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Celebrate Your Kid’s Transition. Don’t Grieve It.

There was the trans man whose parents continued to display pictures of him as a beautiful girl all around their house, or the trans woman who described how her transition was a celebration for her but was a funeral for her wife. There are personal essays, podcast episodes and articles that focus on the reactions of spouses, partners and family members of trans people grieving over their transitions.

What is often left unspoken is that a trans person is expected to provide emotional support through this grieving process. My father has repeatedly said I should always be grateful he supported me when other parents wouldn’t. Yet I’ve come to find it deeply unfair that trans people are often left with the burden of assuaging their loved ones’ grief.

Not only does this expectation posit that being transgender is a trans person’s fault, but it also fails to account for the fact that transitioning is likely to be many times more difficult for the trans person than for any loved one. Most important, grief as a reaction to transition is a form of transphobia; it reduces a person’s very being to their gender, and reveals that a loved one cares more about a phantom image than for the trans person they supposedly love, who is right in front of them.

We often have to tolerate these expressions of grief, knowing well that we would not receive the same level of empathy for our struggles, because we live in a world that affirms the feelings of cisgender people while rejecting our own.

The first step toward just consideration of trans people is for our loved one to deal with their negative feelings about our transition as far away from us as possible. Whether they seek solace from their own friends, a support group or a professional therapist, it is ultimately their responsibility, and not ours, to deal with their grief. Expecting us to comfort them promotes the transphobic idea that cisgender people’s feelings must be prioritized over ours, even when we are clearly dealing with so much more, and those expressions of grief are harmful to us.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/18/opinion/gender-transition-death-grief.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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