Coming out to conservative parents

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Valentyne, Jan 24, 2015.

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  1. So I don't know if I'm actually known enough around here for my username change to have been noticed except by the people in the RPs I'm in, but I'll cut to the point here because it's relevant to the actual topic: I'm a transgender lesbian. Great, I've realized myself, finally slogging my way out the depression that's been plaguing me for three years! Except, not really. See, while I feel great about finally coming to terms with this, my parents...won't exactly feel the same way. As the title says, I have conservative parents--far right fundamentalists. My mother was raised a Baptist and my father is a drug addict turned Lutheran Deacon. So, my mother's upbringing makes her not exactly open to new ideas, and my father decided he already had the right of things twenty years ago. The first thing I would expect from them would be astonishment and then a lecture on how I'm "wrong" about my identity. The thing is, my cousin is transgender. And they treat her like shit. To the point of using masculine pronouns in her presence, even after her surgery. So I got a little preview of their reäction. While I know they won't disown me or anything, the best I can hope for is a tame "oh, that's not really how you feel" and then nothing changes. Biblically, the evidence is on my side (but I'm not getting into that argument) and I could perhaps use that to sway them, but it would take months. I know even if I don't tell them now I will after I move out (because I'm moving to a more accepting state and going through hormone therapy, reässignment surgery, and so on as soon as possible), but that's over two years away, and it'll be torture being repressed that long.

    So, I'm asking if any of you have helpful advice about or experience with coming out to conservative parents, because I could really use a spot of hope right now.
  2. First: I'd like to congratulate you on finding your identity. <3 Though I'm a cisgender lesbian, and thus can't really relate to the struggles of trans folks, I know the strange relief of finally coming to terms with who you are. It's difficult and kind of harrowing, but the little bit of relief there can be empowering.

    Onto the advice:
    You are definitely in a tricky situation. Though you mention that you don't believe your parents would disown you, from the little blue star next to your avatar, I'm going to assume that you're still a teenager and thus still reliant on your parents financially. That's always something to consider. I hear devastating stories of LGBT youth coming out to conservative parents that they are still reliant on, and being kicked out with no food, shelter or money on the horizon. I've heard others give the advice to wait on coming out until you are self-sufficient, though that's not always a possibility. How old were you when your cousin came out as transgender? Do you remember how your parents reacted to her? Though they (grossly) treat her horribly now, do they still consider her part of your family... ?

    Also, how have they reacted to LGBT news in the media? Like, what kind of comments do they make (if any)? That's definitely a way to gauge their potential reaction, though it's always hard to say for sure, especially since you're their child and not a stranger.
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  3. Yes; I'm fifteen.
    This is a possibility, but it would also be horrible. I feel like I'd rather face the consequences now than wait, honestly.
    I was very young, so I don't remember their exact reäction, but yes, they do at least still consider her part of the family. Hence why I don't think they'd do anything drastic if I told them--they don't like my cousin and it shows, but they do still care for her, and she's just a niece, not their child.
    They avoid news in general (at least on any platform I could see their reäction; for all I know my father spends all day on his laptop looking at news stories when he's holed up in his study), but when something LGBT related comes up on, say, a show we're watching, they usually reäct with disgust. One of the recent episodes of Person of Interest (the only show both my father and I follow anymore, so we sit down and watch it together when it comes on) had the flirty lesbian couple finally actually getting together (after almost two seasons of shipteasing, heh), and my father was about to skip over the scene if it hadn't been over quickly, with the remark "Could have done without that."
    So nothing extreme, I suppose, but it's clear they try to avoid it. Which is why I'm still not that sure.
  4. Before I say anything else, I'm glad you've figured out who you are. It's a right pain to have to go through, but it's worth it in the end.

    Now, all I can really say, based on what you've previously said, is that you should consider things very carefully. If you have the possibility, you could wait until you're out of their house and can care for yourself, without relying on them. It's going to sound harsh and blunt, but I wouldn't risk it.

    Not going to go in on all the details (sort of stealth-ish at the moment), but after two years (and figuring things out for years before that), I still haven't come out anywhere but on the internet, and I'm 20. My situation isn't nearly as bad as yours, but I'd rather be on the safe side than find myself with no place to go and no money. A friend of mine is going through roughly the same thing as you, and he has very conservative parents. It's a tough period to go through. It's stressful and scary and exhausting, and I say that from personal experience.

    My point is, only you can decide what you want to do. If you think you can talk some sense in them, try to do that. You wouldn't have to come out or anything, just try to educate them and watch their response carefully. If you feel that you have to come out, not because of peer pressure, but because YOU feel that you have to, do so. And if you feel that you can wait, and that your mental health won't suffer, you can do that. But please, do think about your own safety and how this might affect you in the long run. Think about yourself, first and foremost, and never ever do something because other people want you to do it. This is about you, your identity, your health, your safety, and your life.

    This is really all I can ever suggest to people who go through this. Nobody can judge their situations like they can, and in the end it's about them, not what some stranger on the internet thinks.
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  5. This is what it really comes down to in the end. You know what kind of negative reactions you're likely to face. If in the face of that you feel that you'd rather face their scorn than keep it hidden, then hold on to that conviction and tell them soon. Aside from that, I do have some advice. I'm not trans or gay myself, but I've had a lot of friends and some family go through this sort of things, so I've learned some stuff that might help you out a bit.

    First you might want to try telling any friends or family you have that you are reasonably sure will be accepting of your identity. If you're close at all to your transgender cousin, they seem like a nice potential person to come out to before you move on to your parents. The reason I suggest this is because having people you know are supportive of you can make the harsh negativity from others less awful, because you can turn to those supportive people for help in getting through it.

    When you tell your parents, don't make the mistake some people do of telling them in some public place to try to minimize how over the top their negative reactions can be. From what I've seen and heard, this just tends to make them more pissed off that they were put on the spot like that, so they have some extra anger simmering in their heads just waiting until they can unleash it on you. That makes for bad times. Do it in private with just them, maybe even one of them alone first and then tell the other shortly thereafter. Whatever seems more comfortable to you.

    Also, avoid any kind of heated arguments or justifications. Don't try to use Bible quotes to justify you being who you are. Justification is a tactic of the guilty, don't use it. Try not to get angry at whatever nonsense they say either; you know they've lived their whole lives entrenched in their biases, and they can't exactly help the fact that they were raised religious in a time when anti-homosexual bigotry was totally socially acceptable. They won't change their views just because you yell at them that they're wrong, so don't bother with that. Just stay calm and lay out the facts for them. If they try to say you're wrong or broken or any such nonsense, calmly say that you respectfully disagree, that you know who you are and this is the truth of it. It's really hard for people to keep raging and carrying on in the face for someone who's being calm and rational, so being calm and rational is your best defense against any anger they might display. Dealing with their other unfortunate reactions, like disgust and such, will be harder, but you're got to remain a rock in the face of their river of bullshit. You know who you are, you know there's nothing wrong with you, and nothing they say will change that. Just keep a cool head and things ought to turn out as well as they possibly can.
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  6. There's a very awful and very crude aspect to this situation, and as much as I hate to admit to the bit of pessimism I allow myself, I've seen too many dear friends in my life go down in flames, and I don't want to hear next month that you've been hurt, too. Please take my harshness as a cautionary note born of emotional and not rational thought.

    The demographic we're talking about is not stereotypically but in fact fundamentally stubborn, and will not yield to logic, will not yield to empathy, and certainly will not have a "homosexual transgender" child telling them how it's going to be. They will do everything in their power to change you, and they will pull every string to make your life miserable until you surrender yourself to their worldview. They will find every means to isolate you from those who accept you, and will jump on any opportunity to remind you that you're just an ignorant little boy who has no idea what the real world is like. They will do far worse than punish you, far worse than deny your identity, and far worse than ruin what little opportunity is left for people your age to thrive in this strange society. They will keep shoving your square visage through a round hole until it fits, even if it means bloodying the corners several times over.

    *Deep breath* . . .

    I do not believe somebody your age should involve their parents in their identity knowing full well the result will be nothing but negative. It's more often I've seen that they will cause you to doubt and loathe yourself, to be doubted and loathed by your family, than you are to feel relieved and liberated. They have far too much control over everything that you are and will be, whether you accept it or not, and if they wish it, you will be domineered into submission.

    *Another deep breath* . . .

    I hope that if you choose to reveal this part of yourself to them that they are not nearly as closed-minded as those I have had the displeasure of encountering in the past; for your sake, I hope at the very least that they are able to compartmentalize their relationship with you from your identity — in that case, at least, as much as they don't like this part of you they will not allow their child to be sent into the adult world stunted over something as unrelated and insignificant in comparison as whether you want to be called "He" or "She", or who you'd like to relate with in ten or twenty years.
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  7. I can say little of this, as my experience is extremely limited. I've only a handful of homosexual male friends and one lesbian female; one friend who underwent operations to change his sex to female through gene therapy or something of the sort. While myself being a straight male. My views on sexuality are a bit skewed, but the only advice I can offer is to gut up and express yourself the best you can toward your parents. Those friends of mine found themselves estranged from their parents when revealing their sexual identities, in most of those cases to my understanding, the parents weren't happy at first but in the end, you are their child no matter what. Your mother nurtured you in the womb and your parents both took a great deal of effort to raise you the best they could. I can only hope they see reason and if anything at the very minimal, they tolerate and accept your choices for what they are.

    Good luck, don't let the stress overcome your needs to become who you are.
  8. To come out or not is up to you. Either path carries it's fair share of risks and con's and I do not feel comfortable telling you to do one thing or the other. Regardless, I do wish you the best. Should you choose to come out to your parents, most advice I'd give has already been mentioned. I want to add though, you should try to see if you can find some people you're sure who can give you a physical space you can retreat to. At least temporarily. A friend's house with more liberal parents perhaps. Family members who might be more accepting. Your realisation is rather recent, which I assume means your identity is still a vulnerable subject. Having a place where you're accepted will help you come to terms with whatever situation unfolds better than staying in a negative environment.
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  9. I can only really repeat what some of the others here have said.
    To tell your parents at this stage of your life is risky, especially if they're the Homophobic/Trans-phobic kind of parents.
    Especially since you live with them and rely on them, because that means they can easily cut you off of support.
    It might also mean they are more angry at you than your cousin, you're there own child, they live and see everyday. That could cause them to build up much more anger than a niece they only see once in a while.

    So ultimately if you asked me I'd suggest not saying anything until you move out.
    It might suck, but it's what makes sure you aren't put in any danger, physically, mentally or financially.
    Once you move out you should be able to tell them with far less risk. Though I would confide with your cousin in the meantime, having someone to talk to can help a lot.

    But if you do ultimately decide to tell your Parents now I would advise following Jorick's advise on doing so, if you are going to tell them that seems like the smartest and safest way to do it.
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  10. Your parents may surprise you. I know this is not even remotely close to your situation, but my mom surprised me. I was raised by an upper middle conservative white Republican mother (I know saying she was white is rather redundant). I am a white male. My partner of choice are black women. I was so worried for her to meet any of my girlfriends growing up. When I finally introduced a girlfriend to my mother her only concern was weather or not she treated me right. She didn't even care about the color.
    Be honest with your parents, they may surprise you.
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  11. Well, since we're all exchanging our own 'experiences', I'll share mine.

    I would say for you to get advice from your cousin on how to deal with the backlash, and then for you to come clean to your parents. Just remember, once you tell them however, you have to commit to it. There isn't any 'going back' per say. Your parents might surprise you, or they might not. I personally prefer to deal with those type of issues head on, but that is how I am.

    It was pretty tough for me to tell my mom last month that I want to enlist after high school instead of go to college. It was tougher since she's been saving money for me to attend college since I was born and I had already gotten accepted to several prestigious universities within my state. My mom was a Marine, but she always wanted me to strive for something beyond than using myself as target practice for terrorists.

    Ever since I was a child however I have always wanted to grow up and be a soldier. I know of the repercussions I may face such as loss of limb or life, but I always chase my dreams until I catch them. Surprisingly though, my mom begrudgingly accepted my decision and only asked for me to think about it for a little longer, just to make sure it's really what I want to do. She wants me to weigh the pros and cons and make sure it was something that I want to do.

    I'm honestly not too good with identity pronouns, and I blame that on my Southern upbringing in a sheltered community. I don't think it matters though whether you're a guy or girl, black or blue, or whatever; but if you want something you have to take it. You can't blame anyone other than yourself if you're living a life that you don't find fulfilling.
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  12. Talk to your cousin. Talk to your cousin at length about this stuff: everything from prescription side-effects to the red tape involved in actually *getting* medicines, to finding work while publicly trans, to just being out in public or having your own place and everything involved with that. I don't like jumping on the "you are a child" bandwagon, but I still remember how much I dreaded telling my mum why she wouldn't be getting any grandchildren from me. Hooray for baptist parents, eh?

    I don't remember when news got out that a cousin of mine was intersex, but it was after I'd turned twelve. The family used to have me hang out with her regularly because she didn't have very many friends, but after her intersex condition came to light my part of the family just stopped mentioning her. I didn't pay much attention to it because we weren't very close (from my perspective; if somebody asked her she'd say we were really close), but we compared our respective teenage years and it often looked like we had parallel lives.

    I hadn't figured out my own situation until just before my 21st birthday, and I was still sort of living with family except I was the one paying most of the bills while nobody else in the household had a job. I can honestly say it was the worst time of my life, because I had to keep a certain type of 'face' on at all times. The birthday itself was the breaking point, because everyone in the house made it clear that I was being used as a source of income and nothing more. Sure, I got to hear from everyone how much they love me and worry about me and want me to do well in life, constantly, but I've never believed love to be anything more than an emotion people use to manipulated others.

    Telling Vs. Not Telling

    Telling runs the risk of being tossed out onto the street. Up until I stopped caring about whether the family would have anything to do with me, I kept silent about everything. Nobody but the internet knew anything more than "Fyrra likes to shut herself in her room and play video games all the time when she's not working," and I was fine with that because what everyone didn't know couldn't come bite me in the arse later. I didn't really have friends in person because I was shy back then, and being in The South, I didn't quite have access to people I knew would be accepting. Between the If you turn gay we'll shoot you "jokes" and the constant urge from family members to find somebody to be romantic with so they could have grandchildren, I wouldn't trust them with anything, especially after that one time I brought a slightly overweight nerdy-looking girl home and the instant she was out of the house I was begged not to start dating her.

    Contradictory things all over the place. Not telling the family why they needed to stay out of my personal life was an endless source of headaches. There was always pressure from both parents to start dating, the constant proddings over why I was so "secretive" and "why don't you trust us about things that are important to you?" and "you aren't falling in with a bad crowd are you? Because that would be bad." That said, I had nowhere else to go but to other members of the family, because any support network I could have developed back then would have only included other dependent-on-others-for-a-home people.

    So yeah, eventually I did the "Hay mom I'm not who you think I am" thing. It was every bit as dramatic and emotional and stupid as you can imagine it was. The "tell your parents because they might surprise you" thing is good, especially if you're lucky enough to have parents who aren't homophobic, and even if you don't you still get that massive burden lifted off of you, but there's more to it than that. I'm not going to claim I know your parents, but I know your situation really well. If your parents are anything like mine, repeating the "god is love" line and saying "we still love you and we want what's best for you" crap, and you want to tell them just to get it over with, there are some things you should prepare for in advance.

    1) Always, always, always have a backup plan. In this case, this means "another place to live where they can't interfere." I've got a trans friend who got put into a pray-the-gay-away therapy camp, which I'll consider one of the two worst-case scenarios, with the other being "kicked out onto the street because no son of mine is gonna be a girly queer." They didn't happen with me personally, because I was twenty-one when I came out to the maternal unit and the moment somebody started giving me shit, I packed everything I could after work one morning and moved into a flat I'd leased out.

    2) You know this is going to happen, but they are going to pressure you to think that this is just a phase. To them, the gender identity thing is a lot like losing somebody they know and claim to love and having that person replaced with a stranger. The five stages of loss are denial, anger, bargaining, sorrow, and acceptance, and in this case you might never see them reach the last step. Even if you manage to convince them to get you into counseling (often a first step toward acquiring meds for this), they are going to ask you questions and try to milk you for information so they can groom you to see things their way, because parents don't recognize what "patient confidentiality" means when it comes to their own children. They want to know everything, and they will try to pressure for a christian counselor because that is the type of person most likely to mirror their own views on controversial subjects like this one.

    3) Be prepared to fight, every step of the way. "I just want to know what's really going on here" is as innocent a way for a casual, friendly conversation to snowball into an argument. All the diagrams and science in the world won't save you from that, and it probably won't grant you any victories, but if you want to press your ground, be sure to have explanations ready for "How can you want a sexchange if you don't even like guys," "how do you know this isn't just a phase," "are you going to chop it off" and possibly "How can you call yourself female if you don't want to have that chopped off" if it applies to you, followed by "But you aren't girly at all! I've known you all your life so I know you inside out!" And then it'll turn into "So where are you going to get the money for all this?" and "You should get a career going before you start this, that way you can be rich and have money to fall back on" which really just means "I want you to put this off for a while and think on it a little longer," which is an arguing point that will never be satisfied because "I want you to think on it a little longer" is an argument people have on vasectomies and tubal ligations. "What if you want to have kids someday" has a similar stalling technique, and at the end of it all, it won't matter because a sufficient enough amount of time will never pass.

    Have answers for those questions, especially if somebody starts telling you "you don't want to be a woman because ________." At that point, you can at least be smug and tell them at least you won't have to worry about periods.

    You're in for a hell of a trip, regardless of how you go about this. Either way, if you need somebody to blow off steam to, just send a message. I know I'm late with this message, and there's really no right answer, but I'll do what I can to help. After all, it was people on the internet who helped me when I had nobody else~

    I still have to call my mum and talk to her *again* about calling me by the wrong name. It's been five @#%&ing years since I started this mess, and I've been moments away from just burning the bridge through pretty much all of it. Don't listen to any of these assholes who might say it's your own fault if you end up unhappy about the way life turns out, though. There's a degree of that that depends on your own input and actions, like not getting caught up in the drug community or prostitution, but other people "telling it like it is" are just being jackasses, regardless of them claiming not to care in the long run, or how much they claim to know about "the real world." Sure, they're right to an extent about the need for thick skin because you -will- be made fun of for being different, but other people being shits isn't your fault.

    Hell, look up the name "Leelah Alcorn" and read all the stories on that, maybe try not to spend much time looking at the pictures. This is pretty much the situation we all want you to avoid.
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