For Teens Communicating With Family Members
Know that grandparents and other family members will:
Have questions. We hope this means they’re trying to understand.
Have concerns. We’ve identified a few that might come up and have provided Ray’s responses. You will have your own experiences and questions to tackle.
Make mistakes — get your pronouns wrong, suggest a movie that is blatantly transphobic or overreacts about messing up. Depending on how much information family members have and depending on their comfort level with gender and sexuality, they may or may not understand…soon or ever.
Have faith that your family members can learn.
These conversations may be difficult and draining, and it’s endlessly frustrating to feel entirely responsible for educating your family, especially when it feels like they won’t accept you if you can’t make them understand. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you need a break from questions — one trans person can’t speak for all of us anyway, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
For Grandparents and Other Family Members Who Want to Better Support Trans People:
Do research on your own. It’s great to ask your trans child/grandchild/family member respectful questions about their own experiences. This does not make them an encyclopedia on all trans experiences and vocabulary.
Ask if it’s okay to ask.
Just because your family member is trans does not mean they speak for all trans people. They may not want to answer your questions. It can feel othering to be questioned just for your gender identity. Ask if you can ask them about their transition and respect their answer.
Do: Be receptive if a trans family member opens up about their experience
Don’t: Ask questions about the “surgery”, questions about a person’s genitals, any question you wouldn’t ask a cis person.
Remember that it’s okay to mess up, your trans kid is not making things hard for you on purpose, you’re not crazy for being surprised or not knowing what to do, other parents/grandparents/ relatives have a hard time too. It doesn’t make you a bad person. If you can keep the communication channel open, your conversations will become easier and your relationship can deepen over time.
Read the rest of the series.
Part 1: Transitioning
Part 2: Concerns & Responses