National Coming Out Day is an annual celebration that takes place on October 11 each year to support anyone in their coming out process. It was initially celebrated on the first anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 1988.
Coming out is an individual journey with many layers. There's no timeline for how long it takes, and each person gets to decide what it looks like for them.
I've written many posts about coming out, including what it looks like to come out as an ally and how transitioning impacts your whole family, but I want to talk about what it means to come out as the parent of a transgender child.
When our children come out as transgender, we often wonder who we have to tell and when. If our children are in school, do we have to inform their teachers? What about the parents of their friends? Does the head of our house of worship need to know, and what impact would that have?
We are still processing having a transgender child and what that means as parents and for our families, and our minds are already racing about the bigger picture.
You don't have to tell anyone about your child being transgender until you are ready. Not doing so doesn't mean you don't support your child.
There will be times when it makes sense to share about your child being transgender. You're going to want the support of a professional to help you process this information and navigate the changes. Perhaps you'll confide in a trusted friend with whom you can share your emotions and experiences and who can help support you. You may join a support group of other parents of transgender children to help you sort out what comes next and how to move forward.
There will be times when it doesn't make sense to share about your child being transgender, and that's okay.
First, not everyone needs to know that your child is transgender. The family member you only see every other year, the co-worker you talk to in passing a few times a month, the teacher your child had in high school; these are all people you don't have to tell. If they ask how your child is in conversation, you can either avoid using names and pronouns or use your child's birth name and pronouns guilt-free. It's not worth your mental energy to out your child to these people.
Second, not everyone is a safe person to share with. Some people in your life may be transphobic. You likely already know who these people are. You don't have to tell people who you are fearful of telling about your child being transgender. That's not to say they won't find out, but it doesn't have to be from you.
Third, you may not be ready yet. Learning your child is transgender is a lot to process. It is an emotional time and is a huge transitional period, not just for your child but for your entire family. It's okay if you don't share the news with anyone immediately or for a while. You get to decide when the time is right and when you are ready.
Finally, your child may not be ready yet. Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you are using one set of names and pronouns at home and a different set when talking to others. That can be challenging to navigate, but you have to let your child lead the way regarding their social transition.
Outing yourself and your child is a very personal decision and is made on a case-by-case basis and with the permission of your child to do so.
Don't rush yourself to share news you aren't ready to talk about yet. This isn't good for your mental health, and it forces you into conversations you may not be prepared for or questions you may not have answers for.
And, if someone approaches you before you are ready, "I'm not ready to discuss this yet" is a perfectly fine way to diffuse their inquiry. No one else gets to set your timeline for you.
Subscribe to get my latest content by email, and I'll send you SIX questions to ask yourself before sharing that your child is transgender: because it can be a little overwhelming and sometimes you just need to know where to start.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.