So the holidays can be hard for many reasons, and many people, but I cannot imagine a worse holiday than one where you are constantly mis-gendered and invalidated. One where you cannot be yourself. Therefore, I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks which will hopefully help over the festive season and whilst with family.
Tip 1: If you need to order binders or packers or anything, then now is the time to buy/order it.
Of course there is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed about buying these things, but if you are not out yet or have family members against your ‘new’ identity then you can order literally anything online and if someone asks what the package is just say ‘it’s a secret’ and they will assume it’s a gift.
Tip 2: Don’t allow people to continually mis-gender you.
People will forget. It’s a horrible truth, but chances are over the holidays your distant relatives who visit or that Grandma with a dodgy memory will forget your chosen name and may mis-gender you. Binary and cis people may not realise just how upsetting this is and this can be really hard to deal with, but try not to get upset or angry, simply correct them. This is of course up to you, you may choose to let it slide, but just correcting someone and gently reminding them will remind them and hopefully they’ll remember next time. Sidenote: if you have a friend or family member who is on board with your transition and happy to help, then ask them to correct people too if it happens.
Tip 3: Educate friends and family.
Perhaps for stocking fillers or Christmas presents buy someone (whether they are struggling with your identity or not) a book about being transgender. It could be an autobiography from a trans* perspective, a fiction that features someone non-binary or a guide/ informative book which will explain all their questions. This present may not be that wanted by them, but chances are they’ll have questions and this is a good way to help them understand.
Tip 4: Come out in stages.
When coming out – whether it’s as gay, bi, trans or anything – it can be tempting to change your appearance and everything, now you can finally be who you are. But you’ll get a lot of questions. And that’s fine! But you might not want that, or be ready to answer them all yet. So if this is the case over the holidays can be a good chance for you to gradually come whilst you’re surrounded by the people who need to know. Whether you get a haircut but still dress the same, or begin to dress in different clothes but continue to answer to your birth name, changing to your true self gradually might help people get to grips with the real you as a slow transformation instead of a sudden switch. (It might also result in less questions while allowing you to feel a bit more comfortable.)
Tip 5: Accept people may not understand, and have a support group.
Sadly people may not all understand or be tolerant. Even if they want to be, they may just find it hard. Some people – especially the older generation – simply don’t get LGBT* identities and won’t accept them. This doesn’t mean give up correcting them if they say something wrong or offensive, but you need to choose your battles and maybe yelling at grandparents over the turkey isn’t one which will win you many friends. So whilst it’s good to be yourself and be bold and proud about it, prepare yourself for comments and questions and people not understanding straight away. Make sure you have a support group – there are loads of online communities, or a close friend or relative – who you can talk to and get support from if something is difficult.
I hope these tips have helped, and most importantly, stay safe over the holidays. You are beautiful and brave and you deserve to be happy and have a great Christmas.