Your friends know about your sexuality and gender choices, and even the people you work with do. Why can’t you just come out and tell your parents?

You have your reasons

Parent child relationships are really the most complicated ones there are, even without the added stress of being a different sex or gender than your parent thinks you are.

So there can be all sorts of reasons that you haven’t told your parents. And they are all valid.

If you are still trying to figure out what your hesitancy is, consider these common reasons for keeping your sex and gender choice to yourself.

1. You don’t want to be rejected.

Feeling rejected is not fun for anyone. If you suspect that due to religion, culture, or conservative viewpoints, your parents might reject you? Or 'punish' you in some way, such as removing privileges or financial support? Then you might feel safer not coming out right now.

2. They might not reject you, but you would handle it very badly if they did.

Have you had a tough time lately? Felt depressed, suffered anxiety, gone through any sort of difficult experience? Or just finding to tough to navigate your identity issues and feeing fragile?

If there is a chance that your parents rejecting you, or even just saying stupid things, might push you further emotionally and psychologically than you can currently handle? It's a valid reason to not come out right now.

3. Your family is not open about anything.

You are from a family that never, ever discusses things. Not emotions, not tough experiences, and certainly not your private life. Even if you were the most heteronormative cisgender person on the planet you would not be sharing your sex and dating life with them.

So for you, sharing your sexual and gender choices would be seriously traumatic because it is so far from the level of comfort you have with family members.

4. You aren’t yet sure yourself about things.

Maybe you are still exploring and figuring out your identity. It doesn’t feel right to tell your parents as then you’d have to label it and put it in a box. When you don't know what box you fit in or if there is a box at all.

5. You don’t want to put the focus on your sex or gender.

Have a very liberal, accepting family, and yet still feel hesitant to come out to your parents?

Sometimes the issue is that we simply don’t want the other person to stop seeing us as we are, and instead just see our sex or gender choice.

We don’t want the way we are treated to change, and we suspect it will. That the other person will make too big of a fuss, or too many changes, or be so excited it will be all they talk about. We like the way things are. And that's okay.

6. You don’t trust your parent(s) to protect your privacy.

Just because your want to come out to your parents doesn’t mean you want to come out to your extended family or the entire community at large.

If your parents aren’t good at keeping secrets, and you don’t trust they will allow you to reveal your life choices in the way you want? But might try to take over, or tell you how to do things? It's understandable you are hesitating.

7. You just have a bad feeling.

Sometimes we need to trust ourselves. If something in you feels it’s not the right timing, then it isn’t. There is no deadline to when you have to do this. It’s totally up to you if and when.

Just because your friends told their parents already doesn’t mean you have to. Or because some star you admire did. You need to listen to yourself here, and do what feels right to you personally. Nobody else.

When you definitely should NOT come out to your parents

If there is any chance you will be hurt or put in harms way by either parent for being open about your sexuality or gender, or that they might then tell someone who would have an intent to harm you? The risk is not worth it, no matter how great your desire to do so. You must think of your own safety.

To clarify, it is not a good idea to come out to your parents if they:

  • have ever threatened to hurt you if you were gay or transgender
  • say terrifying things about gay or transgender people
  • are associated with a group of people or an individual who would hurt someone who is gay or transgender
  • could withdraw the things you need to survive (food, housing, safety).

So why would I tell them?

Still struggling to decide? It can help to reverse the question. Why DO people come out? Those with familes who are supportive and accepting have reasons such as:

  • not wanting to have to have secrets
  • feeling more relaxed and open at home
  • solidifying their sense of identity
  • suffering less anxiety and worry
  • feeling supported
  • bringing home a partner.

Sure that telling your parents would not result in any of this? Then stop beating yourself up for not being able to do so right now.

Do I have to tell my parents?

This is your life, not theirs. No matter how much you love your parents, you are the one living your life and dealing with all the consequences of what you do. So there is no ‘should’ here. It’s truly a personal choice.

Some people wait to tell their parents until their own life is established. They have their own finances, home, and social support as a backup, and know that no matter what their parents response, they will be okay.

And some people never feel safe coming out to their parents. It's not an option for them. It becomes about focusing on navigating how they makes you feel and practising self-care. You might want to also consider reaching out to others who hare navigating a double life and understand what you are going through.

Still have no idea what to do?

Struggle to hear your own mind and feelings? And really wish you had someone to talk to?

Consider talking to a therapist. They do not tell you what to do. But they listen very carefully, and ask just the right questions so that you gain clarity, understand your thoughts and emotions, and find your own answers.

Want to talk to someone who gets it? Find a therapist now who specialises in sexuality and gender identity issues.

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