As an extension to this question, my daughter was very relieved when I offered to talk to my family for her. My husband thought of having a brunch with our kids not in attendance. I thought of doing an online meeting (Zoom etc.).

Now I've come around to the idea of simply sending out letters. The benefit, as I see it, is that it gives every family member a chance to react without being observed by us or others, since their reaction may not be immediately supportive. It gives family a chance to digest the information before they interact with us again, and the power to choose when they are ready to interact.

However, it also strikes me that this could be taken as a very cold and distant way of disclosing very important information.

In our case, "family" is only 6 people (her father's an orphan). There's just my parents who live with my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother and sister-in-law who live about 5 minutes away from them.

Question: How could I disclose my daughter's new gender identity without sounding cold or distant?

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I am not trans, but I am queer and I came out to my immediate and extended family when I was 17, so I can only speak from my experience.

Regardless of how you plan a coming out, it inevitably won't go quite as expected.

When I came out to relatives, I spoke to most of them myself either in person or over the phone. There were awkward questions, long pauses, some even thought I was being sarcastic and I had to come out twice to those ones. My very conservative uncle kind of just shrugged his shoulders, yet some of my most LGBT friendly relatives cried. Some asked me not to tell older relatives to prevent them any "pain" (definitely not their decision to make*). Eventually, the whole family had heard it from me or through the grapevine. One of my supportive aunts was a bit sad that I didn't tell her personally, but that was temporary and we are on great terms now.

People will have unpredictable reactions. Schedules will prevent some people from showing up to the "coming out" brunch. Cousin Rob will get his letter before the other relatives and he'll call them up to talk about it - your closer relatives may be hurt they had to learn such a significant thing from cousin Rob.

So unless you and your daughter are equally close/distant to each of your relatives, I believe a one-size fits all solution (such as the letter) is probably not the way to go. I would suggest starting the process with relatives that you are closest with, both because they may be the most hurt by finding out indirectly, and because this is much more significant to them than it would be to a distant relative who barely knows your family.

If you are looking for the coming out to not be cold and distant - especially if you are coming out on someone else's behalf - then you'll probably need to be present when you tell close family members. Whether in person or over phone/video, be ready to respond to uncomfortable questions, and help them process/understand the news depending on their individual reaction.

For the relatives that really are more distant, I think the letter or a private message on social media could be a solid way to do it. It's possible that they'll hear it through another channel first, but in my experience they probably won't be too terribly hurt.

You won't be able to shield her from all of the negative reactions if there are any, but I think it is wonderful that you are doing this for your daughter. I wish you all the best!

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    This is a great answer and is making me think hard. I'm wondering, though, if you would say anything differently knowing that "family" is only 6 people in our case (her father's an orphan). There's just my parents who live with my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother and sister-in-law who live about 5 minutes away from them. Aug 25, 2019 at 2:50
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    @SnappingShrimp - that definitely changes things! In that case, if your family is already fairly LGBT-friendly/knowledgeable then the brunch could be a great option! On the other hand, if you're going to need to explain to a specific person or two what it means to even be transgender, then it might be easier to inform them separately. And knowing the small size of the family, I would discourage the letter more!
    – Wrokar
    Aug 25, 2019 at 16:20
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    Don't forget the possibility of unexpected reactions the other way, too. My aunt came out when I was in my late teens; my parents made sure they had an entire afternoon available to deal with my reaction to the news. My actual reaction? "Uncle James is now Aunt Mary? Okay."
    – Mark
    Aug 25, 2019 at 20:37
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    I have to add that while face-to-face at a gathering would have been less shocking, the weight of waiting until the next visit to see my mom and get things out in the open was too much and so in the end, I called her and told her, while emailing my sister (who lives with her) about the situation and asking her to run interference (she's a social worker/therapist). Everyone was shocked, but everyone is okay and they're looking forward to seeing our wonderful trans daughter as soon as possible. Sep 9, 2019 at 16:54

I'm on the autism spectrum and I'm also agender.

When I was 23 years old, I had a lot of difficulties and decided to find out if I was, or not, in the autism spectrum (which would have explained my difficulties).

It turns out I was indeed on the autism spectrum, but since I had told no one in my family about my difficulties (aside for my parents), I knew learning that I was on the autism spectrum would come as a chock to them.

I also knew that, when people learn something unexpected about you, then tend to have a lot of questions and can sometimes react poorly (not trusting you/not believing what you are telling them).

Since I didn't want to deal with the immediate response of my family to the news, here is what I did:

We have a Whatsapp group (with my parents, sister, aunt and cousins) where we talk, exchange pictures and stuff and I decided to broadcast the news of my autism in this group. Basically, I just sent that:

Today I was officially diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Kisses to you all.

And that was it.

(Side note: my mom did have to phone my grandparents to tell them the news because they aren't on Whatsapp).

No one really responded to the message. Some family members phone my mom to learn more, others (possibly) didn't but the news was out there, it was a relief for me and no one blamed me for the way I annunciated the news.

Note that, if someone would have blamed me for the way I communicated the news, I wouldn't have care because I choose this medium to protect me and not them.

At the beginning of this post, I said that I was agender. I'm not really out to my family yet (so I have no experience of coming out as a trans person), however, from my experience, coming out as autistic and coming out as trans is, in many ways, very similar.

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