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How to Help your Family Understand your Trans/Nonbinary Identity

by Emil Tinkler

Mother’s Day just passed. It is no secret that many trans and nonbinary individuals have a rocky relationship with their mothers and other parental or family figures. Things like Mother’s Day can bring you down, especially if you are struggling to get your family to accept who you are and respect your pronouns and your name. Sometimes it can be impossible to see a future where your mother calls you by the right name and uses the correct pronouns for you. But it is not always impossible, and this is coming from someone who used to feel that way too.

It’s not easy. It hurt for a long time and it took a lot of work to teach my mom to understand and respect me for who I am. I was very lucky that my mother was never opposed to my being trans — she just struggled for years to use my name and pronouns. It took around 4 years, but we got there. No matter how dark thing seem with time there is always a chance for your own family members to come around as well. To help with this below I will list resources for your family members that may help them understand your experiences a little better and set them on the right path to respecting your name and pronouns. (If your parents are Homophobic or Transphobic, I would not recommend doing this. You know your own family better than I do so stay safe when bringing up topics such as this with family)

Introduce them to Trans Youtubers:

There are many transgender youtubers and trans resources on YouTube that you can use. In my own personal experience, a lot of my own mom’s issues came from a fear that I would become a “different person” when I transitioned without really understanding what transitioning does.

Of course, if you do not plan physically transition, you can skip this if you would like. But showing your mom or other family members transgender people who are finally happy because they are themselves can help decrease their fear. I would recommend Riley J. Dennis for transfeminine people, Jammidodger for transmasculine people, and Ash Hardell for my nonbinary peeps.

Before jumping into the world of LGBTQ YouTubers, I must issue a warning that while there are amazing resources on this platform there are also members of our community who do nothing but spread transphobia and misinformation. Blair White and Kalvin Garrah are both creators I would steer clear of as lot of their content can be very violently transphobic and could be triggering to some people.

Talk to your Mom or other family members about joining trans-parenting Facebook pages:

Facebook has a group for everything, and they have a group for this too. It was a lot easier for my mom to understand my needs as a trans person after speaking with the parents of other trans youth. My partner’s mom is an amazing trans ally who has helped my mother grow tremendously. Not everyone has that though, which is why I recommend Facebook groups. It is a great way for you parents to get connected to others who can help to educate them.

The Facebook group my partner’s mother is a part of is called PTC-Parents of Transgender Children and would be a great starting point.

Be open with them:

In my experience, your family might be genuinely confused and are not trying to be outwardly transphobic — they really just don’t understand anything about the trans community. If it is safe for you to do so talk to them regularly. Tell them how you feel, explain how their actions make you feel, just try to be as open as you can if you are able. It’s not always going to be easy. I’ve had many talks that wound up with both my mom and I crying in frustration. It took time and a lot of talking about emotions but I think that all those talks with my mom helped open her up to the above resources because even if she was confused and at the time and believed she could never call me by any name other than my deadname she did come around because she wanted me to be happy.

Having families who constantly deadname and misgender you is exhausting. It is a struggle and it unfortunately can be a very long struggle. But it is not one that can’t be overcome. I won’t lie and say that everyone’s parents and families will come around in the end some will never be able to accept you for who you are. I only really see my parents anymore because 99% of the rest of my family refuses to respect my identity. But time and education can heal many wounds and change many minds. The above resources may or may not help but I hope that they might be able to help your mothers and families as it helped mine.

About the Author:

Emil Tinkler is a 21 year old college student living in Central Florida. They are a gay agender person. Emil is a psychology major and a humanities minor. They want to be a therapist one day and help trans kids access medical care, and they love Harry Potter, Bad Suns, and LGBTQ activism. Emil was Vice President of the LGBTQ group on their campus for a year, and will continue to keep activism close to their heart in everything they do.

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