Is It Bad That I Don’t Want to Come Out Until After Christmas?
I just want one last holiday season where everyone in my family respects me.
Even before 2020, when real-life holiday gatherings became actual death sentences, this time of year could be rough for just about anyone. The happiest of families can still face some tension when members of all ages are all together at one table.
Holiday dinners have always been awful for me, even before I knew I was queer. I was routinely asked whether I had a boyfriend, and if I did, whether he lived up to my dad’s parents’ rigid, old-fashioned standards of how a gentleman should behave. I was also asked to comment on recent absurd trends that my grandparents had seen teenagers do in the news, even after I was no longer a teenager.
But that was nothing compared to how alienated I felt after realizing I wasn’t a heterosexual, cisgender girl.
After high school, I stopped dating boys for a few years. I think my grandparents got worried for a minute there. Their only daughter (my aunt) is a lesbian, and it took them years and years to begrudgingly accept her. Maybe they were worried I’d turn out to be gay too.
Then, a few weeks before Thanksgiving 2019, I started dating my partner. I thought she was a guy at first, but she soon revealed to me that she was a trans girl.
She hadn’t medically transitioned yet. In fact, she was only out to me and a few of her friends. To most people, she just looked like a “guy” with long hair. But she really wanted to meet my family, so she didn’t mind being introduced to them as my “boyfriend.”
The rest of my family was ecstatic that I was bringing home a “man” for Thanksgiving, something I hadn’t done since high school. My dad’s parents seemed particularly happy. Not only that, but everyone seemed to genuinely like my partner, certainly more than they had liked my high school sweetheart.
It just felt awful knowing that the person they all liked didn’t actually exist. I knew that if my partner showed her true self, many of my family members would no longer wish to associate with her.
That’s why I’m also hesitant to come out as trans to them.
At the time of this writing, the only people I’m out to in real life, besides my partner, are two of my closest friends. Fortunately, they took the news very well. I was overjoyed that they accepted me, although I’d suspected they would.
Even when you’re absolutely sure that someone will support you, it’s still nerve-wracking to come out to them. Even if someone says they’ll love you unconditionally, coming out to them will put that to the test. There’s always a chance that they’ll reject you for revealing who you truly are.
There’s no question that certain folks in my family, like most of my dad’s side, would refuse to accept me if I came out as trans. But I’m still terrified of coming out to even the more tolerant people in my family, like my mom’s side, my parents, and my two siblings.
I’m lucky that my younger brother and sister are very accepting of queer identities. And my parents are about as left-leaning as Gen X-ers come. We’ve had conversations about trans rights before. In fact, my girlfriend came out to my immediate family earlier this year. So far, none of them have messed up the switch to her new name and pronouns.
But all of that changes when I imagine myself coming out to them.
My parents have always known me as their eldest daughter. My siblings grew up seeing me as their big sister. Coming out as transmasculine would change their whole view of me as a person.
I’ve read stories by parents of trans kids who, although they accept their child’s identity, also experience a kind of grief over the loss of the child they thought they knew. On some level, I can understand that. But I’m worried that my parents would go through the same thing. I don’t want them to feel sad that they’re losing a daughter; I want them to feel happy that they’re gaining a son.
But I know that I’m going to have to tell them, along with everyone in my family, eventually. At some point, I plan on starting HRT and getting top surgery. The results of those treatments aren’t exactly easy to hide.
Plus, seeing my old name on all of my social media accounts has been bothering me more and more lately. Seeing a picture of myself next to a feminine name makes me increasingly dysphoric.
I plan on officially announcing my transition and changing my name on these sites, but I can’t do it just yet. Many of my less-than-tolerant family members are friends with me on Facebook. Telling them I’m trans would be one thing; having them find out through a Facebook post would be absolutely awful.
It’s bad enough that they know we don’t agree politically. About a month ago, I posted a status update that was essentially a shortened version of this story but without explicitly outing myself as being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Basically, I talked about how I simply can’t be friends with someone who sees basic human rights for certain groups of people as a minor political issue.
A conservative family member left this comment: “Wow. Ouch. Doesn’t sound very tolerant from someone who supposedly espouses tolerance.”
I didn’t even want to acknowledge that with a response.
It let me know that these people don’t genuinely care for LGBTQ+ folks. Well, they might tolerate the L and the G, but they probably think the B doesn’t exist and the T, along with the rest of the letters in the acronym, is a mental disorder.
So much for family members loving me unconditionally.
All that to say, I plan on waiting until Christmas is over to come out to anyone in my family. I just want one last holiday season (even if it’s virtual) where my family will show me love and respect (well, some of them might not respect me anymore after that Facebook post) before I ruin everything by being myself.
After I come out, I get the feeling that many of my family members will never want to speak to me again. And for the most part, I’m fine with that.
I just want to cherish this last Christmas with them, even if the version of me that they love doesn’t really exist.