Author Topic: Nephew (ftm) came out to his mother, she doesn’t accept, I’m aunt seeking advice  (Read 1487 times)

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Offline Kombucha

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I hope this is okay to post here.  “Aunt” wasn’t included in your def of an SO, but I didn’t see another section for family members... 

For what it’s worth, I’m very close to my nephew, so much so that I’m the only one he’s felt comfortable enough with to talk to about his identity.  He’s 13, ftm.  He just told me a few weeks ago, actually.  Apparently, he told his mother (single mom, my sister, she only has one child) back in January, and her negative response was traumatic for him.

  So in short, his mother’s rejection is specifically what I’m seeking advice about, although if you have any advice at all about helping a young person through their transition just in general, I’m very open to learning anything.  I feel responsible for him right now, especially since I’m the only one within the family that knows|accepts his trans identity.  I don’t want to fail him.

So here’s the whole story, and I apologize for being long winded.  Lol.  Habit when I write. 

His mother already knew that he liked girls, and he’d opened up to her in the past about having a girlfriend.  I think he went through more than one relationship actually.  (I know, 13 seems so young for that stuff!  Lol. But I guess I was a late bloomer, personally, so what do I know.)

Anyway, my sister who I’ll just call Barb was fine with the idea that her daughter was a lesbian.  That didn’t seem to bother her in the least.  Very accepting, just as I’d expect, since we’re a pretty liberal, open-minded family, especially me and my two sisters (my parents are a little different, but I digress.)

Then in January I get a text from Barb saying she’s sending.. I’ll just refer to my nephew as Sam.  *not his real name*.  She’s sending Sam to a therapist because Sam asked to see a therapist to help him with some confusion he was having over his “sexuality.”  If I remember right, in the text she said her insurance would only cover one session, but she’d pay for more if he felt he needed more because she’d do anything for her “daughter.”  My sister, of course, uses feminine pronouns, I’m just trying to use male here out of respect for my nephew, but that’s not how she refers to him.  Sorry if this is confusing. 

At that point, I did not know he was trans.  I took my sister’s text at face value, that this was about sexuality, and not gender identity.  In retrospect, I think this is probably after Sam came out to her as trans, his mother didn’t accept it, but she must have been okay with him seeing a therapist.  Honestly I’m going to have to ask him if he actually ever saw that therapist, because I’ve never heard boo about it from anyone since that one text. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, he came out to me as trans. He only did so after he heard me correcting his mother when she used the wrong pronouns when referring to a trans man on TV.  He then felt it was safe to tell me. 

It breaks my heart that I’m the only one within the family he’s felt comfortable enough with to confide in.  Although it does comfort me to know that he’s not completely isolated; he has friends that are very accepting, including a friend who is trans, and he’s found acceptance in social media circles.  He’s quite extroverted, which I’m grateful for.  As an introverted person myself, I have a tendency to bottle up my feelings and try to deal with things by myself, and I’m glad that’s not in his nature.  I think his loud, outgoing personality will actually help him through life. He certainly will never accept being isolated, as no one should.

Anyway, after he came out to me, he told me he’d tried to come out to his mother in January, and I was shocked to hear her response.  She told him she didn’t have a son, she had a daughter.  He also told her what name he wanted to be called, and she lectured him on how your given name is a “gift from your parents.”  I pretty much face palmed at that point.  I don’t know why she’d act like that.  It surprised me.  (And lots of people change their birth names, I mean,  come on!)

I wanted to talk to her about it, but Sam begged me not to.  He told me I’d be putting his “safety” at risk if I tried to talk to her.  He didn’t want me to let her know I knew.  So I promised I wouldn’t say anything, although I’m now not sure if that was the right move.  But at the time I felt I had to promise.  I wanted him to know that he was safe and that he could trust me, and I won’t break my promise. I can’t do that.

I did probe by what he meant by safety???  My sister is not a physically abusive person, although I didn’t know she was transphobic either, so I definitely probed for an explanation, and from what I could gather he was talking emotional safety and the safety of his things (getting his phone taken away from him, etc.).

My sister has always had a temper and a strong stubborn streak.   I experienced it a lot growing up with her as her younger sister.  She’d have major screaming outbursts, but I haven’t experienced that side of her much as an adult, since we no longer share a living space.  Now when I see her, I just see her smiley side.   But Sam, of course, sees all her sides, and apparently she hasn’t changed since we were kids.  He’s afraid of her outbursts and her ability to ground him from things.

Also, apparently he had some sort of inappropriate anime fan art on his phone at one point?  So now she goes through his phone and his tablet occasionally, announcing beforehand, “it’s time to check your stuff.”  And then he hands it all over, and she goes through it all.  So now he regularly deletes his texts to me.  He’s afraid to have anything trans related in his history at all. 

This just sucks.  It’s hard enough to be trans in this society, but to have your own mother not accept you on top of it is just horrible. 

He’s going on vacation this summer with his mom and my other sister.  He loves to swim, but doesn’t want to wear a girl’s bathing suit this year.  He asked me to buy him trunks and a swimshirt, which I gladly did.  The package should arrive tomorrow, but now he’s freaking out about what he’ll tell his mother.  He wants me to tell her that I bought them because I was afraid he’d get a sunburn.  She’ll see right through this, plus I don’t like hiding all this stuff.  I feel like it doesn’t benefit him to hide things.  But I promised not to say anything so I’m in a weird spot.

 I told him we’d simply tell her that he feels more comfortable wearing this, because that’s the truth, and he agreed with that.  I mean, she can’t tell him what to wear.  That’s his choice.  Also I’ve worn swim trunks before over my bikini at water parks, because I felt uncomfortable standing in long lines practically naked.  It’s not unheard of for women to wear more modest swim clothes.

Still I wish we could all be more open about this, so that everyone could get used to calling him the right pronouns and so he could feel accepted.  I feel like if we keep confronting my sister with the reality that she has a trans son, that maybe she’ll come to accept it.  Not ever mentioning it to her again might just make her think it was “just a phase.”  Also, it clearly hurts their relationship. 

I know therapy is probably the next move here.  I suspect that’s what many of you will suggest.  But from that text I received back in January, I suspect it’s going to be too expensive for my sister, also I don’t think there’s anyone around here that specializes in these things.  I tried to see a local therapist many times for my own issues (depression) and got nowhere, and that’s a pretty common issue.  The only therapist I found was almost an hour away, and then she wouldn’t even see me unless my doctor referred me to her, which I didn’t have a doctor at the time. Lol.  And that’s just me trying to find a therapist for a typical mood disorder.  Lol.  So I don’t think therapy will be an easy option for them...  but I plan to suggest it, if I’m ever able to even talk to my sister about any of this.  Also I need to find out how Sams last therapy session went, because he’s never mentioned it...

So any suggestions?  I think the swim clothes thing will probably bring everything to a head.  Any idea how I should navigate that conversation?  Is there a book I can give her, or something to help Barb through this.  Idk.  I’m open to any advice.

Thanks for listening.

Online Northern Star Girl

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I hope this is okay to post here.  “Aunt” wasn’t included in your def of an SO, but I didn’t see another section for family members... 
Dear Kombucha:

Yes indeed, it is definitely OK for you to post here with your questions and thoughts regarding your young 13 year old FTM nephew.
**** Aunts and Uncles are indeed considered family members, so please know that you are most welcome here.

As you continue reading other posts and sharing and posting your concerns, other members will be along that will be of help to you.


>>>Below is my response to your very first INTRODUCTION posting several hours ago.,252948.msg2370187.html#msg2370187

Dear Kombucha

If you have not already found it, here is a Forums section just for you ......

                                 Significant Others talk
click LINK: >>,26.0.html

A place for support of the family (parents, siblings and/or children) and intimate partners of trans* people. Please respect that this is an area for SO (Significant Others) to exchange questions and to share thoughts.

Also, since your nephew is very young at 13 years old.... you might want to read some of the postings in our Youth Section.
                                  Youth Talk
click LINK: >>,496.0.html
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Offline kaygee

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Are you and Barb close?

I would suggest you & Barb see a counselor together.

Just the 2 of you at first because Barb may be more open without the presence of your nephew.

Then perhaps bring in your nephew.

If Barb won't see a counselor with you, then make an appointment for yourself, and tell Barb about it ahead of time.

I hope it all works out well.
Give me ambiguity... or give me something else.

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Offline sarahc

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Ugh, these situations are sooooo hard. As someone who as a 46-year old adult chose to come out to my supportive aunt before my stubborn mother, I can deeply empathize with this situation.

I think it's fair to say that these days, parents, pretty much more than anyone else, can have the toughest time accepting that their kids are transgender. Many moms, like mine, develop all sorts of dreams and visions for their children, and a child coming out as trans can not only shatter those cherished dreams but also lead the mom to question whether she did something wrong or to believe that the child is mentally deranged. These thoughts are pretty traumatic to the parent.

I am not sure that continuing to confront your sister is going to be productive, and your involvement could eventually become counter-productive (you might sense that already). In many cases, letting the parent who is having trouble processing this news have space and lots of time to consider things can be more productive than continuing to pester the parent into acceptance. Haranguing can lead to more stubbornness.

I wish I had better advice for you, but honestly the best answer is for the child to get access to therapist who specializes in working with the transgender community. With trans kids especially, I would caution against having the kids go to a generalist therapist if at all possible. These days (especially with the pandemic), there may be virtual therapy options via video-conference available, and (in my opinion) those would be a better option than in-person meetings with a generalist.

Best of luck - as I said, these situations are particularly hard, and unfortunately lots of time, patience and openness to listening among all parties is usually the only possible way to keep these cherished relationships from being permanently damaged. And sometimes, despite the best efforts of all, the parent never does get around to acceptance. And so kid and parent just try to get through the teenage years as best as possible. I hope that doesn't happen here, but I want to be honest that that sounds like a real possibility in this case, especially without specialized therapy.

50 years young.
Known that I am trans since...forever.
First therapy session / decided to transition / hair removal: October 2018
HRT: January 2019 (journal,244009.0.html)
VFS: September 2019; three-month report here
Full-time: April 2020
FFS: August 2020
SRS: January 2021