very opposite of your birth sex all your life. Feminine male or masculine female.
This mindset of the mother is across a range of ages, as I have trans friends in their 60s, down to their teens.
For me its taken over 3 and a 1/2 years for my mum to see me as something else and its only recently that I’ve been able to sit down with mum, and have a long talk about things like pronouns, and how she should speak about me. Especially in the third person, but let me tell you about the process it’s taken me to get to this point.
When I first told my mum she was very reluctant to listen to what I had to say and would not acknowledge that I was who I told her,. This however was me trying to explain over the phone, which I know is not the most ideal thing to do.
Realising that a phone conversation wouldn’t do and that I needed to tell my parents in person I gave up on the phone and actually drove the 1.5 hours to my parents house and presented myself to my parents. Best frock and makeup done to a tee.
On arriving at their house, I was initially met by my dad who got what I’d been trying to tell them for 3 months and immediately gave me a big hug and asked me if I was happy. My mum on the other hand burst into tiers and even after sitting with her and talking to her for over 5 hours, was still in tiers!
She even told me, “Its a passing phase and you’ll get over it”, “I’ve lost my son” and “I don’t understand”, “Why?” and “But WHY?”
The next 12 months were hard as my mum struggled to see me as myself and initially treated me slightly different and the subject always got back to me as my old self. This was compounded when my father died in early 2020 as he really was a buffer between myself and my mum.
During the time after my dad died she did misname me again and again and I spent over 2 years correcting her but she really couldn’t understand my pronouns.
Fine, you don’t need to understand my pronouns but you need to understand that you need to refer to me differently when you talk to others about me.
Its only in the last 6 months that she has began to see me as who I have always wanted to be and used the correct pronouns but she still refers to me as “my son” when in conversation with other people. Which really began to mess with my head and if I’m honest, I started to get angry at her.
Only in the past few weeks has she made an attempt to refer to me as “Mikki” or “my daughter”.
This is massive progress!
We had a very long chat about this and whist I have no desire to upset my mum, by the same thought process I also don’t want to feel awkward in her company and have asked her to refer to me as “Mikki” when she refers to me if she cant remember the correct pronouns.
Its not 100%, but it is progress.
Of course this is just my experience and other people may have had different experiences towards coming out as trans.
I know I am lucky that my mum is still speaking to me as I know others have experienced scenarios such as being completely cut off by their parents when they have come out to them.
Even to the point where some of my friends have been removed completely from their parents lives, or they have had to remove themselves from their parent lives.
Its not uncommon for parents to be unsupportive if they don’t accept or understand about your transition.
Their beliefs in a certain deity, political views or belief in what the media says about transgender people have forced this.
On the flip side, I have friends whose parents who have been nothing short of amazing, super human like, and not only tried to understand but gone out of their way to provide love and support. Some of the parents of my younger trans friends have even attended the support groups I attend, just so their parents can further understand what they’re going through and help.
Brothers and sisters
Again, only you know your brothers and sisters.
I felt bad about only one thing when telling my brothers and sisters. That’s that due to their reaction, I will probably never see my nephews and nieces again while they are under the control of my siblings.
Alas sad, but I can live with this.
A “Screw them, they can do one” mentality I know. Unfortunately, their reaction was that I was some kind of sexual pervert because they believe the media BS. As transgender people we know that this is bullshit, we are not sexual predators and no threat to their kids! Statistically, children are more likely to be abused by their own parents than a Transgender relative.
The wider family
I don’t have any remaining grandparents. My last grandparent died about 15 years ago.
My fathers mother would have no doubt accepted me for who I am as she loved me and would have accepted me for what I want to be. She was a very loving, understanding person.
My mums mother wouldn’t have understood, just because of her deep seated beliefs and her inability to deal with “not normal”. Ironically I think her late husband would have accepted and helped me as he saw nothing but joy, even in my grandma!
I’m going to be brutally honest about the rest of my family, again your experiences will be different, but any adverse reaction should be treated in much the same way and that “its my life. My life”
This has been mine!
Some of my uncles, aunts and cousins have been negative. Some have been understanding/tried to understand/been supportive. Those that haven’t been, well, bye.
This for me my friends have been my godsend.
I have absolutely amazing friends and almost all of them have been so, so supportive and understanding and many have even taken time to go and research what I am going through of their own accord because they didn’t understand.
I’ve sat and talked to many of them not because I want to talk about my transition but because they want to know, help and support me!
My closest friends have been amazing and now most do not even see me for the person I once was but as the person I now am.
How your family react to what you tell them is ultimately not going to be the same as my families reaction.
I wish you luck. I hope you have a positive response.
LGBTQ+ and Transgender Support organisations
This is not an exhaustive list but many of these organisations deal directly with LGBTQ+ issues and family issues.
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG) – https://www.fflag.org.uk/
Offers support to parents, friends and family members of those who identify as LGBT+
Call : 0300 688 0368 (All calls charged at local rate)