Use my name, Mom!

My parents know that I’m transgender but my mom still has trouble using my preferred name.

Give her time, says our elder. It sounds like she’s trying to adjust.

Dear EWC

I’m a transgender man. That means I was born a female, but I identify as male. I’m just a guy that was born a little different. I’m turning 21 soon and have been out to my parents for three years. My father is getting the hang of my name, but still struggles with pronouns. Understandable and I’m really lenient with him. My mother, though, doesn’t make any effort. She only makes an effort if my partner is with me, or my brothers. It makes me feel disrespected, like she doesn’t care about what makes me feel bad. She’s always been a bit inconsiderate, but I really don’t know what to do about this. It’s awkward and embarrassing. No one in my life calls me by my birth name anymore except her and people who don’t know I have a preferred name.

Mama-Joan replies

When I read your letter, I read so much that was positive about how your family is adjusting to your identity. I understand your frustrations with your mother, but I encourage you to consider that every 21 years old have frustrations with their parents and to try to ignore your mother’s lack of “effort” to use your name. The fact that she does make an effort when you are with your partner or your brother, shows she is aware and is trying to be considerate albeit inconsistently.

If is a very difficult time for parents when their children mature and become adults. Not only are our children becoming independent, but we must learn to let go of the authority and influence that we have in their lives. I believe, in time, your mother will adjust to your name, but right now, she is trying to hold on to the old you just a bit longer. It is natural. Give her time and simply turn a deaf ear when she doesn’t say your name.

Your situation makes me think about my husband when he was your age. His name is Eric, but when he was growing up his family called him “Rick” or “Ricky”… he was never known by Eric. But, when he went to college he started to use the name, Eric. And, when I met him, I never knew him by anything but Eric. Once his family realized that he had switched to Eric, they tried to adjust, mostly because I (his wife) would call him Eric. They were inconsistent and never fully adjusted to using Eric. To this day, 43 years later, his brother calls him Rick! I’m suggesting to you that old habits die hard. Your mother may fully realize that she should call you by your preferred name, but every time she goes to say your name she has to make a mental shift from your given name. (I do understand, too, how important the use of your name is to your identity.)

Count your blessings and be patient. From what I read in your letter, your parents are supportive of you and are trying to adjust. That says a lot.

I hope my advice is helpful to you. Please feel free to write again anytime.

Letter #: 439733
Category: Family

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