This past weekend I came out to my parents that I’m a transgender person. It was harder than I imagined and also a lot stranger. My Mom took it calmly at first but was a bit shook up afterwards. Meanwhile my Dad didn’t seem to understand exactly what I was saying and I can’t say he truly accepted my identity. But either way I am coming out to more people each day and becoming more comfortable with it each day.
I first told my Mom that I am transgendered. She went into counsellor mode and tried to ask questions and hear what it meant and how it affected me. I ended up also telling her that I was suicidal and depressed which I think freaked her out as much or more than the fact that I’m trans. She also asked the question I’ve received most often, am I going to become a woman? I’ve started to use question to jump into explaining what transgender and transsexual, since they are very different but similar seeming identities.
After she freaked out and then calmed back down, I cried a little (especially about the suicide depression stuff) and then she asked if I was going to tell my father. I hadn’t really gotten that far and told her just that. She told me it was going to be hard for her to keep this a secret for long since it was such a big thing to her. This freaked me out and made me realize how huge this actually was. She volunteered to talk to him first and bring up the subject before I went into it in more detail.
The following day my mom talked to my dad and tried to explain my identity. I went upstairs and tried to figure out what to say to him. After reading a few accounts of what to do when coming out to parents I was very freaked out. Then I heard my Dad looking for me and came downstairs. He said he wanted to talk to me, saying, “We’re talking about you so you should probably be hear for it.”
The conversation with my dad was hard. He didn’t seem to understand me identifying as being a transgender person. Instead he said I should do what I want and be who I want rather than choosing an identity and then becoming that. I agreed to an extent with that but tried to explain that I wasn’t doing that instead I was trying to be myself and that I am a transgendered person.
He kept asking how being transgendered would affect me behaviorally. This was a question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer as the most important part to me was the internal part rather than the external, behaviorally part. He explained to me that he does more feminine things like cooking (he was the main cook in our house growing up and continues to be). He said he doesn’t identify as a manly man or even a man, instead he identifies as himself.
I wasn’t sure where to go with this, should I explain patriarchy? Should I remind him he asked me what the hell was going on with my feet (I had nail polish on)? Should I try to explain that is what I’ve been trying to do but have been held back by everyone. I tried out the last one the best I could. I can’t say I fully got my point across but I did my best considering he’s never heard about trans anything. His whole argument was strange, it felt as though he was being post-modern in his critique, saying that I shouldn’t identify as something and then become it but I should become what I am.
Luckily despite the frustration and inability to get my point across at times the conversation was very well intentioned. The vast majority of people are not cisgendered white men, even though that is the default. My Dad doesn’t realize that this fact holds everyone else back from being themselves instead of a stereotype or put in a box they don’t want to be in.
I came out to my parents and more or less got their support. It was a hard and emotionally taxing experience but it was accomplished and now I am out to more people and feel free to be who I am without any shame. I’m sure I’ll be having more of these conversations, probably more just with my Dad. But it’s all moving forward to being the person I am. And thanks to all the motivating, supportive and inspiring people I know and I see all over the internet. Special thank you to Nitzan who inspired me to begin photographing myself as how I want to be seen and how I see myself. I found him through a documentary about his transition called Song of a Wanderer currently on kickstarter.