Author Topic: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions  (Read 270 times)

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Offline Laura1951

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Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« on: August 31, 2020, 11:59:45 am »
 

Two weeks into my recovery from FFS, I’m planning the next steps in my transition. If you’ve read my “Should I stay or Should I go” thread, you’ll know that I’m deciding whether I can stay in my current neighborhood and city or whether I should pull up stakes and move to a more trans-friendly city. I’ve done my homework and I’ve found a great new development to live in.

In the meantime, I’ve come out to my closest tennis friends and if I’m to stay here, I’ll want my neighbors to know that Laura will soon be mowing the lawn, getting her mail, taking walks and driving. Given that there are about 12 children from six different families, I want to help them help their children understand what’s happening.

To this end, I’ve already crafted a coming out letter to one neighbor who lives across the street. Her husband is a lawyer and she’s a licensed therapist. (Oh, I do know about picking the low hanging fruit. LOL) Here’s how the letter ends.

"Becoming Laura and staying in <this city> will only be possible if I feel accepted by my neighbors. This is not to put undue pressure on you or your friends on <this street>, since I’m also comfortable selling my rentals and house to make the move to a more trans-friendly city. You do not have to accept me, but I would appreciate your discretion.  I’m telling all others that my surgery repaired my nose with a little cosmetic surgery added.

I’m sorry that you have to be the first to tell on this block, but I think you understand why you had to be. Not only do I hope for your acceptance, but also for the acceptance by the other families and their children. Whether they feel will feel comfortable answering questions from their children plays into this conversation. I know that’s a tough mountain to climb, so I value your opinion about my next steps. Can you help me proceed or is it better to not try? I’m perfectly comfortable placing a down payment this week for a new house in <new city>, so please don’t feel any pressure that you need to help. Your opinion matters to me and I’m comfortable taking your lead, even if that means not telling anyone else.”


So, my question to the group. I’d like to be able to provide resources to the parents in my neighborhood that will help them address their questions before and after they see Laura. I’ve done my best to find some online, but all I’m finding is help for parents to talk to their trans kids. Any pointers would be appreciated.

Laura
One New Life to Live (My personal blog)

Laura's HRT Journal     |     Laura's FFS Journey.   |  Stay or Go



Offline Allie Jayne

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2020, 12:34:41 pm »
Laura, I went through this process last December, but I personally spoke to all of my neighbours and explained to them that I had to transition as it was affecting my health. I took time to make sure they understood this is not something I just felt like doing, but was something I needed to do. I live in an older community, so not so many kids, but also older people have less understanding. My responses were 100% positive, even my very blokey next door neighbour gave me a kiss! The kids in my street just readily accepted my change, some saying it was cool!

My job is to teach kids, and we were worried my change might be disruptive to our classes, and came up with some answers to anticipated questions to end discussion quickly, but after teaching hundreds of kids, not one has asked, and they have shown no hesitation in interacting with me. We also came up with an information sheet to hand to repeat visiting teachers who knew me in my former role, and nothing but acceptance and support from them. I do live in a very accepting country in Australia.

Hugs,

Allie

Offline Laura1951

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2020, 01:07:35 pm »
Laura, I went through this process last December, but I personally spoke to all of my neighbours and explained to them that I had to transition as it was affecting my health. I took time to make sure they understood this is not something I just felt like doing, but was something I needed to do. I live in an older community, so not so many kids, but also older people have less understanding. My responses were 100% positive, even my very blokey next door neighbour gave me a kiss! The kids in my street just readily accepted my change, some saying it was cool!

My job is to teach kids, and we were worried my change might be disruptive to our classes, and came up with some answers to anticipated questions to end discussion quickly, but after teaching hundreds of kids, not one has asked, and they have shown no hesitation in interacting with me. We also came up with an information sheet to hand to repeat visiting teachers who knew me in my former role, and nothing but acceptance and support from them. I do live in a very accepting country in Australia.

It's nice to meet a fellow educator, @Allie Jayne. I spent 20 years in the classroom before moving up the food chain.

I'm happy to hear that you successfully navigated the path to be accepted by your neighbors. Any Qs and A's you used would be helpful.

Thanks,

Laura
One New Life to Live (My personal blog)

Laura's HRT Journal     |     Laura's FFS Journey.   |  Stay or Go



Offline MikaelaA

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2020, 01:19:50 pm »
Hi Laura,

I would take a more personal approach as Allie has explained.  I was fortunate to have been able to follow her coming out before I had to and it worked very well for me.  People will respect you more and see you as a real person if you explain it to them directly instead of just reading some words on a piece of paper.  I definitely would not approach this from a cynical perspective but just explain your journey including the struggles that lead up to this point.  I have played with the order in which I tell my story and I get overwhelming acceptance and understanding every time when I explain this is not just a casual decision.....I'm transitioning to save my life.  As soon as they understand this is a biological life or death situation, they seem to have a lot more compassion.  I hope this has helped.  I wish you well in your journey.


Mikaela
Finally discovered the real ME: September 5, 2019
Started HRT: September 20, 2019
Out to my wife: October 25, 2019
Out to my closest friends and family: February 9, 2020
Out at work: July 31, 2020
Legal name change: September 29, 2020

Offline Laura1951

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2020, 01:40:35 pm »
I would take a more personal approach as Allie has explained.  I was fortunate to have been able to follow her coming out before I had to and it worked very well for me.  People will respect you more and see you as a real person if you explain it to them directly instead of just reading some words on a piece of paper.  I definitely would not approach this from a cynical perspective but just explain your journey including the struggles that lead up to this point.  I have played with the order in which I tell my story and I get overwhelming acceptance and understanding every time when I explain this is not just a casual decision.....I'm transitioning to save my life.  As soon as they understand this is a biological life or death situation, they seem to have a lot more compassion.  I hope this has helped.  I wish you well in your journey.
@MichelleA

Thank you Mikaela. I know coming out by letter is sort of the chicken way out. I've had quite a bit of anxiety each time I've told a friend and the long letter format has allowed me to explain my story without forgetting something. I think you may be right about approaching neighbors in person, but still it's scary.

Laura
One New Life to Live (My personal blog)

Laura's HRT Journal     |     Laura's FFS Journey.   |  Stay or Go



Offline MikaelaA

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2020, 02:18:53 pm »
@MichelleA

Thank you Mikaela. I know coming out by letter is sort of the chicken way out. I've had quite a bit of anxiety each time I've told a friend and the long letter format has allowed me to explain my story without forgetting something. I think you may be right about approaching neighbors in person, but still it's scary.

Laura

I absolutely agree the whole coming out process is scary.  The more you do it though the more refined your story will be and the easier it will be to tell.  I know you can do it, we're here to support you.  I wish you all the best.


Mikaela
Finally discovered the real ME: September 5, 2019
Started HRT: September 20, 2019
Out to my wife: October 25, 2019
Out to my closest friends and family: February 9, 2020
Out at work: July 31, 2020
Legal name change: September 29, 2020

Offline AllieSF

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2020, 04:03:19 pm »
Hi Laura,

I am a strong proponent of the personal, face to face, approach with those most important to you and those who see you the most like your neighbors.  I also think that the shorter the explanation the better. 

"Hello Mary and John.  We have been neighbors for [so many years, whatever] now and I wanted to personally tell you that I have some important changes coming into my life.  I am a transgender woman and will be moving forward with my transition, which will be outwardly noticeable.  I have dealt with this all my life and have decided that now is the time to do something about it. Instead of you noticing some change and wondering, I just wanted to give you a heads up.  I recently had some facial surgery to help my visual presentation and soon you will be seeing me doing my daily routine in a female presentation.  If you have any questions now or later, by all means let me know and I would be very happy to answer them the best that I can."  Then just close mouth and listen and respond, as appropriate, to any questions, comments or whatever.  If answering a question keep your answer as short as possible and still be answering their question.  The more details, for most, becomes too much too soon and can become confusing.  I have been there and done that and the results were far from satisfactory.  Also, do not mention anything about their children.  You would just be putting unnecessary thoughts into their minds. 

You can offer to meet for coffee or wine moment at a later date to go deeper if they want, but not because you want to.  Keep it simple and factual.  You do not have to be sorry for anything.  Be proud of yourself and who you are and own that moment, at least the part where you tell them.  I would also never say that their response will determine whether you move or not.  Whether you decide to stay there or move is your business not theirs, unless they are close friends and also happen to be your neighbors.  Then maybe a little more detail may be in order.  They do not need to feel guilty of maybe forcing you to move, nor do you need to give anyone the satisfaction of thinking that they won and helped get rid of an unacceptable neighbor, a trans person.

I did what I recommended to my closest family, physically close, on the phone with my siblings, and face to face with my neighbors, coffee crowd and baristas (they were the hardest because they see me everyday!), and then by telephone to those who I seldom see or get in contact with.  It worked great and my only issues were with my immediate family who were shocked, and, at the same time, already knew something was up because of my pierced ears with studs and my shoulder length hair.  They thought that one of my friends who I occasionally invited to special family gatherings because her family were in Florida was my gay partner!  My family's reaction was more a NIMBY one than anti trans one.  I didn't talk to my daughter for more than 9 months.  We are now almost back to normal, thankfully.

I believe that someone in your position who is eventually going to live full time it is better to accept themselves as they are, be proud of who they are and just be themselves.  When they are ready, they can start presenting themselves as they want to, starting slowly or all in one shot.  I came out first and then started to present female over a year later.

If your neighbor is a licensed therapist, she really does not need a letter to be able to understand what is happening.  A good conversation with her will probably really help you before coming out to your other neighbors.  I think that you will be more than pleasantly surprised at the amount of toleration and hopefully acceptance, that you will receive from her and your other neighbors.

I hope that I am being too strong in my response, but I truly believe that what went well with your tennis partners can be easily replicated with your neighbors, at least most of them.  I also know that personal fear can be very strong and controlling to the point of forcing someone to do something that they would rather not do.  If I remember correctly, you prefer to stay where you are because you like it.  If you want to stay there, why let someone's differing opinion (non-accepting of you and who you are) force you to move.  Again, if your neighbors are your friends, than most probably will be after coming out.

When you come out to them is up to you and may vary dependending on which neighbor and how they relate to each other.  Start with you neighbor across the street and do not hesitate to ask her if she has any recommendations for coming out to the others.  She should be very good at that.

Laura, I just don't like letters for those physically close to us.  It seems impersonal  I think the letter may be good as a reference if they ask questions, but not as a pre face to face conversation tool.  I do know that it is so hard and scary.  I think working on strengthening the courage you have already built up to go as far as you already have, show you that you can do it.  I truly hope this helps you to a successful conclusion to this phase of your transition.  I do wish you the best of luc.

Allie



HRT - February 2017
Full Time - July 2018
Orchi - January 2018
BA - September 25, 2019
FFS - January 10, 2020
GRS - TBDDD (To Be Determined, Decision and Date)

Offline Laura1951

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 02:37:16 pm »
My Dear Sisters, @MichelleA and @AllieSF,

I'm most thankful for your encouragement and advice. I've lived so much of the last four years in fear that I always tread carefully as I step forward. I'm so impressed Michelle about your quick rise to being out, since it took me three years just to fully commit to being on HRT without stopping.

I think you're both right that I'm thinking this through too much. Given that these are neighbors and not close friends (like my tennis group), the short, simple method is best along with an invitation to talk deeper or answer their questions at a later date. That way I've established my intention to be Laura in the neighborhood and left the door open to educating them more later.

You've made this easier for me and for that, I'm truly thankful.

Laura
One New Life to Live (My personal blog)

Laura's HRT Journal     |     Laura's FFS Journey.   |  Stay or Go



Offline Ellie_Arroway

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2020, 05:24:48 pm »
I don't talk all that much with most of my neighbours but that's because I'm somewhat of an introvert.

I told some of them face-to-face, and with the rest, I just put a short note on a Christmas card last year. It had very few words on it! I think it just said <new name>, formerly <old name>.

I figured it was obvious what I was doing, since I started presenting as a woman full-time. I also thought it would be too much like I was "asking permission" if I wrote a letter to my neighbours. I discussed that with my therapist at the time and she agreed with me.

I have had no negative interactions and my nearest neighbours treat me the same as they would treat any other person.
Started seriously questioning: 24 Aug 2019
Referred to GIC: 23 Sep 2019
Full-time female presentation since: 21 Oct 2019, unbroken since 12 Dec 2019
Official name change by deed poll: 11 Nov 2019
HRT: "kind of" started 15 Jul 2020
Most of my story is in the Just another mtf tale thread!
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Offline AllieSF

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Re: Helping Neighbors Answer Kid's Questions
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2020, 05:49:45 pm »
Thank you Laura  It is a very nice feeling that every once in awhile one's own recommendations actually are understood and appreciated.  That happens so rare to a person with a thousand ideas on how to resolve someone else's issues.  Good luck with all of this and keep us posted.  Just remember that my ideas are not always correct!

Allie
HRT - February 2017
Full Time - July 2018
Orchi - January 2018
BA - September 25, 2019
FFS - January 10, 2020
GRS - TBDDD (To Be Determined, Decision and Date)

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