Question: Coming out, meeting resistance.

Alexander asks…

How should I come out to my mum? She has made it clear that the one thing she will not accept from me is being trans. I need her to know, as it is affecting how my friends have to behave around her. Talking to her would lead to an argument, and she sees letters as evasive and sneaky. What should I do?

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Posted by on July 5th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions | Tags: , , 16 comments »

16 Responses to “Question: Coming out, meeting resistance.”

  1. Meike

    That’s an incredibly hard question to answer, since every parent and every situation is different. How do you typically present yourself around her? You could use a discussion on that as a springboard into the topic of transexuality. But at any rate, are you coming out for yourself, or are you doing it for the benefit of your friends? Because it’s very important that you do it for yourself, as something YOU need. And if this is something you need to do for yourself, you need to explain to your mom somehow what specifically you need from her. Maybe she won’t accept you being trans, but can she tolerate you being trans? What about you being trans will she not accept?

    But how to actually come out to her…again, in your situation that’s a tricky thing. Maybe write out what you want to say to help you, and in a worse-case scenario you can use that as a letter to her. But you could ask her to listen to you without interrupting, and if she has questions afterwards you’ll answer them. You could even prepare answers for questions she might come up with. What’s most important is that she’s aware that, in the end, this is your life and not hers. She can accept it if she wants, but ultimately you are what she has for a child, regardless of how you identify, and she should love you as such.

    I hope that helped, and good luck with everything!


  2. Rusty

    I would suggest making plans, like movies or something. Then write a letter detailing how you feel and why this is important to you. Confront your mom before you leave, give her the letter and tell her it is easier to explain your feelings this way and you want to give her some time to think about it. Then go out with your friends and give her a few hours. When you come back she might want to have a conversation or she might be angry or whatever. But at least you can get what you want to on the table without being interrupted or judged.
    I’m sure your mom loves you and just needs to better understand. If not, just come to grips with the fact that you cannot receive that kind of acceptance from that one person and try to move on.


  3. AJ

    Are you financially dependent on her still? A friend of mine came out to her parents and now they’re refusing to pay for her college. If you feel you must come out, you should, but be aware of things like finances, and maybe have a plan B, in case things go sour.


  4. Danny

    I think, unfortunately, there are some times when it’s better not to come out to people, even though that obviously sucks. I can’t really tell what the stakes are for telling or not telling your mum in this case are–I just don’t know enough about the situation.

    It sounds like talking would be better than a letter, but maybe it would be even better to have someone else talk to your mum for you or with you.


  5. Cat

    I think you ought to look at some other examples of people in your same situation—the TransGeneration documentary is wonderful (all the episodes are on YouTube—user jonesing82) and TJ on the show is in the exact same situation as you. He’s not living with his mom on the show, but he feels uncertain about starting transition since he was a foreign grad student at the time and feels torn between two worlds. The show was filmed five years ago, but he didn’t actually start transitioning until last year (and his personal vlog is on YouTube as well, user trannytrent) and he talks a lot about reconciling how he sees himself with how his mother saw him and changes she’s undergone. Best of luck to you!


  6. Jessica

    As others have written, mothers are difficult. It is dangerous to second-guess them, even when you know them. My question is how much of your anxiety is based upon her and how much on you? Sometimes the grief we feel is bigger than the grief we get.

    You and she will have an argument. Well, people do argue sometimes and it is not necessarily fatal. Is she some kind of religious fanatic or a passionate devote of Glenn Beck? If so, then you may never get through her defenses sufficiently to be honest and intimate with your own mother. And that would be a shame.

    Most mothers do love their children and their ire is usually the result of them thinking that their children are making a dangerous and hurt provoking mistake. Her extreme reaction towards your coming out is very likely rooted in her fears for you.

    Who are her confidants? Who does she trust? Are any of these people more open minded that you suspect your mother to be? Could you talk to one or more of them first? Possibly on a confidential basis and a good and dutiful son who needs advice on how to be less hurtful to his mother?

    Or maybe she’s a jerk. Some people are just awful and your mother might be one of these. In which case, small loss. Have courage in your convictions. Be strong, be honest and be caring.


  7. Anonymous

    “she sees letters as evasive and sneaky”

    You shouldn’t let your mother’s definition of what letters are influence your choice of how you come out.

    In many situations, writing letters (or emails) is a way to address power relationships – allowing people who are shy to express themselves ; making it possible to say something long to someone who would otherwise interrupt you ; deal with the fear of being dismissed or shouted at. Because of this, people in position of power do not like this method, and find way of dismissing it.

    I am not saying this is the case with your mother – I obviously cannot know – but you should think about why she doesn’t like letters, and decide for yourself whether that is a good method or not.


  8. Meike

    I would like to agree heartily with this last comment. If your mother is likely to interrupt you or start an argument halfway through, I would suggest a letter. I ended up doing this with my twin sister, and it worked out quite well. Just make sure you follow up on the letter with even a brief discussion, just to be sure that she indeed read it and understood what you were saying to her. And maybe that way she feels less threatened by the letter, since you’re showing that you’re willing to talk with her on the issue. My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this with my sister, and I still feel like there are unresolved issues between me and her. Do follow up if you write a letter!


  9. Jessica

    But please do not write an email… My son told me of his engagement in an email. I thought it quite an insult.

    What makes the letter proponents suspect that she would actually read the whole declaration before tearing it up?

    When I write angry letters to politicians and other despicable people (see BP), I wish I had something that would cause the paper to spontaneously catch fire as they’re reading it… just for emphasis.


  10. Meike

    That’s a fairly good point–maybe stress as you’re giving it to her that no matter what the letter say, please finish it? That what you say in the letter is very important to you, and it’s important to you that she read it all the way through? Something like that, anyways.


  11. XylophoneGender

    My advice: Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are a few resources out there to help & your mum sort out your feelings & needs. Education is empowering, both for you & her. There may be a lot that she’s not yet ready to admit she doesn’t know, and a lot that scares her.

    I suggest starting with PFLAG’s transgender network, TNET (
    They’ve published 2 pamphlets for family & friends of loved ones of trans people, in addition to having some good links to other sites. The publications can be downloaded as pdfs from their site: “Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends” and “Our Trans Children”
    Even if you’re mum will never show up to a meeting with you, I’ve found that being involved with a local PFLAG chapter can help the person who is coming out immensely. You can talk to other parents, try out your ideas, see how they respond & what insight they can give about where your mum’s head might be, based on their experiences. Most chapters are in the US, but some international as well.
    Though the edition I read was horribly outed, the book “Always My Child,” written for parents of LGBT youth, has a chapter about trans youth.
    Another personal favorite is this teaching video: has a bunch of good resources as well.
    Good luck!


  12. Declan

    Just to follow up the resources that Xylophone posted, LGBT Youth Scotland also recently came out with a “coming out guide” for young people (assuming you’re young, even if not it could have some useful information). You can find it here:


  13. moon

    i am a mom.
    and have been active in the queer community for forty years. as a bi cisexual.

    been raising my adoptive son all her life.
    at three she told me she was a girl. now she is seven and living as a girl.

    even tho i have not only known but dated transwomen and still keep contact with a good friend of many years who is a transwoman but straight in sexual preference,
    it took me four years! to hear my daughters words.

    if your mother can listen all the way through, that’s great. sometimes a little at a time is good.

    hinting at the truth allows her the mind space to begin to see your reality through her eyes. gives her space to run it through her filters and begin to accept it.

    if you have already tried to tell her who you are and she has denied you your right to self-definition, then perhaps just loving yourself and forgiving her while you walk your path openly would work.

    it’s hard for us moms, even the most open minded ones.
    but in my opinion if you just be who you are without asking permission, it may provoke just the chat you two need to have.

    in the event that this chat ends up with your mother coming from a ‘power-over’ position in regard to your reality, keep anger and rebellious intonation at bay if you can, and tell her that as long as she doesn’t push you away, she can never lose you.

    we moms are afraid of losing our children to so many things.

    adulthood,(smiles, yes…we even fear our children leaving home)

    always come from a position of ‘this is who i am, i’d like you to see me…but if you can’t, i still love you…

    because another thing we moms fear losing is the love and respect of our children.

    maybe this helps you?


  14. Anonymous

    Hmm.. Jessica- what does liking Glenn Beck have to do with anything? Your blatant stereotyping of this group of people (religious, spiritual, etc.) is getting tiresome. If anyone said anything knocking Buddhism, for example, they would be lynched on this site and taken down.

    But naturally- no one does a thing when it’s about supposed Christians, and that is what’s disgusting. Just because there are some vocal people who just don’t get it, doesn’t mean everyone is like that. It’s bad enough that I can’t go into a church as who I am- but now I’m not welcome here either? Think about what you say before you say it, because I’m NOT the only Christian on this site.

    Bugger off- I’m sick of seeing every stupid comment of yours bitching in some form or another about my faith and no one doing anything about it.

    I can’t even offer advice to the OP… it just took me many years of suffering and a lot of yelling and demanding my parents listen before anything got done at all. And then I didn’t even end up transitioning, because I’m intersexed and just wanted them to get that I ID’d with my body, not some crappy gender label that I don’t even biologically fit in the first place.


  15. Anonymous

    To the Christian above – Christianity is the dominant faith in most English-speaking countries (and I’m assuming therefore that that’s where most people reading this would be based) and it’s not exactly been a force for good in LGBT+ rights over time now, has it? Lots of LGBT+ people do have issues with Christianity and those “with faith” in this community would appear, at least in my experience, to be the minority (not that victimising a minority is OK, but you know, if a lot of people in one place are against something it’s bound to come up at some point or another). Also, Jessica didn’t mention Christianity specifically in her message, only referred to “a religious fanatic,” her example may well be a Christian but they’re also well-known enough that people get what Jessica means without having to google it. You seem to be jumping the gun in your persecution mania a little there.


  16. Jessica

    Dear Anon 1,

    I am sorry that you perceive my comments as always complaining. Sometime I try and be amusing. Evidently I have displeased you. It was not my intent. If I took St. Beck’s name in vain, my apologies.

    Dear Anon II,



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