The holidays are stressful for most, but even more so for gender-variant people and their families who face a wide array of additional stressors this time of year. The build-up of family obligations, the traditions, and regular family drama would be enough for anyone to handle before adding in tensions over anticipated reactions from others (if you have disclosed or will do so soon) and anxiety over secret-keeping (if you have not).
Reduce excess stress as much as possible, and allow the holidays to be memorable in a good and positive way.
- Make a decision about being “out” to each family member before you visit.
- If you will be out of town and away from your everyday support network, find local LGBT resources prior to any travel.
- If you do plan to disclose to your family over the holidays, have your support ready.
- Make alternate plans if the situation becomes difficult at home.
- Don’t assume you know how someone will react to news of your gender identity. Projecting your fears and uncertainties onto someone else won’t help anyone.
- Your family’s reaction to you may not be because (or not only because) you are transgender. Their own hectic holiday schedules and life stressors may cause them to act differently than they would under less stressful conditions.
- Disclosing one’s gender identity, like life, is a continuous process. You may have to “come out” or disclose many times, in a variety of ways, and under a wide range of circumstances.
- Be patient. It took you time to come to terms with who you are; allow your family and friends the time they need to adjust.
- If being with family is too difficult, create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved ones and blend new and old holiday traditions together.
- Reassure family members that you are still the same person they have always known.
- If you are partnered or if you have children, be sensitive to their needs as well as your own.
- Remember to affirm yourself.
- Realize that you don’t need your family’s approval.