Of all the sorts of transitions and life-cycle events in life, transitioning ones’ body to fit one’s gender is perhaps still the most traumatic one for families and friends. Consider the impact on families in these examples:
- interfaith marriage with one adult child making a religious conversion
- interracial marriage-even these days, a big one for many parents or grandparents
- adoption and birth
- children leaving for college/empty nest
- gaining a son- or daughter-in-law, other in-laws
- divorce and losing in-laws
- chronic or sudden illness and incapacity
Even though these transitions are not as stigmatized as they once were, they still create stress and change. Coming out as gay or Lesbian is still hard on many families, and today, coming out and initiating transition is harder.
I’ve met grandmothers who ‘get it’ and parents who don’t, and vice- versa. This week I helped a retired woman prepare to explain to her elderly parents why she can’t come visit them anymore as their son. Yesterday a mid-20s sibling found it very hard to understand why his older sibling can’t just dress more androgynously and leave things alone. Many years ago a parent I saw could not understand why he couldn’t just introduce herself to her middle-school kids her new self without preparing them.
Each generation has a unique perspective, with values and world views shaped by its time in history and its cultural norms. Each stage of life we live in has its own developmental tasks to accomplish before more information can be easily taken in. The person ‘coming out’ must respect these facts with kindness, and good boundaries. Being sensitive does not mean being co-dependent.
On the following pages is information for parents, teens, and spouse/Significant Others. Your feedback at my blog, on this site is appreciated. Periodically I offer a one-time parents and grandparents meeting, and have yet to offer a spouses’ meeting, but will if asked.