Should I always explain to people that my child has come out as non-binary?
My child was born a girl. As a young adult, they came out as bi-sexual and last year as non-binary.
When friends and acquaintances ask how my child is doing, or when I’m sharing my family situation with people I work with, I find myself hesitating and then deciding what to disclose.
Often, I explain that she is now non-binary. I get one of three responses: People either seem interested and supportive. Or they say, “Oh,” and move on, making me unsure what their emotional response is. Or, only once, someone expressed opposition to the idea that not everyone is clearly either a male or a female.
Sometimes I choose not to disclose that my child is non-binary. I seem to do this when I think it may be too jarring or confusing to the person I’m talking to, or I just want to keep things simple. Then, I just refer to them as she.
But when I do this, I feel I’m letting my child down by avoiding the topic just to avoid potential social awkwardness, thereby missing an opportunity to make one tiny step toward normalizing non-binary people in our society.
Should I feel free to disclose or not disclose, depending on the situation or should I be more committed to speaking openly about my child’s gender identity whenever the topic comes up in conversation?
I’m close with my child and will of course discuss this with her but I’m interested in your perspective.
A Parent’s Dilemma
It’s your child’s perspective that matters most here. I believe you know this in your heart and that you’re trying to demonstrate your support through these responses to others.
A “young adult” could be any age from 16 to early-20s. Having changed their own sexual identity from bi-sexual to non-binary over the course of a year, this is the definition to which they relate. It’s the correct answer to anyone who asks or whom you feel you must answer.
It’s clear that you’re close to your child, from the concern you have over choosing your response.
Oher than for the purpose of expressing the information that your child considers is accurate, your hesitation is unnecessary. It doesn’t matter what another’s “emotional response” to the information is. If negative, or the start of a debate, change the topic, or simply agree to disagree.
You need not hesitate in responding nor analyze your hesitation.
Your efforts toward “normalizing non-binary people in our society,” are proof of your deeply caring support.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who felt sexually rejected (March 11):
“Ellie wrote, “Once you’ve covered these bases, know that you’ll most likely leave this man.”
“The past two pandemic years have been hard on everyone. Many people have gotten into ruts. I think this guy just needs a “wake up call.”
“I agree with Ellie regarding the woman seeing a divorce lawyer for education and information about what divorce entails.
“Then, she should tell her husband exactly how desperate she feels and what choice she’s prepared to make.
“One of two things would then happen: He will either realize what he’s about to lose and take appropriate action. Or he’ll say goodbye.”
Ellie - This husband not only avoided sexual contact with his wife, but also blamed her for being slow to climax while he performed “slam-bang.” There’s no common ground there.
FEEDBACK Regarding the young widow’s stepson (March 12):
Reader – “He calls her after midnight and whispers so his wife doesn't hear, making her feel uncomfortable and also scared.
“He calls her while driving, suggesting he come over. You advised that she get a lawyer's letter sent to insist he cease attempts to be alone with her. And you wrote that he needs counselling.
“His father’s gone, so legally he’s nothing to her and he’s an adult.
“You should’ve said that if he keeps bothering her, she’ll call his wife and tell her. And that she’ll call the police and report him for harassment.”
Ellie - In Ontario family law, as example, a “lawyer’s letter” is a legal document in which the stepson would be told that, if his behaviour continues, he could face a judge in court.
Also, revealing the man’s behaviour to his wife might end his marriage and cause a reaction using force.
Tip of the day:
Supporting an adult child’s major decisions is how parents and offspring stay connected.