I met someone recently who was about to visit her family to break the news that, although born male, she spent an increasingly large part of her life dressing, behaving and, more importantly, feeling like a woman.
Understandably she was quite apprehensive about their reaction and had visualised the possible outcomes. In her mind she had assumed that their reaction would be negative and that she may lose contact with her family.
When I told a friend of mine that I was working with Born, she commented that for her sons? generation, the trans community was accepted without question. However, for older people the knowledge that one of their family is ?different? can be a challenge to understand. This can result in feelings of shock, confusion, horror and potentially estrangement because the truth is, quite simply, too much for them to handle.
So the question, ?is it too risky to be true to yourself?? is one that each person has to answer for themselves. The difficulties inherent with ?coming out? balanced against pretending to be someone that you are not has different implications for each of us. Religious beliefs and attitudes, in some cases, make it dangerous; travelling in certain countries presents other risks; the culture in some careers is less tolerant than others and the list goes on.
The person I met had prepared for her visit on an intellectual level but, I would suggest that it is impossible to prepare emotionally for her family?s reaction to the news. Being rejected (as she had anticipated was likely) would have a fairly obvious impact but so might unexpectedly being accepted. While this would be her preferred option, there would probably be some emotional issues for her to deal with such as feeling guilty, having a sense of letting her family down, of not living up to the male image that they had nurtured during her childhood etc.
None of these ? and others – are impossible to process and release, of course, but considering the emotional fall-out as well as the rational response that could be part of the result of being true to ourselves is an exercise worth undertaking before taking action. Being true to ourselves is an important part of personal balance but taking care of ourselves is equally essential.
Guest Blog by Barbara Guest
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