The LGBT Health & Development Program

Family Holidays: Tips for Trans Individuals

Posted on October 31st, 2017 by IMPACT in Families Blog, Featured, Youth Blog. No Comments

Image of a Thanksgiving dining table set with plates, brown folded napkins with silver napkin rings, decorate small pumpkins, and yellow/orange mum flowers as the centerpiece. There's a fire in the fireplace in the background. The table surface looks like re-purposed wood.

David Nakayama, “Thanksgiving table – 2”, November 26, 2009.

Written by Kai Korpak, B.A., research assistant

Seeing and visiting family during the holidays can be an extremely stressful time for individuals on the sexual and gender minority spectrum, especially for individuals who do not fit in the gender binary. When I was in the early stages of my transition, I was worried about how family would perceive me. While my family is now very accepting of my transition, it did take a while for everyone to get on board. These are some things that I did to get through the holidays:

Be prepared to hear your dead name.

When seeing family after just starting my transition, I worried about which name they would call me. It definitely felt like a slap in the face to hear my dead name (the name given at birth) and wrong pronouns after going through so much to legally change my name. The first Thanksgiving after transitioning was a bit awkward. I had to keep reminding myself that slip-ups were not out of spite, but a mistake. Knowing that this would happen, I had to mentally acknowledge that being dead-named and misgendered was not a reflection of who I was.

Bring a friend or loved one along.

Having someone else whom I could lean on was extremely helpful. Not only did they help ease tension if needed, but they also helped keep things interesting if there was a lull in conversation. Having my partner with me, who was aware of my triggers and what might be anxiety provoking, was helpful because they were able to be there for me if I needed them and potentially be a buffer from more unaccepting family members. Knowing that someone was looking out for me and was accepting of me allowed me to relax and worry a bit less.

Have an exit plan.

Make a plan ahead of time that you can use if things get to be too much. If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything, give yourself permission to get out. If this is not feasible because you’re staying with parents or other relatives, find a way to mentally escape for an hour or just a few minutes. An exit plan can also be as simple as having a book you like to read and escaping into it to distract yourself from family.

Know where additional resources are.

If you are away from home while visiting family, you may not have access to your typical support network. If this is the case, you can jot down the numbers of some local or national lifelines like the ones below:

Trans lifeline: 877-565-8860

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255).

The Trevor Project‘s 24/7 Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). 

Additional resource: The National Center for Transgender Equality has information on a variety of transgender issues, including Families.

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