Being transgender is hard enough during the year, but it can rise to a whole other level during the holidays. Whether you are out, hiding who you are, or going stealth, the holiday season may increase your anxiety. Even though you may have avoided family most of the year, there are events you can’t avoid. There are family gatherings and holiday parties that you have to attend.
You have worked hard over the past year to accept yourself. Your family may not understand your gender identity or be open to learning about who you are. You still have a ways to go in your growth, but your need to be accepted as your true self by your family is normal. Even though you want acceptance, it can be tough to deal with family during the holidays. Here are five tips that will help you get through this challenging time of the year.
1. Keep your expectations realistic
A quick way to feel disappointed is to have unrealistic expectations of your family members. Be realistic in anticipating how they will be. This will help you better prepare to spend time with them. Any positive talk or acknowledgment of your growth will be a bonus, just don’t expect it.
2. Remember that this too shall pass
In the middle of your anxiety fueled time with your family it can be difficult to remember that it will be over soon. Take a deep breath and remember that this is just a season you are in and it will pass. You will not be in this headspace or place forever. Grounding yourself with this realization can help dial down your anxiety at the moment.
3. See how far you have come this year
Even though it may not feel like it, you have come far in your growth over the past year. You probably don’t give yourself enough credit for the steps you have taken. Sure it would be nice if your family acknowledged how well you are doing and progressing, however, it may not happen. Your ability to see and recognize your growth will fuel you during this time.
4. Expect someone to slip on a pronoun or name
If you are expecting that at least one person will use an incorrect pronoun or the wrong name you can prepare how you will handle it. Even though you know the difference in someone being malicious or a genuine mistake, it doesn’t make it easier to go through. Planning a response or reply ahead of time can help decrease your anxiety.
5. You decide who you let in
You may be closer with your chosen family versus the family you were born into. You get to decide who you let into your inner circle and who you kick out. Your behavior and actions are the only things you have control over. However, you can’t control who shows up at holiday gatherings. Remember that you don’t have to be around them forever, just during this time. As you remind yourself that you have a chosen family, you will see an increase in your patience and a decrease in your anxiety when you are with the family you didn’t want.
Ultimately, you decide whether or not to attend family gatherings during the holiday. I encourage you to give it a try and practice your coping skills. Don’t worry how your family will behave because you can remove yourself at any time. You can leave if you feel uncomfortable or your anxiety becomes too much. You are in control of yourself and your life. You will get through this holiday season and will have more evidence of just how strong you are.