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Family and Transitioning - Lupinia Studios
Randomness from Natasha Lockhart
Family and Transitioning
Years ago, one of the reasons I didn't come out as trans to my mom was because I was afraid it would permanently rattle our relationship. I've written pages of posts on exactly that subject in this journal, in fact; we never had the perfect mother-child relationship, there was certainly friction, but ultimately, things really weren't that bad, in the grand scheme of things.

But now, having been out to mom as trans since October, and on the eve of completing my legal name & gender changes, things have played out exactly as I feared they would. Every conversation feels awkward and distant, and the 100 miles between where I grew up and where I currently live seems much further than it used to. And all the times I've seen her in person have been bittersweet at best, with one incident that was one of the most traumatic public experiences I've ever had as a trans woman.

She says she's trying to accept me, she says she's trying to understand. I believe her, for the most part. But her planned timeframe for being able to see the real me is measured in years, and in the meantime, every mention of my old name hurts. Every time the subject comes up, the message I get is basically "it'll take years for me to be able to love you again", and just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

I tried to tell her some of this, but she doesn't understand, and doesn't appear to be making much effort to understand. I talk about my name change, she acts like changing my name is a betrayal of some sort (though, the fact that I took her pre-marriage middle name as my own seemed to help her a bit). I try to describe how much it hurts that I have to hide who I am around grandma, but it doesn't even register; her response is "I just don't get that, I certainly wouldn't have trouble pretending to be someone else for an evening".

She's also gotten pretty adept at destroying what little self confidence I have in my appearance, completely unintentionally. Despite the fact that I pass and blend in ~80% of the time in my daily life (more frequently in the DC area where I live), she acts like seeing any femininity in me at all takes a leap of faith and 120% effort. To someone who struggles daily with self-image issues, hearing your own mother say "Eh, I guess I can kinda see you potentially being a woman, maybe" is devastating.

I chose to delay coming out to her until I moved out of her town for exactly this contingency; if things didn't go well, I didn't want to have to deal with it on a daily basis. But now that things are playing out exactly as I always feared, it feels horrible. I already lost my dad's love for unrelated reasons, I know better than to even try re-opening communication with him; in the process, I lost touch with his entire side of the family. And now, I feel like I've also lost my mom's love, to an extent. My sister is too laser-focused on her fiance to care about anyone else, I've tried and failed to have real conversations with her for months. My grandma still doesn't know I've transitioned, at mom's insistance. One of my uncles won't speak to me anymore. Most of the rest of my extended family doesn't know anything has changed.

I just...I feel like I'm no longer welcome in the only home I knew for 26 years. I feel like I'm losing the last parent I had left. I don't know what, if anything, I can do about it. And it hurts every time I think about it.
11 howlings || Howl At Me
schnee From: schnee Date: April 8th, 2014 09:57 am (UTC) (Perma-Link)
Wow, that's really harsh. Surely even if she doesn't understand you, she should still love you? You're still her child, after all.

And surely even if she doesn't understand why it's important that she use your new name, she should be able to accept when you say it's important, and do so, out of respect for you.

I've no idea what you can do about the whole thing, either; I wish I had something useful or helpful to offer. :/ That said, if your mother says it's going to take her years to get used to you being a woman, then perhaps you might say "OK, I'll talk to you again after those years have passed, then". Explain to her that you're not willing to put up with this sort of treatment. You want and need and deserve support, and to feel good about yourself; positive experiences, not negativity from people who're supposed to have your back and be close to you.

As for your grandmother — I'm just curious, how do YOU think she'd handle it? I noticed that you said you haven't come out to her "at mom's insistance"; assuming, hypothetically speaking, that your mom was not a factor in this at all, would you come out to your grandmother? Depending on what sort she is, she might handle it better than your mom, and having an ally in the family who accepts and understands would be a huge boon.

Either way, good luck!
natashasoftpaw From: natashasoftpaw Date: May 19th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
I appreciate all the help; things have improved a bit since I wrote this, I'm about to write another one. Telling grandma is still an issue; I'm genuinely not sure how she'd react. Mom is convinced she'll take it very badly, I'm not so certain either way. There's a family gathering coming up in June that, if I'm unable to go to as myself (likely), I'll use as a reason to issue an ultimatum; either mom has the conversation with grandma by X date, or I'll write her a letter myself and tell her why she wasn't told long before now.

(Sorry for the delay, too; I wasn't receiving comment notifications, and didn't realize it until now)
schnee From: schnee Date: May 19th, 2014 09:29 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
No worries about the late reply. And all the best for the family gathering!
the_gneech From: the_gneech Date: April 8th, 2014 01:26 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
I think pretty much the only thing you can do is keep loving your mom and do your best to be patient, which I know is not as easy as it sounds.

You've got friends around to help. Don't be afraid to call on us!

(Deleted comment)
natashasoftpaw From: natashasoftpaw Date: May 19th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
*hugs* I know, it just really hurts to feel like I was losing my last parent when both are still alive. But things have improved a bit, I'm about to write about it now.

(Sorry for the delay, too; I wasn't receiving comment notifications, and didn't realize it until now)
(Deleted comment)
twoofdtm From: twoofdtm Date: April 8th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
First - *hugs*

Second - There's not much any of us on the "outside" can do to fix what you have going on with your mom/family and that sucks. If we could have a family intervention to help we'd all be there, by your side helping you and her/them learn together how to grow.

Know that we love you, regardless. Who you were, who you are, and who you are to become.
natashasoftpaw From: natashasoftpaw Date: May 19th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
*big hugs* I really appreciate that, thank you :-)

(Sorry for the delay, too; I wasn't receiving comment notifications, and didn't realize it until now)
raynfrog26 From: raynfrog26 Date: April 10th, 2014 01:36 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
Encourage her to attend PFLAG meetings and talk to a councilor. Maybe a couple sessions of family therapy would help too.

Like Schnee said too, tell her that you will talk to her after those years have passed, or give her a taste of her own medicine, tell her that after treating you the way she has it is going to take years for you to love her again... It is a two way street and she is being incredibly selfish, maybe she can't see that until it bites her. Despite knowing it is hot we all have to touch a flame to believe it.

I also believe that you should tell your grandma. It is only going to continue to give your mother fuel because if you can hide it for one night you should be able to hide it all the time. Besides, maybe grandma will accept you and help your mother learn to as well, or if she doesn't accept it maybe they can still help each other work through it. While you need the support of your loved ones to transition, they need support to change their perceptions of who you are as well.

Maybe you should hold a funeral for your male identity. I know it sounds a little silly on paper, but providing that outlet for your family to mourn the you they have always known will allow them to make room for the new you in their hearts. Not to mention it is an affirmation to your dedication to your new identity, maybe seeing that will help them see how you really feel about it.
natashasoftpaw From: natashasoftpaw Date: May 19th, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC) (Perma-Link)
Thank you very much for the feedback, I appreciate it :-) Since writing this post, things have improved considerably; I'm about to write a new one, but I saw I had comments that I never received notifications about. I did get mom to go to PFLAG, we've been to two meetings of their trans-specific group recently. And, it seems to be helping, kinda.
11 howlings || Howl At Me