Question: How soon is too soon?

A reader asks…

 It’s been a year since I came out to my mother, and sixth months since my friends began referring to me by my chosen name and pronouns. I start college soon, and my first year I am really interested in changing my name and developing a treatment plan. But my family made it clear that they are not ready and consider these choices out of the question.

Should I be patient? Or should I really go after the things I want?

If waiting will ease their pain, I’ll try to do it – but if they’ll hate my decisions either way, why should I drag it out?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on October 30th, 2011 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 10 comments »

10 Responses to “Question: How soon is too soon?”

  1. Arianwen

    The answer here depends upon who is paying the majority of the bills for college. If you are leaning heavily on your family to afford college right now, your long-term self-interested should be invested in putting some parts of the transition off until near the end of college. Taking this approach may seem a bit mercenary, but your college education is that which will enable you to exist on your own in the near future, and the less you rock the boat now, the less chance your family has to pull their financial support away from you prior to being ready to be fully on your own.

    Legally changing your name can wait for a while, and a treatment plan should be thought out with the assistance of a professional, which is where you should be directing your initial efforts. I would recommend that while you focus most of your energy on your college courses, something you could be doing in parallel is to seek out a therapist with whom you are comfortable, to help you map out the best way forward.

    Best of luck to you!


  2. Oliver Leon

    I’m in a similar boat. It’s been ten months since I have come out to my family. I just started university and am outspoken about my trans identity in my academic life, my social life, and in my volunteering. I don’t get my preferred name and pronouns at home. I’ve tried talking to my parents, to no avail. I’m going to send them a letter explaining more in-depth why I need to do this. I’m hoping it will help.

    I’m not sure what “out of the question” means for your family but I hope you can pursue your desires sooner rather than later. Waiting is hard and could be detrimental to your mental health. It is possible that once you start hormone therapy and (presumably) start feeling better, your family will come around once they see how much good it does you.

    Having gender discussions with family can be very difficult and heart-wrenching. I hope you have a solid support network and good coping methods at hand to help deal with that.

    Good luck.


  3. Will

    I put things off (not drastically) for other people and it didn’t really help any one involved. It didn’t really “hurt” anyone, specifically I didn’t end up resentful but waiting didn’t help either.

    eventually I just had to respectfully and clearly present my plans and let people know that they could feel however they felt about it but that I expected them to behave respectfully towards me. They adapted and got there and things are fine. it was kind of like swimming in a cold lake; you just have jump in and then it’s not so cold and the swimming is awesome.


  4. Meike

    I’m in the same boat. I just talked with my parents about all of this and I feel caught between going ahead with what I think would be best for me, and with waiting a while for my parents to be more comfortable with the idea of me being gender variant. To the OP, I wish you the best of luck! I hope all goes well for you in your situation.


  5. Regen

    As someone in a very similar situation, I would say that for the sake of a lot of things waiting to legally change your name is useful (doesn’t piss off your parents, doesn’t make you have to re-fill out all those random forms you had to fill out to go to college). On the other hand you DEFINITELY want to go in to college having chosen a name for yourself and then just introduce yourself with that name.This is what I did, and it was super-effective. Yes, most people here who are close to me also know my legal name, as do my professors and the girl who works in the mail room. But nobody thinks of that as my name.


  6. Jess

    I guess it depends on whether you’re a child or an adult. As a child, you don’t want to piss of your parent because they won’t do things you want (pay for school?). As an adult, you don’t want to hurt people you love and may wonder whether they might be right and you might be wrong.

    Exploring a treatment plan, learning about your alternatives – your risks and your benefits is obviously a good idea. Actually undertaking said plan can be postponed for a while, but remember: if you have as your destination some other physical gender you were not born, the sooner you start the easier/better the results.

    If you don’t have the courage of your convictions sufficient to incur the approbation of your parents, perhaps you are not ready to transition. If you feel perfectly certain now that this is you and where you are going and how you want to be, you have a data point. How did you feel 6/12 months ago. If you wait six months more, now you have several data points – where does that line point?


  7. Thomas

    If you’re able to have a discussion with your parents and family, perhaps ask them for a specific timeline for how long of an adjustment period they need. If you’re trying to respect their feelings, they need to reciprocate and respect yours. If they’re vague, or give you timelines and then when that time comes put it off again, and again, eventually you will just need to move ahead with what is best for you regardless of their feelings.

    I also agree with those who posted before regarding security. If you’re financially dependant on your family (still living at home and having them pay most of your way in life), than the risks are fairly high and your long term safety and security may depend on you postponing until you aren’t dependant on them.

    Be sure that you don’t delay so long that in your efforts to show them respect you begin to resent them. Eventually you just need to take the leap.

    Best of luck!


    Jess replied:

    Isn’t “postponing until you aren’t dependant on them” really dishonest?

    If you just sort of want to try trans, cause it sounds neat and kind of fun, I’d counsel you to have a really hard think about yourself.

    If this is something that is a fundamental need you have deep within you, then you are harming yourself by pretending to not do it.

    Which is it? Choose.


    InfinitySquared replied:

    Yeah, it’d be dishonest; but there are worse things than lying. I’d be more worried about having to go on with the charade than about lying to anyone else.

    Lies come in two categories: The ones that hurt people, and the ones that don’t. Lying about your gender doesn’t hurt anyone–except possibly yourself. You have to consider whether or not you can survive any longer living as the wrong gender; if you can, then you have the option.

    But if you just can’t do it any longer… then, well, maybe it’s better to be yourself even if that means you lose family support. I know, that sounds utterly scary; but sometimes it does come down to that. If it does, for you, I hope you find friends who can help you out when your family won’t. And as for college: Keep your grades decent, and you can get through without family help. I’m doing that now, and I’m a senior. Look into getting credits at a community college, transferring to a four-year school, and finishing your degree there. Much cheaper that way. (Make sure the credits transfer; talk to both schools first. I had to re-take psychology and stats because of that.)

    Good luck, whatever you choose.


  8. Bex

    As Roxette once sang: Listen to your heart.

    You know what you need to do. Never second guess yourself.

    With love.


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