Hello, friends. My name’s Stephen LaConte, I’m a writer here at BuzzFeed, and according to my friends and family, I’m pretty darn good at giving advice.
So I’ve invited the world to message me on Instagram and Twitter (@StephenLC in both places) with your biggest problems — and I’m solving ’em right here on BuzzFeed, one DM at a time. Let’s get right to it.
Today, we’ve got this woman, whose boyfriend recently came out as trans and is pressuring her to tell her “quite conservative” family about it:
I don’t know whether you should tell your family about your boyfriend’s transition, but I do know this: Deciding not to tell them — even if that’s ultimately the right decision — will likely spell the end of your relationship.
Realistically, it’s hard to see a path forward with your boyfriend if your family can’t know that he’s transitioning. He’s made it abundantly clear that telling them is important to him, and he shouldn’t have to stay closeted in any part of his life if he doesn’t want to.
And any actions you might take to hide his transition from your family — like not inviting him to holidays, or asking him to present himself as male for such occasions, or using the wrong pronouns when you talk about him — could inflict serious (and in some cases, life-threatening) damage on him. Please don’t do that. Your boyfriend wants to live his life openly, and it’s vitally important that you honor that decision, no matter what you do next.
None of this is to say that you have to tell your family, though. The repercussions you describe if you tell them — being “completely isolated” from everyone you know — are severe and worth considering carefully. I’m so sorry your family has put both of you in such a difficult, unfair position.
Of course, I want to say, “Just tell your family the truth!” — but I know that in certain situations, that is simply not possible to do safely. There could be serious long-term consequences (emotional, financial, etc.) that put your health and well-being at risk if you tell them, and it’s valid if you simply aren’t in a position to take those risks on.
In the long term, this might mean that the two of you will need to break up. Not because either of you did anything wrong — but because the things that each of you need moving forward might no longer be compatible. And that’s okay. It happens in many relationships.
Here’s the good news, though: This is not a decision you have to make today. If your relationship is otherwise solid, I think it makes sense to give yourself at least the summer to figure things out. This allows you to be there for your boyfriend as he starts hormone replacement therapy, and gives you some time and space to evaluate whether there’s any reasonable path forward to tell your family about this.
If you do take the summer to decide, I think you and your boyfriend should agree to keep conversations about the future to a minimum. You say that he gets “impatient and upset” whenever the topic of telling your family comes up. And while some level of anxiety on his part is perfectly understandable, he shouldn’t be pressuring you to make major, consequential life decisions before you’re ready. That’s not fair to you.
Instead of hashing these things out with each other, I highly recommend that both of you find LGBTQ-friendly therapists in your area to help you navigate these coming months. Whether you decide to go together or separately, I think getting some professional counseling could be really beneficial right now. You both have tough decisions ahead, and you shouldn’t have to make them alone.
I’m gonna end this advice by flagging one thing you said at the end of your DM, about how there are “many other reasons” you’re struggling in the relationship. You don’t say what those “other reasons” are, but for the record: If you’re feeling like this is simply not a relationship you want to be in, for any reason, it’s okay to walk away from it. You owe your partner respect, empathy, and care in this vulnerable time. But you do not owe him a romantic relationship if the situation is no longer right for you.
TL;DR: You need to respect your boyfriend’s decision to be fully, 100% out of the closet. He needs to respect your decision as to whether it’s safe to tell your family. So give yourselves some time and space to figure out what’s next — and if at all possible, enlist a therapist to help. Good luck.
That’s all the advice I’m giving today, folks, but if you’ve got any words of wisdom for our DMer, please share them in the comments. And if YOU have a problem that you want fixed in front of thousands of Internet strangers, DM me! I’m @StephenLC on Instagram and @StephenLC on Twitter. Just be sure to read the rules below first. See you in the DMs!