LGBTQ and Transgender Tweens and Teens: Coming Out to Family

Sometimes I get emails from tweens and teenagers asking me how to come out to their families.  Coming out as LGBTQ or transgender to your family can be scary, tough, relieving and sometimes feel overwhelming.  There can be anxiety or fear that they won’t understand, will say mean things or that they won’t love you the same. But. It can be a relief to have affirming supportive parents that help you become you and love you as you are.

Staying Safe

There’s a few things to keep in mind when coming out to your family.  The first is if you feel safe in your home.  Do you feel like your needs will still be taken care of?  Usually even parents and family that aren’t accepting will still love and care for their children. But, it’s worth thinking if you will be safe, because safety is a priority. If you feel unsafe, think of if there is one family member that you feel safe with to come out to.  This might not be your parents.  This might be a cousin or grandparent, aunt or uncle. If you feel comfortable, you can talk to this one trusted person first to get a feel for how your family will respond.

Ways to come out

When you have come out to your one trusted person, see if you feel comfortable coming out to other members of your family.  Sometimes tweens and teenagers write notes to their family, or text their family members.  If you feel the most comfortable this way, that is fine.  But, it might be better to tell them in person.  You can try to find a time when they can give you their attention.  Maybe not right as you get out of the car for school, but when you have time to talk to them.

I know it can be scary to say the words to your family, but it’s possible they already have an idea of your gender identity, sexuality or that you are transgender. It’s possible they are just waiting for you to say something first.  They may be nervous to ask you about it because it is your own journey to discover or know.

If you know you have a family that is not affirming to the LGBTQ community or makes comments about people who are transgender, it can be more difficult to come out to them. It may be safer to wait until you are an adult or come out to someone else you trust that will be supportive and helpful and kind, they may be able to help you come out to your family.  Some people that may be trustworthy are your school counselor, a friend, your own therapist if you are in therapy.

What happens Next?

After you come out to your family, they may have some questions for you.  They may wonder what to do next or if they need to call you by a different name or pronouns.  They may wonder if you have thought about your sexuality or being transgender long enough to decide.  They may be completely supportive from the start.  They may feel sad or grieve because they feel like they are losing the child they raised and getting a new child.  But, you are still the same person on the inside as you have always been and its important for them to know that.

Before or after you come out to your family, it might be a good idea to go see a therapist for greater understanding of your sexuality or gender.  It may be a good idea to get together as a family with a therapist.  Your parents or family might feel supported at a local PFLAG meeting.  There are a number of support groups in metro Atlanta, across Georgia and in South Carolina for you and your family.

If you feel like you need to reach out to a therapist, I provide support for children who are LGBTQIA and transgender, gender fluid and non-binary and their families.  You can contact me here to reach out to me.  You can learn more about working with me here. In Georgia, you need to have your parent’s permission to begin therapy.

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