Coming out experiences vary greatly. Some parents will be encouraging from the start. They may have suspected all along that their son or daughter is gay or transgender, and become use 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 or correct 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” by Brill can be extremely helpful for parents who don’t know very much about transgender youth. 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 Transitioning Families (www.transitioningfamilies.org) are just a couple of these websites and organizations. Ask your parents to get you or the family a therapist as well, preferably a therapist who specializes in transgender issues and has experience working with transgender youth. Finally, there are many support groups for transgender youth and their parents across the country. ( and at TYEF in Portland Maine,both for youth and their families) 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. TYEF can help you find one in your region!
We want your coming out experience to be as positive as possible. If you feel it is simply not safe to tell your parents perhaps an older sibling, trusted family member, friend or counselor should be present. Always remember that all of us at TYEF are here for you. We will certainly support you through this process. We can discuss this with your parents to help them understand better. Don’tbe shy to call or text us anytime. 207-478-4087 and leave a message with your name and contact. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s always smart to reach out! Take good care of yourself by knowing when to reach out to adults who can support you!
p.s. If it's holiday time. When coming out ask your parents if you can talk over the holiday plans. Be honest about your feelings and how deep they are. Let them know if you feel pressured or down about the anticipation of coming out to your family and friends. Some families will write a letter or private FB message to all people they are sharing the holiday with. For example they can say they are supporting you by using the right pronouns and name and a brief description of what transgender and transition means. They often state that they would like to ask everyone else to please support you in these ways and to be respectful so you can also feel safe and calm and look forward to your holiday. Preparing relatives and asking for respect is better then just appearing as the transitioned you as never before! lol We welcome hearing about what has worked for you.
Big hugs to all supportive families!!!!! written by a TYEF youth intern and the staff!