How to support your trans loved ones during the holiday season
With the holiday season approaching, many family members are reuniting for the first time since lockdown, which can be both exciting and emotional for many. But for transgender folks, going back home can be complicated and overwhelming, especially if it's their first time back since coming out.
Being supportive of your trans family member (whether it's your own child, siblings, parents, or another relative) during the holidays can make all the difference for them. No matter how much or how little you understand your trans family member's gender identity, it's vital to ensure they are returning to a safe space.
If you need some guidance on how to make your trans family member feel more comfortable during the holiday season, here are a few tips:
- Respect their pronouns
Pronouns play a significant role in a trans person's identity. By addressing them by their proper pronouns, you are validating both their identity and experience. If you are unsure of what pronouns they use, there's no harm in asking. Some trans folks will stick to one type of pronoun, like she/her, he/him, they/them, etc., and some may use multiple or all pronouns. No one trans experience is the same, so why or how someone chooses to use their pronoun shouldn't be up for debate. While it may be confusing to other family members, make sure you set an example addressing your trans guest by their correct pronouns.
- Encourage dialogue
If your trans guest is coming to your home for the first time since coming out, use this opportunity to encourage a dialogue about their relationship to their gender identity. But be sure not to force the conversation or bombard them with a string of questions as it can be overwhelming, especially if they are newly out. But whenever they are ready to talk about their gender identity, keep your ears and your hearts open, listen to what they want to say, and offer the support they need.
- Avoid any intrusive or sensitive questions
It's also important to avoid asking any intrusive questions during any discussions and discourage other family members from doing so too. These inappropriate questions can be whether they plan on going through affirmation treatment or even anything to do with their genitalia. Even if you are or others are genuinely curious, just be mindful of sensitive topics. Instead, allow them the space to bring up the subject themselves or just leave it alone.
- Accept them for who they are
Above all, remember to accept and love the person for who they are. If you genuinely care for your trans family member, all you need to do is let them know that you accept them for who they are and love them unconditionally. Even if you think they may already know it, telling them directly will mean the world to them. Day-to-day living can be difficult for many trans folks, but if they have a safe space to return to, where they are accepted and validated, coming home for the holidays will be a rewarding experience.