After R came out to me (and via me to Dad) we waited almost a year before telling family. I didn’t really think about it at the time and didn’t think there was a reason for that wait, now I know differently.
But let’s go back to the start.
Me and Dadofatranskid (or Dad from now on) were very close to my sister and her partner and they knew the struggles R was having and we both hinted to them that there was an issue with gender. It seemed to be received fairly well, they were shocked but that first response made me think that when we were ready to talk properly they would be fine with things. I then dropped a few subtle hints to my parents who seemed to take it relatively well.
The first ‘coming out’ to family happened in December last year. My parents, who were have all been very close to, were going away and we decided that now we were using new names and pronouns at home, were getting ready to come out at school and legally change name, that it was time to have a very open conversation. We went round as a family, and explained it all to them. Very early in the conversation my dad walked out the room and didn’t come back until it was over. We all expected shock, a period of adjustment and all sorts of other things but ultimately I wanted acceptance for R. We got home and R cried and said something about how granddad’s reaction hurt most because they were best pals when R was little. My heart was breaking for R and that night was spent comforting and reassuring them.
Once R went to bed, and for the next few days I explored their response and my feelings about it. When we had that long delay in ‘coming out’ to them I wasn’t aware of any reason but now see that subconsciously I was delayed things because I was scared. My family is working class, from a not so nice part of town and my parents grew up in a time when homophobia was not only accepted but encouraged.
I can’t remember the aftermath of all this in detail but I do know I cried, a lot, and worried, a lot. My sister’s partner also voiced his opinion that I was the one pushing this, Dad didn’t really agree and lots of other crap. Relationships suffered and my opinion of people changed drastically.
When I looked back on all this, I realised we delayed telling my family (or most of them) because we knew their prejudices and knew on some level that those prejudices would still be there. The optimistic part of me (which is pretty small) hoped that they would love R and accept whatever, but I knew that this wasn’t realistic. I also knew that in addition to hurting R, I couldn’t cope with that reaction from them (due to my own baggage and issues from childhood).
On the other side, lots of family and friends have been utterly amazing. My mother in law recently said “I don’t care if R grows two heads, they are still the same person and I love them”, and that meant everything to me but also showed the lack in some other people and their response to this.
We are now trying to repair relationships, trying to help people understand how their reaction has made R feel, and encouraging R to see their side a little. I will never push R to have contact with anyone, let alone people who hurt them, but I worry that one day R might look back and think they might have done more before giving up, and I should have encouraged them to do that ‘more’.
My world has crumbled around me in the past year and a half, my family’s world has crumbled as well, but while some things were crumbling others were getting stronger and those stronger parts more than make up for the things which crumbled.
That statement from Nana R (my mother in law) says it better than I ever can, and brings to mind something R said to me. I was trying to explain to R that I was going through a little bit of grief, and R said “but I’m the same person I always have been, you just know me better now, I haven’t changed”. That is so true, and I am so glad I know R even better now, and so glad R feels able to be open and honest with us.
Every time I have to encourage R to be the bigger person, to see others point of view, to forgive, to give another change, etc. it grates on me. Why should R have to do that? Why does my 12-year-old have to be a bigger person, more mature, more everything than the adults in their life? But I’m glad they do and are, because R is an amazing kid, who looks set to be an even more amazing adult, and without all this crap to deal with they won’t be that person.
I would never have chosen being trans for R, but I am so glad R is trans. It’s a rough journey but a wonderful one. We have met some wonderful people, being out is great for R, we’re a closer and stronger family and we know who is really in our corner.
To end on a positive, there can be horrible reactions from those closest to you, but we have had all kinds of support and concern, from family, friends, acquaintances and people we’ve just met.