Community Conversation > Transgender talk

How to educate a family

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jmann:
So, before I begin let me first explain that I am not out to anyone outside of the support group I just began visiting and a collage consoling office therapist. Also, i live in the Cleveland metropolitan area. Cleveland is unique because it is a predominantly democratic region with conservative economic values. But my family is all Republicans mostly for the economic issues. Not that politics is a good way to label people, it just makes a concise summery.

Usually we go months before a transgender issue pops up on the news or into another situation where it is observable by my family. But yesterday (Monday) this happened twice: First my youngest sister was filling out a housing application for Indiana U. when she got to some question asking something about if the student required special transgender consideration (I applaud this school for making these accommodations). My sister did not understand. My mother, who also does not understand, tried to answer the question giving it negative connotation. There was a little bit of rude laughter for like a minute and everyone moved on. Second, that night on the news there was as story about a transgender couple living somewhere in Cleveland that had rocks thrown at their house (it was an M2F and an F2M couple). There were other distractions at this time, but my parents seemed to make a face and not pay attention to this story. I tried to keep these explanations concise, but this was the day i discovered my family really does not get it. I don’t think they understand that this exists, it is real and important, and the real transgender people are not those they see in movies and TV.

So how do I discretely educate my family? Any ideas?

beth:
                      Films like "Boys Don't Cry" and "Normal" may help. Maybe you could rent a film, then leave it lying around and say "It was sad but good" or something like that.   The first thing I ever heard my daughter say about transsexuals (before I came out) was that she saw "Normal" and felt so sorry for the main character and couldn't believe how she was treated in the film.

beth

jmann:
Yes, of course, I have Normal, My life in Pink, and Soldier's Girl (I have not watched this one yet).

Actually, I think that many years ago, I first watched Boys Don't Cry with my parents, and they just did not get it.

Any really unique ideas?

Dennis:
Well, you could stage a transgender pride parade through your living room, with colourful drag queens.

Or, you could try hypnosis by playing tapes that say "trans is good" while your parents sleep.

Or you could just quietly and persistently expose them to trans movies, books and ideas and maybe one will take, rather than giving up on the first one. Normal is probably the best movie of the bunch because they take an ordinary guy acting the role of the trans person and have him go through extraordinary circumstances, like most of us do. In Boys Don't Cry it isn't clear that the protagonist is trans to anyone except another trans person.

Really, there isn't any quick way or magic formula to make people change their minds. They do it on their own when they realize that someone they love is trans.

The way to make sure they accept you is be the best person you can be and then come out to them. Nobody else can do it for you.

Dennis

beth:
             Just tell them about yourself, how unique can you get.




beth

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