When you come out as a trans young person, it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand and accept you for who you are. This can be difficult if your family is having difficulty with your gender identity, or if they reject your identity altogether. This is a very hurtful thing to experience, but it’s important to remember that you deserve to be treated with respect.
Here are some things you can do if you’re having family difficulties as a trans or non-binary young person.
What to do if your family doesn’t accept your gender identity
If you feel that your family are not supportive, here are some things you can do:
Ask them to engage with support groups
It may take your family some time to come around to you being trans – this may be an entirely new concept to them and they can feel overwhelmed. It can take time for parents to let go of the ideals and expectations they had in mind for you, and although this is understandable, it is also important to look after yourself during this time.
There is support available to family members who are coming to terms with your identity or coping with your transition. The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) offer support groups for parents and family members of the trans community.
While your family takes time to understand and come to terms with your trans identity, remember to look after yourself – you deserve to have your needs met too. If your family refuses to engage with a support group, then it’s especially important you take care of yourself and build a support network.
Create a strong support system
Knowing where to turn when you’re going through a difficult time is important. Think about who you can go to if you need a break away or someone to talk to. This might be someone who you can stay with for a night or two whenever things are particularly overwhelming, or simply someone you can call or text whenever you need to get something off your chest.
You could also look into seeing a counsellor who can listen to you without judgement and help you to work through your emotions.
If you need to talk to someone, you can get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service. Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to connect with a trained volunteer.
Finding your chosen family
Make sure you spend time with people who understand – these could be other members of the trans or LGBTI+ community, or they could be other people in your life who accept your identity. Finding people who accept you for who you are and can offer you the support you need is so important, and over time you can build up a chosen family of people who you can turn to whenever you need to.
Take a step away from damaging people
This may be difficult to do, especially if it’s someone you really care about, but if somebody is making you feel bad and is negatively impacting the way you feel, it may be necessary to put up boundaries in your life.
- Setting physical boundaries: This could be spending less time with family members who make you feel bad, or visiting less often at the weekends
- Setting emotional boundaries: If there are certain things you don’t want to talk about, or if someone keeps saying hurtful things, then you can tell them not to bring these things up with you. You can also choose to stop interacting with certain people, or reduce the amount of time you spend with them, in order to protect your mental wellbeing.
Managing your emotions
This is a difficult time in your life, so it’s important to explore how you’re feeling and find ways to manage your emotions, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Use creative outlets like writing, singing, or painting to express yourself, or write down how you’re feeling.
Learn more about dealing with difficult emotions.
Join a peer support group
Being able to connect with others going through the same thing as you can make a huge difference. Both TENI and BeLonGTo offer peer support groups where you can meet other trans or non-binary young people in a safe space and share your experiences. This can also be a great way to make friends.
Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 0861800280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.