What I Wish My Parents Knew: Blog by a Trans Therapist
March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility – a significant day for trans people to feel seen, if they have the privilege of a space in which that is safe. Regardless of their specific gender identity within the umbrella of transgender (trans woman, trans man, non-binary, gender fluid, agender, etc.), regardless of their gender expression or lack thereof (clothing, hairstyle, amount of chest fat/tissue), this day marks an acknowledgement of the fundamental human need to be seen.
I wish I felt safe enough to share the wonder, complexity, and beauty of my gender with my parents.
There are so many misconceptions associated with transgender that I could get into in this blog. Especially given the current societal discourse, now more than ever, people need to understand that allowing others to exist in the way that they want to exist is a matter of life and death. But for this blog, for Trans Day of Visibility, I am choosing to focus on the beauty of transgender identity that I wish people like my parents could be open to understanding, because they really are missing out.
I wish they, alongside all of my loved ones, saw me how I like to see myself. I mourn the freedom to be vulnerable with them and connect with them in this way, and simultaneously I feel sorry for them. I think if my parents gave themselves permission to explore their own gender identities, they would discover deeper meaning and fulfillment. For me, gender identity is not just about choosing pronouns or rejecting socialized gender roles; it is the existential, philosophical acceptance and exploration of one’s sense of self. There is nothing wrong with having no interest in this type of thing, and there is no one correct way to be trans. But I and many other trans folks mourn the lack of intimacy in being able to share our perspectives and personal journeys with the people who gave us life.
If I could feel safe to come out to my parents, I would tell them that when they raised me as a “girl,” I believe they did the best they could with the knowledge and skills they had, that I am thankful for that, and that, at the same time, it did not meet all of my needs. I believe that parents’ fears about being a bad parent can get in the way of being open to feedback and healing. What immense freedom and joy I could have had if I had been allowed to dress myself how I wanted, choose my name, and feel unrestricted without expectations of being a sweet, quiet, submissive young lady. There are only a few years a child has to be able to experience unfiltered, unabashed fun and curiosity, and it saddens me that it is dampened by so many forces, including gender expectations.
Children already lack so much say over their lives, that being free in their gender would provide such great empowerment and autonomy. I would share with my parents that, specifically as someone who identifies as non-binary, I feel seen by this Instagram post by a page called Woke Scientist that states, “Non-binary not just as in ‘not boy or girl’ but non-binary as in not reducing people to binaries of good/evil.” I would say that I would feel seen by them if they read another post that expresses, “Non-binary as in we are all living, breathing ecosystems…” and “They/them as in I am not self-made, I am community-made.” I would tell them that I like the word pangender to describe my gender as all-encompassing of the gender spectrum, of masculinity and femininity, of planets and rivers and Animal Crossing NPC’s and imaginary numbers.
If a trans person screams out for connection and no one listens, did they make a sound? I hope and believe that in our collective healing, more people will not only have the safety to be seen, but that their loved ones will desire and long after seeing them. Thank you for allowing me to be visible through this blog.
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
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Resident in Counseling