So, I came out as trans to my parents this weekend. I was very, very nervous about it, primarily because of their religious views. I already knew that they strongly oppose gay marriage and view same-sex sex as a sin, but I knew less about what to expect with their views towards transgender people. Considering I had to explain what transgender even means, and that I knew I would have to do so, I didn’t really have any way to know what to expect. Plus, I had to do it over the phone since I live far enough away from them that I usually don’t see them in person except for holidays and such.
I was very relieved by their initial reaction. They just asked what transgender meant and asked other questions to figure out what I was talking about and what was going on, and they told me they loved me no matter what. I was a little surprised to find out that they did actually already understand that homosexuality isn’t a choice, which means it must have been quite easy for them to see being trans in that way, too. They think that since you can’t help the way you feel (with respect to sexual attraction or gender identity or the like), that there’s nothing wrong with whatever way a person feels. That’s one major point I was very glad I wouldn’t even have to argue for since they accepted it before I even started talking to them.
They don’t really seem to quite understand, though. They told me in no uncertain terms and with several examples (of tomboys) that it is perfectly ok for a person to act or dress in a more masculine manner. My mom repeated more than once that I needed to remember that I was ‘really’ female, though. They said that I might ask other people to call me something else (a ‘nickname’) or use different pronouns for me (I was too chicken to mention masculine pronouns so I only mentioned gender-neutral ones), but that they were going to keep calling me by the name they gave me and weren’t going to try to learn a new set of pronouns. We discussed what the Bible has to say about homosexuality (they’re very set in their opinion that same-sex sex is a sin and I gave up trying to argue that one since it doesn’t really affect me that much anyway) and transgenderism (very little, aside from a verse or two discouraging cross-dressing, which my mom interprets to mean that a person should not cross-dress in a deceitful manner–that’s no problem, I absolutely refuse to cross-dress in an effort to fool people into thinking I’m female *grin*).
My mom made a point of saying that I didn’t need to be coming out to everybody and that it wasn’t everyone’s business. I wonder if this is more a thing of being worried about my safety or being worried about the embarrassment (for me or them?) of my being known as trans. I’m hoping it’s much more of the former than the latter, because I feel very strongly that this is not something I should have to be ashamed of. I will and do take safety into account when determining who I want to be out to, but I refuse to hide in a closet for fear that my coming out will make other people uncomfortable.
I also ended up talking about my asexuality a fair amount. They wanted to know where I got this idea about being trans and if I would still think I was if I hadn’t found the term (I do think so, yes, although it probably would have taken longer for me to figure it out, but the same applies to my asexuality, too). I told them about figuring out that I was asexual and then, through that community, learning the basics about LGBT stuff. I’d told my dad I was asexual about a year ago, when the chance randomly presented itself. It was an awkward conversation and we hadn’t talked about it since then, but he mentioned our previous conversation, now. I’d always kind of vaguely wondered if they thought I was making up this thing about being asexual because I was gay but was too scared to tell them.
They don’t quite get the asexuality thing, either. They said maybe it was because of my depression, because depression can cause low libido. I told them, no, low libido is different from a lack of sexual attraction. In hopes of allaying their fears that I might have sex with the ‘wrong’ gender or in the ‘wrong’ circumstances, I told them that sex was really just not a ‘temptation’ for me since I am not even attracted to people that way. I said I am quite sure that I am asexual and have only become more certain as time goes on, and it’s not just the depression because thinking of myself as asexual makes my entire adolescence suddenly make sense (I was not depressed in high school). They then proceded to erase my asexual identity by saying that it might change later or I might feel different later and that it might really just be the depression or something. I kind of understand where they are coming from and that a large part of it probably really is worrying that I might be gay (or might ‘become’ gay), but it is still very frustrating. No one would tell me that “you might feel differently later” if I told them I was heterosexual or maybe even if I told them I was gay. At least they are perfectly ok with me saying that I don’t ever want kids.
I got a lot closer than I would usually like to lying about my religious beliefs during this conversation. I think I would possibly even have lied directly if I’d had to (and I have an unusually strong compunction against lying directly and knowingly). Coming out as trans is enough of a thing all by itself. I am NOT going to come out as an atheist at the same time, especially considering that my parents’ biggest worries with my coming out as anything is whether I can still be a good Christian and what is the good Christian approach to take. Fortunately for me, being Christian and being trans are not mutually exclusive, and my parents already understand this, although they are still worrying. My mom made me promise to pray about it. I suppose I can technically still do that, even if I don’t believe the god I am praying to exists.
I hate that religion has to be so strongly intertwined in all this, though. It makes things quite awkward for me as a closet atheist, and I have to be careful about what I say. I have to just let it go when they say that an archaic old book that has been translated and re-translated over and over is a more reliable source of information than science is. They don’t just mean that it is a more reliable moral source, either, they mean about factual information about how the world works, too. They keep cautioning me to take any information about LGBT stuff from secular sources with a grain of salt. The whole conversation made me feel even more afraid to come out to them as an atheist than I already was. I am more afraid to come out to my parents as an atheist than as trans, and that is saying a lot, because I was terrified to come out as trans.
But, yea. My parents seem ok with the fact that I am trans. I have no idea how they will be with me transitioning, though. They seem ok with the fact that people have gay ‘feelings’ but are vehemently opposed to gay sex. Will they likewise be ok with me having trans ‘feelings’ but not with my transitioning to overcome my gender dysphoria? Will I be able to get them to understand that there really isn’t much of a choice? These are strong feelings, not mild ones, and I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to happy if I have to live in the wrong gender.
You’d think I would be less anxious after finding out how my parents would react to my coming out. Now I am stuck worrying about whether they will try to stop me transitioning or if they will change their minds about accepting me once they realize the full implications of my being trans. But I have to be patient, because they need time to figure things out because all of this is very new to them. It just sucks not knowing what to expect about how things will go from here.