This collaborative narrative examines the personal experiences of children coming out to their parents as transgender. One author uses autoethnography to share her experience from a parent’s perspective, and one author utilizes fiction to relay his experience from the child’s perspective. This collaboration revealed that not all parents react negatively, and even those who may respond negatively when they first learn of their child’s gender identity may grow to understand and accept them over time; empathy toward the other will help both sides in these difficult contexts. In addition to the therapeutic benefits of writing, writing as a tool offers children a helpful conduit for approaching these difficult discussions; and fiction writing, in particular, can offer children the distance to help them feel safe in approaching a sensitive subject and allow them the freedom to imagine positive futures living as their authentic selves.
“It’s a Boy”: Writing as a Conduit for Coming Out to Parents
Angela Matthews works as a course operations specialist in the Center for Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan and spent several years teaching undergraduate research and writing. She also facilitates a support group for children grieving the death of loved ones. Her research interests include bereavement support as well as utilizing writing as both therapy and method to uncover how we feel about past experiences, process the trauma of those experiences, learn from them, and find ways to move forward despite those traumas.
Adam Wiesner is a nonbinary-identified autoethnographer, social anthropologist, and collaborative and queer-affirmative therapist. His interests include the synthesis of queer / mad / monster studies, reflexivity, postmodern therapy, and evolutionary astrology as a symbolic language.
Angela Matthews, Adam Wiesner; “It’s a Boy”: Writing as a Conduit for Coming Out to Parents. Journal of Autoethnography 1 July 2023; 4 (3): 330–347. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2023.4.3.330
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