"When Family is Having a Hard Time Accepting" / by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva

Coming out as transgender can be a difficult and alienating experience.  It is especially difficult if you do not have a good support system.  Fortunately with internet, many resources are available on line.

For those who are reading and are not familiar with the terminology, let me clarify.  Gender is made up of three parts: 1) gender biology, that is, our biological sex that is assigned during the birth based on appearance of genitals, 2) gender expression, how we dress and act, and 3) gender identity, how we feel inside. 

Transgender refers to individuals who where assigned biological sex of a female or male at birth but who identify with the opposite gender.  This people often undergo transition from assigned gender to a desired gender. 

This involves many steps, and each person goes through all or some of them in order to achieve desired results.  Some of the steps involve dressing in the desired gender, taking hormones, or undergoing surgery.  Transition is a personal journey and each person defines his/her own process.

Families, and parents especially, often have a difficult time accepting their children’s expressive gender.  This often has more to do with lack of knowledge. They are having a difficult time understanding, and especially letting go of the daughter or son they had. 

Some parents are more accepting than others, and some may take a long time until they begin seeing you for who you are.  A great book for parents is True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism – For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals” by Mildred L. Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone!  The good news is that there are many resources and support groups that can help you connect with people who are going through a similar experience. 

Depending where you live, see if there is a local LGBTQ community or a support group you can attend.  If you live in a small city where resources are scarce, internet is a great way to go.  Just typing in 'transgender' resource or support can bring out numerous online results.  If you haven’t seen already, I highly recommend watching Sundance documentary, Trans Generation, following four college students undergoing gender transition.  Remember, even though at times you may feel alone, you are not! 

Suggested Resource:

World Professional Association for Transgender Health – www.wpath.org

FtM International – www.ftmi.org

FtM Mentors – www.ftmmentors.org

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