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My daughter was brave enough to come out to us that she is a woman. That story is on Parenting SE.

My daughter would like to come out to the extended family well before the holidays so that people will have time to process the news and the holidays will be less awkward. Because she is 17 and still early in the delicate, difficult process of transition, I think the responsibility to inform the family falls squarely on me. My husband is an orphan so he's off the hook. I have a few unique barriers to coming out on my daughter's behalf.

  • Grandpa is in his late eighties and dealing with both general senility and the onset of Alzheimers disease. He's a sweet man, but is about two to three generations behind trans people becoming normalized (we live in a west coast blue state). Mostly I'm worried that my daughter will have a terrible groundhogs-day experience with Grandpa where she's forced to reveal her transition ad infinitum.
  • Grandma is more difficult. She is about a generation younger than Grandpa and finds LGBTQ+ people and issues uncomfortable and something best ignored. I have no clue how she will react now that it's hitting close to home.
  • Aunts and Uncles will be shocked but won't reject my daughter I believe. Her older cousin will be fine. My little sister, however, has a kindergartner and I feel bad for making this issue come up before he's really ready to grasp it. I know there are books made for children in that age range but still...

Bonus issue: before my daughter announced her gender identity, she had been dating a wonderful young lady we adore for over a year. Wonderful young lady is being super supportive and seems to have no intention of ending what is really a beautiful relationship. I know my daughter is bi, so now I'm guessing her girlfriend is too. So it's not just the transition, it's also that she's seriously dating another female.

QUESTION: Given any of the situations above, how do I help my child come out as a trans woman to the extended family? I would love especially to hear from people who have transitioned as well as those who love them.

  • It sounds like your transling has only been questioning/testing the waters for a few weeks (based on your linked question on Parenting). How does she handle misgendering (people using wrong pronouns) and deadnaming (calling her by birth name instead of desired name)? The answer may change depending on how non-confrontational she has been up to this point. – Lux Claridge Jul 10 at 18:36
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    @LuxClaridge My daughter is forgiving of us using her original pronouns/name. She understands it's still new to us and she knows we're pushing forward to help with the transition. That counts more than the occasional slip. Surprisingly enough, it's her little sister who will stop you in your tracks and correct you quite firmly. – SnappingShrimp Jul 10 at 18:47
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    Have you asked her how she would like to come out to the extended family? – apaul Jul 10 at 19:43
  • @apaul We talked about it and the biggest message I got was that it should be done before the holidays. We didn't openly discuss who would do it, so you're right, I must ask. It's just that I would never ask one of my children to tell Grandma something potentially upsetting. I'll feel that responsibility until the day she dies. Despite her narrow-mindedness, we do love Grandma and want her support. – SnappingShrimp Jul 11 at 19:26
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I'll preface this answer stating that I am queer, but have not come out to my extended family (what's left of them), aside from having my Facebook name match my new name and being friends with my cousins there. Despite being vocal in the past about my identity, I don't know what all my family has seen or if they even call me Lux. This answer will be generalized, but I still think it will be applicable (and can help with other social circles).

Before coming out

First and foremost, ask your child what she wants. Coming out is still a very personal issue and only the individual gets to dictate how they come out. If she wants to make the announcement herself then your job is to be present and to stand with her. However, it's possible that she'll want you to announce it. You did say you were having a boy when pregnant with her, I think it's still appropriate to announce that you actually had a girl. (Usually outing someone is a big no-no, but here it's okay imo)

Either way, the important thing to do beforehand is to get on the same page as your daughter. Ask her what is okay to say and what's not. Do you tell family only her new name/pronouns or do you give the whole story of her journey so far?

Then ask how she wants to come out. Does she want it done in person, over the phone, or even via cheesy family newsletter? She probably has been thinking it'd be in person (I've been assuming it would be), but there are other methods each with its own pros and cons.

Then you should warn her that she may get intrusive and inappropriate questions. Within 5 minutes of me coming out on FB I was asked if I was getting the surgery. It seems when it comes to trans issues all of the mores and taboos get thrown out the window. People don't normally ask each other about genitalia, but now that your kid is trans she may get asked questions. Tackling these questions can be as simple as saying "I don't know" or "We're still figuring out where this gender journey will take us" and remind family that this is still a pretty private affair. On the flip side, you and your daughter can be as open as you want. Announce that she'll do hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but no surgeries at the moment, or voice training and make-up lessons. Ultimately it's up to your daughter.

Coming out

No matter what method of coming out is used, keep things light and state things matter-of-factly. We're still in a society where your daughter's very existence is controversial and some family members may not be supportive. I believe just telling it how it is with confidence can go a long way. I have a cousin who doesn't know why my name changed and pressed my mom for information. I assume he thinks that I am trans and I also assume that he's not cool with it. However, she just held firm and said that I am an adult and get to make my own decisions. It shut him down. You can give a similar argument since your daughter is a young adult now and making a name for herself (literally in this case, I guess).

After coming out

After the announcement is made is when it becomes your time to shine. When you're an ally, the name of the game is solidarity. When family and friends misgender/deadname your task is to correct them. More often than not it's just a slip up (it is a 17 year old habit calling her by her dead name after all). There are a couple of different ways to correct, the standard being repeating the sentence with the correct pronoun:

Family Member: When he and I saw the latest blockbuster movie...

You: When you and she saw the movie...

One that my friends have used was the ouch/sorry method:

Family Member: When he and I...

You: Ouch

Family Member: Sorry, when she and I...

Personally I'm not a fan, but some people like it.

On the subject of apologies for misgendering/deadnaming, when people slip up they should apologize, but only once. People can overcompensate with their apologies:

Person: When he... Oops, I mean she. I'm sorry.

Trans Person: It's okay.

Person: No, I'm really sorry. I swear I'm such a good ally. I am so accepting of trans people (etc)

It's unnecessary because mistakes happen, but then it also highlights that the misgendering happened and then puts the person in the spotlight as they try to [humble]brag about their being an ally. You can help shape how people interact with your daughter and how they talk about your daughter simply by reminding them the correct name and pronouns and even teaching proper trans etiquette. Based on comments, it sounds like the little sister is doing a pretty good job of this already.

In general, hop online and see what trans people have to say. Reddit is a potential source, recommended by Pyritie in the comments. Getting educated is a great thing for an ally to do and taking the time to Google and read is the best step. See what trans people have complained about when dealing with cis people and try your best not to do those things and correct people when they do those things. Continually ask your daughter when it's okay to confront people when a situation pops up and you weren't sure what to do.

Regarding the girlfriend

If your daughter's sexuality is also going to be part of the discussion ask your daughter and her girlfriend what labels you should use. You say that your daughter is bi, but her girlfriend may not identify as such. Maybe pansexual is more appropriate, maybe lesbian since this is a women-loving-women (wlw) relationship now. The point is, figure out what everyone is comfortable with then follow the above steps.

Good job on being a supportive mom!

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    To add to the "Before Coming Out" section, it can also be good to talk about how she would want things handled if a family member takes things poorly. Does she still want to try and educate them? To never see them again? There's lots of responses here, and it can be good to think about that before you actually run into problems. – Tylerelyt Jul 11 at 15:22

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