Celebrations at the end of the year, be they with religious meaning or not, could be beautiful and something to look forward to. It´s always nice to slow down and look back at what went great this year; things that didn´t go well could become good plans for next year.
Good food, family, presents, and laughter often make it a lovely season, but not for everyone. Trans folks and their closest loved ones who haven´t come out to their extended families or friends can see themselves needing to disclose, especially if transitioning changes took place that makes it impossible to hide.
And there´s the religious factor, which for some people is a matter of celebration this time of the year and a good source of support for their lives. Religion has very different views about gender diversity, from being entirely against it to some that get and accept it, yet there´s still much work to be done when most of them don´t support gender diversity.
But don´t give up on your family or religion just yet; in both cases, assertive communication is critical, which means choosing the right timing, having the correct information planned, going with the right attitude, and knowing that you have science and knowledge on your side.
If you or your kiddo need to come out, it’s better to explain to your family before the celebrations take place so you don´t catch them by surprise, announcing that your kid will transition when Grandpa is about to ceremoniously cut the turkey for the 50 people that attended Christmas dinner. For the sake of maintaining more control over the situation, it´s much better to include others in your kid’s transition one-on-one rather than announcing it to a group of people, especially if you still don´t know how they will react.
Explain calmly but firmly what it is to be trans, the situation with your kid, and expect them to have some questions. Explain the importance of the family´s support for your kid´s mental health and well-being. This also gives you an opportunity to teach others some basics like using correct pronouns, proper language, avoiding embarrassing or inappropriate questions at family gatherings, and recognizing and avoiding giving gendered gifts.
Some families will also send out a letter to extended family with an unapologetic announcement about the amazing gender journey they’re on that includes clear guidance on how they are expected to interact and behave with their child.
Telling others will always have to be agreed upon with your child, who will set the pace for coming out. There´ll be good and bad surprises. You might have to skip a gathering altogether if you are concerned that it´d be unsafe or uncomfortable for your family, and that sucks, but at least you know.
With religion, there have been some changes, at least in some factions, that have become more accepting and are willing to support you. Of course, we cannot generalize here because each religion has a specific view on gender diversity. Still, you can always use the same strategy to talk to the person responsible for your local place of worship or someone there whom you can trust. Explaining with the help of solid arguments and establishing respectful communication can go a long way.
Remember that up to 2% of the population is gender diverse, and the numbers are growing, making it harder for some to ignore much longer. We´ve come a long way if you think about it. Just a generation ago, things that are possible now were unthinkable, and things are moving exponentially faster now. What could look like a burden today could be an opportunity to speak for the community and benefit people you don´t know. Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a catalyst for starting a new group for gender diverse people and their families at your local place of worship.