The only thing that matters when coming out to your kids is that the you’re comfortable. Children pick up on that.
My children have two parents, both bi+ and one trans.
I am a trans man who had children after transitioning and after coming out as bi+,
There was no singular moment when I came out to my kids as bi+. It is an ongoing discussion about identity. It is never too early or late in the scheme of things.
My kids have grown up learning about the LGBTQ community.
Being open with my children has allowed conversations to be had and pop up questions to be answered truthfully and privately if needed.
They have family who are trans, bi+, flaming queens and gender benders! They have grown up learning about and embedded in the LGBTQ community.
All kids react differently to these conversations.
My older daughter went to a school named after a gay icon and enjoys learning through ongoing conversations.
My young son goes to an affirming school but hasn’t had the same drive to ask questions.
Just this morning he asked me about my ‘Mighty Trans’ t-shirt. I had to discuss what trans meant again in ways that a seven-year-old would understand.
It was a quick conversation where we talked about why I was wearing the t-shirt and when over he went back to eating breakfast.
‘Lead with love’
For those who have never broached the subject before or have older children, you might have a lot to say to them. Jotting all your ideas on paper before starting the conversations might work to gather your thoughts.
Lead with love and children will respond similarly.
It might takes some digesting for older kids. They are figuring out where they fit into all of this.
Especially when transitions come with coming out.
Divorce and break-ups can happen, and coming out can signal considerable changes in your children’s lives.
Stereotypes of trans or bi+ folks might be in the forefront of their thoughts. They may have questions that make you uncomfortable, but break down the stereotypes! Let them know you are the same person who will love them forever.
Give them options of supportive adults they can talk things out with.
My children had their aunts Emily and Lindasusan, who are also bi+.
They are a great sounding board for our daughter who is terminally embarrassed by my trans and bi+ work in the community, and her mother’s queer activism.
This is an important space where she can complain about us and feel heard.
It is really important to listen to your children’s concerns!
When they don’t want to come out to others in their school and friend groups, they may have to work up their own courage to come out for you in those spaces.
Remember, they are going through this with you and will have to come out as your child.
As we all know, queer parents do not equal queer kids.
When we come out to our children, they may not come out to us later on. But, if we can model a respectful exchange, it will help them no matter what their identity later in life.
Identities shift over time, your children may experience that shift as they grow. Be open to the questions and honest with the answers.
Keep it short, sweet and simple. Our family is ready to accept our children no matter what their gender or sexuality is in the future. We need that acceptance from them when we dialogue, and we need to give it to them when they need it most.
Another is to start making friends with people similar situations!
The biggest part of this new equation is to have them spend time with other queerspawn (an affectionate term for the kids of LGBTQ folks).
‘Show them they aren’t alone’
Some of our kids greatest friends are in their same situation.
They may have dads, or moms or a family like ours with a mixed gender bi+ or queer couple, or one or more trans parents.
When you give them the option of having friends in similar situations, it shows them that they aren’t alone.
Trans, bi+, lesbian or gay parents with kids are everywhere. I am sure that you can probably find one or two families to have dinner with and let your kids hang out.
We also belong to a faith community that is predominantly LGBTQ and has a specifically queer history from its founding and forward.
Children are mentored through their B’nei Mitzvah process by older adults, many of whom are queer in some way.
It brings meaning to all of our lives to have this connection to the history of our synagogue, and our children get to see people being people.
Living their lives embedded in a religious community and being true to themselves.
There isn’t a book out there with all the explanations yet, especially for bi+ parents.
But, hopefully, we can use these tips to come out to our children in meaningful ways that bring us closer as families.
Martin Rawlings-Fein is a bi+ Jewish trans man, parent, and educator running for the San Francisco School Board in November 2018.