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Dealing with an unsupportive family member may not be as hard as transitioning, but it definitely stings. Being transgender is a part of who you are and unfortunately, not everyone will be okay with it. Coping with an unsupportive family member is tough. However, there are ways you can try:
- Communicate: When dealing with an unsupportive family member, communication is key. You may be hurt by their non-acceptance of who you are, but it’s important to do your best to keep the lines of communication open. Explain clearly why you are hurt by their non-acceptance and how you would like to work through this. Tell your family member that you are still the same person they know and love, you’re just finally able to be your true self. If the unsupportive family member is a parent, they may blame themselves for your transition. You can show them that there is no one to blame and that there is nothing wrong with transitioning.
- Understand where they’re coming from: You don’t have to accept where your family member is coming from, but you can try to understand it. It may be that this particular family member is unsupportive because they have never met a trans person before or have read misleading information about the transgender community. If this is the case, you can offer to help them by introducing them to websites and literature that will give them a better understanding of who you are. Your family member may also have a religious or cultural bias, which explains why they feel they cannot support you. No matter what their bias may be, try to understand where they’re getting it from so you can try to remove the stigma.
- Be patient: Some people come around eventually, so it’s best to be patient. It may take a family member a few weeks or months to decide that they’ve made a mistake by rejecting you.
- Don’t accept their slander: Violence and slander is never okay, and you do not need to stand for it. Do not accept the abuse of an unsupportive family member. You can start by saying things like, “I do not appreciate that comment. It is transphobic and hurtful.” If that doesn’t work, leave. Your safety is important and if you think it will be compromised by this unsupportive family member, remove yourself from the situation.
- Cut your losses: If after you’ve tried all of the above and your family member still remains unsupportive, cut them loose. You don’t need that kind of person in your life. It will hurt, but it’s probably for the best.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with you. It is your family member that is refusing to see you for who you are.