Welcome to TYEF’s youth space! This section of our website is WRITTEN FOR YOUTH BY YOUTH. We have been in the some of the same situations as you, and we are here to help you in every way that we can. Being transgender and having to go through so many steps to make your body match your mind, especially if your parents are unsupportive, can be overwhelming and depressing. Many parents of transgender youth start out being not-so-supportive, and even the few that are accepting often do not know where to look for information to help their children transition. But, keep trying, many parents come around!
If you are not yet ‘out’ to your parents – meaning you have not told them that you are transgender – then coming out is likely on your mind most days. Coming out can be scary, because you can never know for sure how your parents will react or if they will understand the way you feel. It doesn’t have to be scary, though. Coming out can be made a lot easier when you have a friend on your side who supports you, or when you come out to your parents in a letter rather than in person. The one thing we can promise you about coming out is that you will feel so much better when you do. Maybe not at first, but in the long run, coming out will make your life so much easier. *please remember that since we do not personally know you, you have to be the judge of whether you are truly unsafe coming out to your parents. If you believe you are in danger, please tell a grownup that you need support. Maybe that's an older sibling, a friend, a counselor, a school person, or your pediatrician. Get support!
“I never actually came out to my parents. I came out to a close family friend of ours first – he was gay, so I knew he would accept me. I sent him an email and told him that I have always felt like a girl inside, and that I want to get surgery and everything so I can be a normal girl. He told me that he completely supported me, and that I shouldn’t be scared of coming out to my parents because they had always suspected I might be transgender since I was really little.
Later, my mom read the email when I left my computer out, and she told me that she knew all along that I might be transgender, because I used to tell her when I was little that I was supposed to be a girl, her daughter. She didn’t know very much about transgender youth back then, but she promised to accept me and help me as much as she could. That was two years ago. Now I have been on puberty blockers and hormones for more than a year, I am having surgery in less than a year, and I finally am the girl I have always needed to be.”
- a 16-year-old transgender girl
Coming out experiences vary greatly. Some parents will be encouraging from the start, like the parents of this 16 year old. They may have suspected all along that their son or daughter was gay or transgender, and gotten used to the idea over time. Other parents may be completely shocked. They could react with anger, sadness, fear, or any mix of these emotions. It is completely normal for parents not to be supportive of their child’s transition at first. Many parents go through what is called a “grieving process”; they feel they have lost their son or daughter because their child wants to transition to the other gender. In reality, their child is the same child they have had all along. Some parents take a long time to understand this.
If your parents are not totally on-board with your transition at first, there are a few things you can do to help them understand. First, ask them to read about transgender youth. Books like “The Transgender Child” can be extremely helpful for parents who don’t know very much about transgender youth. For a good list of books for your parents to read check out these: Books For Adults. You can also refer them to websites and organizations that can provide them with more knowledge as well as support from other parents in the same situation. The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (www.transyouthequality.org), and other trans organizations can help you and your parents. Ask your parents to get you a therapist as well, preferably a therapist who specializes in transgender issues and has experience working with transgender youth. Finally, there are some support groups for transgender youth and their parents across the country. If you can find one in your area, encourage your parents to go with you. You would be amazed to see some of the changes that happen in parents when they are able to discuss their concerns and fears with people who are going through the same thing.
We want your coming out experience to be as positive as possible. Always remember that all of us at TYEF are here for you. We will certainly support you through this process as we have many times. We can discuss this with your parents to help them understand better. Don’t be shy to call us anytime. Call us at 207-478-4087 and leave a message with your name and contact. It’s always smart to reach out! Take good care of yourself by knowing when to reach out to adults who can support you!