This post is directly inspired by Vivek Shraya’s BuzzFeed piece of the same name and I’d advise that you read it (however, if you don’t have time, this post will still make sense). I’ve been a follower of Vivek’s for around six years and I was hugely pleased for her when she came out as trans. Simply seeing Vivek announce her pronoun change on twitter gave me hope for my future; I remember thinking, if she can do it at 34, I’ve got time. Her transparency throughout her transition has been refreshingly honest and this article is no exception. Have You Told Your Parents is quintessentially Vivek Shraya, it’s a heartfelt and relatable piece which really stood out to me in particular.
I’m a person who came out to just about everyone before my parents about my sexuality. I was lucky to have supportive friends and the use of online forums such as TrevorSpace; these spaces allowed me to question my sexuality and explore it before thinking about coming out to my family. When I did eventually tell my parents it was complicated. It was neither a horror story or a fairytale. It was an uncomfortable few years as their confusion and internalised homophobic ideas pushed me into denial of my identity. The whole situation taught me that sometimes it’s easier to slowly educate people and explain your identity to them once they have a clearer understanding.
Ever since I’ve known that my gender exists outside of the binary, I’ve wondered if or when I should come out. I’ve feared that coming out as trans and non-binary would push me into a second denial of my identity. Speaking to friends about my gender has been difficult enough; it takes dedication and energy to correct pronouns and explain trans and non-binary gender. Sometimes it’s rewarding, and sometimes it’s just plain exhausting. Coming out for a second time to my family feels like a daunting and unnecessary task for me right now. In the words of Vivek, ‘maybe I’m not ready to have formal conversations with my parents about my gender, even if they might be open to learning and accepting me’.
Vivek’s piece helped me to realise that, as she stated, ‘there is beauty in love that thrives even when difference is unnamed’. She discusses the beauty of being able to be yourself around your family, even while not being explicitly ‘out’ as trans. For now, my comfort is improved by validating myself, rather than seeking the validation of my family, who may not even understand my gender identity. My family will watch as I wear clothing which makes me feel good; they will appreciate the new styles I try and the variety of suit trousers and fancy shirts I own. They will tolerate me as I cut my hair into various androgynous styles and they will think that I’m a wonderful advocate for a multitude of gender identities. I will be ‘out’ with other people, they will know and understand that sometimes I might prefer a different pronoun or even name. Perhaps someday, when my family are more educated and I feel more need, I will tell them about my gender identity. Perhaps it is equally valid for me to have achieved self-acceptance and stability in my own identity.
I cannot improve on the way which Vivek concluded her article, so instead I will leave you with her words: ‘So the next time I am asked [have you told your parents?], I hope to answer: “I have done something harder. I have told myself.”’
I’d be interested in hearing about how you feel about being ‘out’ with your family, whether in relation to queer, trans or non-binary identity. If you’ve read Vivek’s article, what did you think?- AB
all article quotes are copyright of BuzzFeed and Vivek Shraya, no copyright infringement intended