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Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Family Rejected Me After I Came Out as Trans”

When I was 28 years old, I came out as transgender, male to female. My coming out was forced to happen before I felt ready because my dad’s girlfriend had seen me on the street dressed as the “other” gender and told my dad about it against my will. After that, my dad texted me saying I was a disgusting freak and that I should stay away from him and “his family.” In the ensuing three years I have often begged him to just let me visit him again and for him to accept me. He relented on some level, but our relationship hasn’t warmed back up again to what it used to be.

Ever since that coming out three years ago, nobody in my dad’s family has ever taken initiative to contact me. No phone calls, no text messages, no FB messages – nothing. Every single contact so far was always me messaging them first. They haven’t invited me for anything in three years. Whenever I have asked about any kind of family get-together – Christmas dinner or whatever – they have used Covid as an excuse, saying they weren’t having any dinners. But I have a really hard time believing they have never had any family dinners whatsoever in over three years; they don’t seem like the type to be super worried about Covid, and during the times I have met my dad since then, he has never worn a mask. I think they had get-togethers but just didn’t tell me because it would be awkward having me at the table.

I’ve visited my dad and stepmom a few times, but it was always me making the first step. If I don’t contact them, they just kinda pretend I don’t exist. They never call in to ask how I’m doing. They’re always friendly when I’m there, if a bit reserved. But I always get this feeling like they’re just… being polite. I hadn’t heard anything from my dad since he sent me a cursory “happy birthday” text back in June until I texted him again last week. We only live one hour apart, and yet I’ve seen him only three times since my coming out three years ago. Sometimes when I message him, he doesn’t respond at all.

I can’t believe I have lost so much of my family in such a short time. I don’t have many family members left now. My mom, who embraced my gender identity, loves me very much but is going to die of cancer soon. All I will have left are a childless aunt and uncle I see once every four months, and if they’re ever gone, there’ll be nobody else left, except the ones who shunned me. And I likely won’t be able to start a family of my own; I’m infertile, I’m attracted to men, and few people want to seriously date a trans woman anyway. I don’t feel like I can count on finding a relationship to “save” myself from winding up alone. On some days I just feel crushed by loneliness and feelings of rejection, like everyone else is gonna have a family for the rest of their lives while I’m just gonna be left behind, unloved and alone



. How do I cope with the loneliness due to being trans? – Lonely Trans Woman

I’m so sorry your family has shunned you for being yourself. I can’t imagine the feelings of rejection, loneliness, and betrayal, but I hope you know that their behavior is only a reflection of their limitations and not yours. You are a person worthy of deep love, of community and family. For many people, their family of origin is toxic, causing far more harm than offering benefits. If you are someone who was/is abused, who is rejected for being yourself, and whose boundaries are not respected, you are better off cutting ties with the people who harm you in this way, even if you are related. But that doesn’t mean you have to be alone or that you have to be without a family.

“Family” can be created through connections with people who deeply care about us, who respect and accept and love us for who we are, and who make us feel good about ourselves. Do you have friends in your life who fit this role? Then, congrats – you have a chosen family! You can foster these connections by initiating with them the kinds of things you would like to do with a family, like having dinners together, celebrating holidays together, traveling together, supporting each other through difficulties, and celebrating good news together.

If you don’t have friends you consider close enough to build these kinds of connections with, it’s never too late to find them. It’s also not impossible for you to find a love connection and build a long-term relationship – and family – with someone. I follow a non-binary activist on Instagram named Jeffrey Marsh. They are a wonderful inspiration for overcoming childhood trauma and family rejection and for finding long-term love. (They’ve been with their partner, Jeff, for over 11 years, and they were older than you when they met their now-partner.) I would recommend giving them a follow and checking out their videos, their book, and whomever else they recommend following. They talk a lot about exactly what it is you’re feeling right now – that sense of loss from being rejected by family and the fear of being alone. I think you could find a lot of inspiration in their story and maybe even connect with others in their instagram community who might be feeling similarly. Jeffrey also offers one-on-one coaching, and you might benefit from speaking to them or someone else in the trans community who offers counseling or coaching for a unique perspective on the very issues you’re dealing with. I think it could be especially helpful to connect with people further along the path you’re on and hear what helped them reach a place where they could fully live as themselves, embrace and celebrate who they are, and create fulfilling lives for themselves.

The most important step you can take at this point though is to stop trying to connect with the very people who have rejected you. They don’t deserve to have you in their lives. They don’t deserve your attention and your effort, and they should not be given space to continue making you feel less than the extraordinary person you are. It’s their loss, not yours. If their love for you was conditional, it was never really yours to lose anyway. A deeper love exists for you, and if you can open yourself to that possibility – to the possibility that it may exist in a package you didn’t imagine and present itself in a way you haven’t experienced yet – I have faith you will find it.

***************
Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

7 comments… add one
  • Phoebe November 12, 2021, 11:06 am

    I will never, ever understand parents who are awful to their children. And it’s sadly all too common.

    To the letter writer: it’s natural to crave family and their approval. But if they are just going through the motions what are you really getting out of the relationship except for heartache? As Wendy said, find and make your own family. I know it’s easier said than done. But you deserve better than the one-sided relationship you have now.

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  • LisforLeslie November 12, 2021, 12:51 pm

    Goodness I want to give you a big hug, pat your head and tell you that it’s going to be OK.

    You need to create your own family. Consider joining LGBTQ support groups. If you’re religious, there are churches and temples that are very open and very welcoming and will hopefully give you a community you didn’t have before. Also, think about volunteering with older folks; there are many little older ladies who would be happy to have another granddaughter to share time with. Believe me, not everyone over the age of 70 is as narrow minded as your dad.

    Consider volunteering with local LGBTQ organizations. They will help you find a community and give back, which usually makes people feel more grounded and personally satisfied.

    Lastly, you deserve and can find love. Being a cis woman doesn’t mean you don’t get your share of toads. Oh my god the toads. So many toads. And you may have it harder than a cis woman. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible and it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a loving partner. It means you have to be as discerning and as wary as any other woman.

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    • Allornone November 12, 2021, 4:34 pm

      Amen.

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  • Redgirl November 13, 2021, 7:22 pm

    Oh LW, I also want to give you a big hug. Your letter made me feel so sad for you. I’m the mom of a transwoman myself, and I cannot imagine as a parent ever turning away from my own kid like that. Sadly, some people cannot manage to overcome their own prejudices. I’m so sorry your father and his family are some of them.

    My daughter found a community of trans folks at the university she went to. If you can afford it and you are near a university, maybe enroll in a class as an “in” to the college community. There is so much diversity and opportunity to join groups at universities, and you don’t usually have to be a full-time degree-seeking student to partake.

    Others have mentioned volunteer work, which is a great way to meet people (and most nonprofit orgs are progressive-leaning). Look into LGBTQ organizations near you, or if there are none, online. What are your hobbies and interests? Find a club or Meetup group and check them out.

    In short, take all the energy you are pouring into trying to find acceptance from your family and use it to explore the many other individuals and communities out there. It is not always easy to find your niche, but I promise you there ARE people out there who will enjoy and actively seek out your company, exactly the way you are.

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  • anonymousse November 14, 2021, 9:24 am

    I think the idea of enrolling in a class to open up your community is a great one. I’m so so sorry your family isn’t the one you deserve. You deserve love and acceptance. I also can’t imagine ever treating my own child that way. It’s terrible. You will find your people. People who love you back, unconditionally.

    I’m so sorry your family will never be the supportive and loving people you deserve. It’s not your fault, and if there’s one thing I hope you understand is that you don’t have to keep trying with them. You did. You made more than a valiant effort to keep a relationship going, despite how badly they treated you. And they are terrible. Stop putting in effort when they don’t meet you even halfway.

    I know you will find your people. Hold on and stay strong.

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  • FindingMyShine November 15, 2021, 11:59 am

    Oh, LW – my heart breaks for you. I have no advice other than what others in this forum are saying. Volunteering, looking for local support groups and organizations, and finding your chosen family. I have many people in my chosen family. All I can do is throw my support behind you and help lift you up. You are lovable, you ARE worthy of finding that love. I have been in therapy for several months now for an entirely unrelated reason than yours, but one of the things I am finally learning is how to love and accept myself (and I just turned 50). If you don’t love yourself, who you are at your core, then please work on that. You are deserving of that love too. “You, more than anyone in the universe, are deserving of your love and acceptance.” I have this on a tapestry, hanging on my closet door to remind myself every morning that I deserve my own love and acceptance.

    I am sending you hugs, and if others can dismiss you without really knowing you, I can love you without knowing you. You would be welcome in my life with open arms and an open heart. You will find others who will do the same.

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  • MP November 16, 2021, 10:56 am

    Sending you so much warmth OP! I hope you find the wonderful chosen family you deserve.

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