TRIGGER WARNING: coming out to and educating family, people asking shitty ignorant questions that are all objectifying and stuff
So, when I first wrote coming-out letters to my parents, I was entirely upset at the idea of including resources for them, or a list of do’s and don’t’s. It was saying, OK, I’m trans, here’s how to treat me like a person. It felt degrading and undignified and I felt like my whole body screamed against it, like it was a betrayal of myself. A friend told me, “I totally get that. Also, don’t be afraid to give people the resources they need to treat you right.” As I nodded, my insides were all, “Ahhhhhhh nooooooo!” (After being more out in the wider world, though, I get what he means: not everyone is an ally-in-waiting, and there also usually no allies in waiting to correct people or come to your defense when people start talking about trans people’s genitals. My feelings and his feelings, as all feelings are, were both so legit and real.)
I was also afraid to tell them that I was angry that they assigned me female at birth without so much as asking me about it, and to tell them different things they’d done to gender me or express prejudice made my life harder. I was worried that it would mean they wouldn’t be able to hear what I was saying. But I was aching to tell them this as much as I was aching for them to understand transness on their own.
In the end, I told them all of it: I told them about my anger and I gave them resources. In the end, even though I very much support rainbowgenderpunk’s idea that just coming out–no, just existing–is enough, I spent a long time handwriting letters and decorating the envelope with glittery drawings and stickers (it’s now hanging on their wall) and making a piece of art that said, “Celebrate with me!” and had a lists of do’s and don’t’s underneath. I eased my worry about telling them about my anger by concluding with a paragraph on the reason why I was telling them all of this, including talking about my anger, was because I love them and want them close to me. Ending with love helped me a lot, because it was true and I needed that reminder.
Well, I am happy to say that as soon as they got the letter, they called me to tell me that they love me, and I bawled. There is definitely still more journeying to be had, and some of it will come as they start to digest these resources. Yesterday, I came out to a lot of my extended family, and I organized this long, disorganized list of links into something more user-friendly. (The part of me that shrank at giving resources to people a month ago is cringing a lot now that I’m making them more user-friendly. :P) I know a lot of people already have lists like these they give family and friends, but I had trouble finding anything comprehensive as I was collecting resources. So I’m sharing this with you all in the hope that it will help make someone else’s coming-out process easier. When I first did that foraging for the right sites for me, I was so grumpy that I was looking for resources for them at all. Hopefully this will save somebody else that time and effort. Of course, you don’t need to share resources at all–this stuff is so Google-able. For myself, I decided I’d rather be the one exposing them to the resources I chose.
Without further ado, here they are:
- The APA covers essential information on what it is to be trans: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx?item=1
- T-Vox is also a guide: http://www.t-vox.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
- This book looks awesome, though I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy myself: http://www.thegenderbook.com/
- The depressing statistics facing the trans community. (It’s important to note that having supportive families greatly mitigates these stats… I am so glad to have you all.) http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf
Information on being genderqueer:
- Wikipedia article on genderqueer people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer#Out_genderqueer_people
- An article on what it means for this blogger to be genderqueer: http://neutrois.me/2013/04/17/explaining-genderqueer-to-those-who-are-not/
- Valprehension has a Genderqueer 101 page with resources: http://valprehension.wordpress.com/genderqueer-101/
- Genderqueer Identities has a FAQ: http://genderqueerid.com/gq-faq
- The arguably even more depressing statistics (at least in a lot of categories) facing genderqueer people and other people who don’t fit into the gender binary of male or female: Here’s a summary and here’s the full report.
- Ways to be a trans ally: http://thismongrelland.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/this-is-what-support-looks-like/
- More suggestions for ways to support trans people: http://cnlester.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/10-seriously-easy-things-cis-people-can-do/
- This is a great guide for trans allyship: http://www.transwhat.org/
Resources focused on significant others, family, friends, and allies:
- PFLAG has a national organization and local branches with resources and meetings.
- Trans Youth Family Allies: http://www.imatyfa.org/
- Here’s a booklet of information on trans issues: http://cdn0.genderedintelligence.co.uk/2012/11/17/17-18-49-Booklet_for_parents_and_family_members1108.pdf
- It can be helpful to find community with other people who are close to trans people. Trans Kin tells stories from significant others, family, friends, and allies of trans people.
- Transforming Family is a blog of one family’s journey with their child’s transition: http://transformingfamily.net/
- Grammatical discussion of the singular “they” pronoun: http://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/singular-they-and-the-many-reasons-why-its-correct/
- The importance of correct pronoun use and being a trans ally: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/09/correct-gender-pronouns-to-be-trans-ally/
- What to do if you’re having trouble with someone’s pronouns: http://rainbowgenderpunk.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/what-to-do-if-youre-having-trouble-with-someones-pronouns/
- Kate Bornstein is one of my favorite writers on trans issues. She has written many excellent books, but Gender Outlaw is a good place to start.
- Julia Serano revolutionized present-day ideas of sexism as well as writing to great effect about transmisogyny in her very accessible book Whipping Girl: A Transexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity.
- I like the blogs Neutrois Nonsense, janitorqueer, and rainbowgenderpunk, and the comic series Rooster Tails Comic.
- The book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a great all-encompassing resource guide for the trans community that you may also find interesting.