July 8, 2017
I Am Transgender: A personal guide to “Coming Out” to your parents
By Kayla Lozano
Every day, transgender people face the daunting task of coming out to their parents and loved ones.
For many, the idea of sharing their true identities with their family is difficult. The mere thought of coming out is just way too personal for them to tell anyone, because they are still trying to come to grips with who they are themselves.
In my case, I was pretty overwhelmed by my feelings of shame towards myself, because I did not approve of my true identity. On the flipside, I was also deeply concerned with my family’s feelings, and feared that I would hurt them way too much. Oh, and there is also the possibility that my family may never want anything to do with me.
So how did I come out you may ask?
Well, let’s just say, if I could do it again (come out to my parents), I would do it in a heartbeat.
You see, I never got the chance to “come out” to my family on MY terms. Instead, I chose to run, and get as far away from them as I could. I needed to find out for myself, just what it was that I was feeling. Who was I?
More importantly – Why am I this way?
Throughout my childhood, I firmly resolve that I have ALWAYS felt “this way.” For me, I was just being me.
It was an easier time for me to express my femininity, while I played dress-up, or even proclaimed that I was “Wonder Woman” whenever I played with my childhood friends (because she’s pretty AMAZING!!) However, as soon as junior high and high school rolled around – not so much. Now I was a small fish in a large pond. It was like a pond with larger fish, and even sharks (yeah, I know, it’s only a pond – just go with it). There were bullies to face, and even a few teachers who went out of their way to show that they did not approve of me.
And then there were my parents.
I come from a traditional Mexican-American family on my mother’s side, and my father’s side of the family is Caucasian. My father is not my biological father, however, he has been the man in my life who has been a real father to me, when my biological father wasn’t. Both of my parents are conservative, Catholic, educated, hard-working, and very active within their community.
And then there is me.
This is how I came out to my parents-
I came out twice – once as gay (because I thought I was gay), and then as transgender.
The first time:
I moved in with my gay boyfriend. My parents insisted I come home with them, and even came to pick me up. My parents were not pleased with my defiance, and decision to stay. I can still remember how hurt my mother and father were. I can never wipe that memory from my mind.
In hindsight, I failed to understand what THEY might be going through.
The story is that they happened to come up for a surprise visit to see how I was doing, and were surprised to find that I was knee-deep in an “alternative lifestyle.”
I went on to live as a gay male at the age of 19. For two years I severed all contact with my family. For me, I needed to discover who I was. I needed to search for the person that lived within me, without pressure, or guilt, or even sadness from my family. I was selfish.
But rightfully so!
Suppressing who a person truly is can feel like daily torture. The depression and anxiety that are tied to those feelings is debilitating. Also, there NEVER is the right time to find one’s self. It just happens. Some hope for sooner, than later – yet, some choose to wait until they are much older. It’s a personal choice. YOUR choice.
But you see, it wasn’t for me.
Remember how I said that I came out twice? And that I mentioned the story of my parents’ surprise visit?
Well, my parents came to surprise me BECAUSE they had already heard that I might be gay from someone else. I was outed. So, I retreated.
The second time, after I realized that I was not gay, but rather, Transgender – was so much more difficult.
For the first part, my parents were told about my transition, and even shown pictures of me in costume, as a drag entertainer. (I was pretty flawless!)
Twice, I had been robbed of the opportunity to “come out” on MY terms.
This was also difficult for me because I wanted to reveal myself to my loved ones as the person I saw myself as. Instead, they found out about my transition as though I was a feature story in some salacious tabloid.
That is why I say that I wish I could do it again.
So – here’s what I recommend you do if YOU feel ready to come out:
- Find a person that you can REALLY trust, that can help you (provide comfort, a safe place, a home even) in the event things do not go as you had hoped. Understand, that coming out is nothing like the movies. It CAN get ugly, and it CAN be brutal… BUT I PROMISE YOU – it does get better, and it is SO worth it!
- Be sure that you have a clear-cut plan of action and that you have thought it through and through. ALWAYS have a “plan B,” or and an “exit plan.”
- If you can, try to have a person or ally there that can support you and lift you up, during your coming out process. In other words, someone that is ACTUALLY there with you, so you are not alone. This person should be someone who can communicate effectively, and in a positive and compassionate manner (unless there is a clear need for some heavy “muscle” – then choose a person that will help you get your point across AND offer you protection from any flying dishes or pots and pans).
- IF your parents are REALLY religious or spiritual, consider seeking out a spiritual leader that is open-minded and accepting of your true identity. These people DO in fact exist. This may help for those moments when the Bible, or other religious doctrines of faith may be used against you. This person can be a voice of reason, act as a buffer, and in the end, fight fire with fire.
- Understand that there is NO right way to come out. There just is no perfect way. There is only YOUR way, and it will be EPIC! You will know when you are ready, because it will be a feeling that you can no longer contain.
Coming out can be one of those moments that you remember forever. How you come out, can also be.
Understanding what YOU want, is always important. This is not about “them,” it is about YOU. “They” have their lives already, and this one belongs to you!
However, that being said, TRY to remember that this is really difficult for them too! Yes, you might be so tired of hiding who you are, that you can no longer take it, but for them, this is new.
Time heals SOME wounds.
I say this because for many, it does not matter how much time passes. There is a possibility that you might be cut off from your family. I was. My biological father said I was dead to him. But I got over it. It took time, but I got over it, and you can too!
Try not to lose focus. Visualize the end result. Ask yourself what it is you really want and are after. Ask yourself what you are no longer willing to accept. And go for it!
Let me know how things go. Want to share your story, and/or ideas, or if you need some support, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to you! You CAN do this… I know, because I did – TWICE!
You see, it took me twenty years later to understand that my parents and family needed time to mourn the loss of someone I no longer was.