Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coming Out to Parents + Resources

A couple nights ago I posted a video to my YouTube channel in which I interview my mom about what it was like for her when I came out as trans. I thought perhaps it would be helpful to those who are struggling with how to come out to their parents, or for parents who are struggling with the multitude of feelings they are experiencing after their child has just come out to them.

My mom is quite uncomfortable in front of the camera, but she has a great message and I am really glad she agreed to film this video with me. We are a close family and my parents (especially my mom) had a rough time when I first started transitioning. Though it was extremely difficult in the beginning stages of my transition, in the six plus years I have been on testosterone they have come a long way.

My parents are amazing people and I am not only really proud of them, I am grateful for them as well.

Here is the link to PFLAG and the Parents of FTM Transsexuals Yahoo group that I mentioned in the video.

PFLAG is a great resource because it has local chapters scattered throughout the United States and parents can take comfort in the fact that they are not alone in this experience. PFLAG's transgender page has a lot of great information and resources too.

A question I am often asked is how I came out to my parents. There are many ways to come out - in person, over the phone, in an e-mail, or a letter. I came out to my parents in person, but I wrote letters to the rest of my family. The trans coming out conversation was hard enough to have with my parents, so for my large extended family I wrote letters; having that conversation over and over starts to get emotionally wearing.

A letter can often be a good method to use (even with parents) because it allows them time to think about what was said in the letter and unlike a face-to-face conversation or telephone call, there is no chance for the exchange of harsh words or for things to get out of hand - it allows time to process. After all, you have probably thought about the trans thing as long as you can remember, but they just heard about it and are probably entirely overwhelmed. Giving them space and allowing them time to process also means they might do some research for themselves and come into the "follow up" conversation more informed.

Here are a few other videos about coming out from 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Coming Out and Family (April 2008)

Don't Hesitate: Coming Out to Family (March 2009)

My parents and I took a long time to get where we are today - we did it with continuous, open communication, a fierce perseverance, and unconditional love. There are going to be a lot of rough moments, but there will be a lot of beautiful ones, too; it just takes time. Persevere.

Resources for Parents of Transgender Children: 

Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) TYFA is a wonderful organization and resource with a special section for parents of transgender children called “TransParent Journeys” with a list of parents' blogs and family stories.

TransActive is a non profit organization that serves the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming children and their families. TransKids Purple Rainbow is an organization founded by the father of a young transgender girl that is dedicated to empowering trans youth and their families and educates peers, governmental and religious institutions as well as school and medical communities on trans youth.

Parents of Transgender Kids Facebook 

For even more FTM and SOFFA mailing lists, check out the “Finding Community” page on Transguys.com.

If your parents are readers, a great book to send their way is “True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism: For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals” by Mildred Brown and Chloe Rounsley. Though it was written back in 1996, it still remains a relevant resource and one of the better books written about transsexualism for SOFFAs.

You can also download “Our Trans Children” (5th edition) from the PFLAG website for free. [pdf file]

If you have any questions or you'd like to talk more directly, shoot me an e-mail at charliewarhol@gmail.com, or you can connect with me on Facebook

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