Parents: Why we’re way too hard on them

So I’ve found my biggest issue with transpeople is how we react to our parents.  There are a million other things that also drive me nuts (particularly when it comes to transmen), but the parents issue is one that always grinds on me more than the others.

It’s this horrible thing where we seem to assume that our parents should automatically accept us, that they should be able to look past their own personal experiences and welcome our transitions with open arms.  In reality our parents are human beings just like everyone else and they’re going to need some time to adjust to the idea that their daughter is really their son or vice-versa.

It’s worst with transpeople whose parents are honestly trying.  You’ll get the transpeople whose parents love and accept them and always will, but when they first come out they say things like “That’s my bo–girl…um…son.  You’ll always be my son.”  Now, they obviously mean “you are my child and this isn’t going to change that,” but because we’re so overly sensitive we hear it as the world’s biggest insult.  We act like these parents are as cruel as the ones who throw their teenage children out of the house when they try to come out to them.  In reality they’re just being human and taking some time to adjust.  We have to respect their need for time because it’s the only way they’ll be able to respect our need for immediate change.

What gets me even more are the parents of idiotic genderqueer kids who you can tell are just trying to be assholes.  When your mother comes up to you after reading a book on gender and asks “so…you’re a boy…in a girl’s body?” the correct response is not to go on about how on Monday you’re a boy and on Tuesday you’re a girl, on Wednesday you’re both, Thursday neither, and Friday through Sunday you prefer to identify as a Cherry Coke.  Your mother is trying to understand you and you are purposely being a dick simply because she didn’t use the right word.  It’s not her fault she didn’t use the right word, she doesn’t know what it is becuase you haven’t taken the time to explain things to her.  Instead you tell her you identify as a high-fructose corn syrup infused beverage.

It’s also not fair to expect your poor parents to understand that you see yourself as a transman in a biological male’s body.  I don’t understand that and I am trans, your parents are going to be even more confused.

I just think we need to give our parents a break.  They’re transitioning right along with us, but they don’t have the 15+ years of experiencing what it’s like to feel like your body is against you to help them understand.  They can’t read our minds, they don’t know what it’s like for us.  To them we were just their quirky little kids, maybe a bit different from the other boys/girls, but not enough to cause concern.  Sure, we were moody and depressed when puberty hit, but aren’t all teenagers?  They’ve tried so hard to protect us for so long that to hear that they’ve failed in such a hugely fundamental way is heart breaking.  It’s not their fault, there’s nothing they could have done to make us feel any better, but they’re our parents so they still feel guilty.

Then you add in the fact that we tend not to tell our parents until we’re ready to physically transition and that adds another level of shock to things.  It’s hard enough for them to get used to the idea of calling us by the opposite pronouns and a different name, but now we’re also saying we’re going to change how we look.  Different clothes might be ok, at least we still have the same face (complete with Daddy’s eyes and Mama’s nose), but now we’re taking that away from them too?  It’s too much for them to take in at once, they just can’t handle it.  Some will manage with more grace than others, but in reality it’s a huge leap for our parents to make.  We’re asking them to jump across the Grand Canyon when they can’t even walk yet.

So often we forget that we’re not transitioning nearly as much as the people around us.  We forget that our transition affects them just as much as it affects us — sometimes more than it affects us.  We’re so focused on finally making ourselves happy that we lose sight of everyone else’s happiness.  I’m not saying we should give up what we want to please others, we’ve all tried that and it doesn’t work.  I am saying that we need to give them a little more room to mess up because even though they love us, it’s still going to take them more time than we’d like.