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Coming out to Mom: A Few Years After

A transgender woman looks at her relationship with her mother a few years after coming out to her. – The Weekly Rant with Mila Madison

I remember the day I came out to my mother. I am sure she had heard the term transgender before, but I am also sure that she really had no idea what that really meant. It is not easy to tell the woman who clothed, fed, and raised you that the son she thought she had all these years is actually her daughter, but in my heart I knew she would accept me, even if she didn’t truly understand it.

In the perfect scenario, my mother would have immediately understood me. She would have told me that she wanted to do all the things we never got to do as mother and daughter. She would be proud of who I was, and wouldn’t care what other people thought or said about me. I would be the daughter she always wanted, and we would do all these great things together. Our relationship would grow stronger than it ever had before, and we would make up for the time we lost as mother and daughter.

“UP UNTIL THE MOMENT YOU SAY TO YOUR MOTHER, ‘I AM TRANSGENDER,’ YOU ONLY HAVE AN IDEA IN YOUR HEAD OF HOW IT MAY OR MAY NOT TURN OUT.”

I am sure this scenario may have actually occurred somewhere in the world where a transgender girl came out to her mother. At least I hope it has, but for most of us it is extremely complicated and often times a painful process. Up until the moment you say to your mother, “ I am transgender,” you only have an idea in your head of how it may or may not turn out. For some of us, it may be the last time we ever speak with our mothers. Some mothers respond with total denial, some are accepting, and some may need some time to process what you are telling them before they begin to understand.

For the most part, things went pretty well when I came out to my mother. At first there was some denial. Her attempts to convince me that I wasn’t transgender were strange to say the least. “But you were always so sensitive,” she said. “Yes!” I responded. “But I was always able to talk to you in ways I couldn’t with your father or brother,” she said. “Exactly!” I responded. Yes, it was a strange conversation, but that is my mother if you knew her. I confessed to her how I would raid her closet as a kid when no one was looking or she was out of the house. Instead of shock or disappointment, she simply said, “Well what did you like?” At that moment, I knew we would be okay, but it was going to take some time. I started to help her to understand what being transgender actually was. Luckily for me, my wife was with me and helped us both through the moment. I am not sure if it was my mom or me who left the conversation more confused, but it was the beginning of our journey together as mother and daughter.

Often times, I tend to be in a rush with my own transition. It is because I feel I only have a half of a life to live, and I don’t want to waste any more time. What I am learning is that my mother is also transitioning and that I need to let her go through her own process. As much as I try to speed it up, in the end it will happen at her own pace. In the beginning, the misgendering was horrible. I even avoided her so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, but eventually I learned that I needed to be around to help her with her own process. Now that it has been a few years, things have been better than they were in the beginning. Though she will still slip up on occasion, she gets my name and pronouns right. Holiday gifts are women’s clothes, scarves, or perfume. We discuss our lives as two women, and she is able to impart her wisdom when it comes to steps I am taking in my transition. Our relationship has evolved, and we have realized for the most part our bond was always that of a mother and daughter, even if she didn’t exactly raise me that way. We are both growing in this newly defined relationship.

Regardless of whether a mother accepts you or not, they will go through a period of transition as well. For a mother who is open minded and accepting, it is a faster process. For those who turn their backs on their child or refuse to accept the fact that they are transgender, they are still transitioning whether they acknowledge that fact or not. In this case, they may forever live in denial, but they still have to find a way to process that information. For them it is still a matter of transition wherever that road leads.

“TO THIS DAY, I AM NOT SURE IF MY MOTHER SEES ME AS HER DAUGHTER OR HER SON WHO IS TRANSGENDER.”

To this day, I am not sure if my mother sees me as her daughter or her son who is transgender. I am not sure if she has told the people she works with or if she has told all of her friends. What I do know is that in time she will even if she hasn’t already. I realize I need to let her do these things at her own pace, for the sake of her own transition. I spent a lifetime coming to terms with accepting myself. I can’t expect her to do it overnight, or even over a year. Looking back now I can say that our mother and daughter relationship has grown, but it is still a work in progress. Though I hope one day my mother will want to make up for all the lost time we missed, we still have not reached that point in this journey. Though it may never happen, it is still my wish. As it is with all relationships, it is a two way street. I need to do my part to grow this relationship. What I do know is that my mother loves me unconditionally as I do her, and for that I am lucky.

Relationships with a parent can sometimes be difficult whether you are transgender or not. Some people do not have a mother or may have lost one. Some daughters just don’t see eye to eye with their mothers. Problems in a mother-daughter relationship are not exclusive to us, but they are certainly complicated whether we are accepted or not. I am not sure if I will ever truly be the daughter my mother always wanted, but we will have to see where this journey leads us. In the end, all you can do is love and hope that things work out. What I do know is I would rather be in a relationship with a mother who is having difficulty accepting me than one where I am pretending to be her son.

Wishing all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!

Love and Peace,

Mila Madison

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