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Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Dating a Trans Guy; Should I Tell My Parents?

Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Dating a Trans Guy; Should I Tell My Parents?

Dearest Auntie,

I have the kind of problem that you're most likely to see in soap operas or Disney movies, which is kind of cheesy but not so amusing when it happens in real life: I'm secretly dating someone. Bad situation, but not dire, right? Well, there's another thing too, something that my very strongly Catholic parents wouldn't like: he's a transsexual male.

My parents are vehemently opposed to homosexuality, and when I've tried approaching them about topics like this, they always say the same thing: that it's wrong and I should never think it's okay because that's an act against God.

My boyfriend and I are both kind of bothered (to say the least) about the whole situation and I feel like I'm stuck. Should I tell my parents? I feel like that could only end in being forbidden to see each other, and I'm not really for the Romeo-Juliet style running away type thing. I'm so scared of being separated from him, I care about him so much, and I don't know if telling my parents is the right thing to do or if I should wait until I'm out of the house (I'll be a senior in high school next year.)

I'm terrified of disappointing my parents, Auntie, and I feel like one of the worst parts about telling them would be having them treat me like I'm disgusting for dating a transsexual... They're always telling me how bad homosexuality is, and I used to believe them. But since I've met my boyfriend, I realized how wrong I was. And if they find out that I've changed my view on that, I can't even imagine what they'll do to me. I'm so scared.

Fun fact: if we gave out awards for Most Complicated and Sensitive Question Ever, this one would win, hands down. Seriously, y'all, my brain is currently making that bzzzzz fzzzzz noise that lightbulbs make right before the filament blows.

So, let's do this before I burn out my head, shall we?

To begin with, you describe your secret sweetie as a transsexual male: someone who identifies as male, who prefers male pronouns, who is definitively male in every way except anatomically. Yes? So while your parents might disapprove of gay relationships... well, hey, you're not in one. Your boyfriend might be biologically female, but he's a guy—and as long as he presents as one, there's no reason why your parents, or anyone else for that matter, need to be told otherwise. The private details of what's in a person's pants aren't meant to be public knowledge, under any circumstances.

So if you really feel that you must tell your parents you're dating, then perhaps you can give them the expurgated version: you're seeing someone, and that someone is a guy.

...That is, if your boyfriend passes as male, and is comfortable doing so. But if not, then you're in one hell of a bind, sweet pea. Because you know you're straight, and I know you're straight—but people who don't know (or people, like your parents, who are likely to reject the idea that trans is a legitimate thing) are going to look at you two and say, "Lesbians."

Which is fine, if you can deal with it. But if you can't, then you don't have much choice but to keep your relationship under the radar.

But that's okay, and it's not the most terrible thing in the world, either. Think of it as a decision you've made together: to date not in secret, but in private, for the sake of enjoying your relationship without bogging it down in a mire of labels and judgments and questions. That is a legitimate choice, and one you're perfectly entitled to. You don't have to disclose every crush or introduce every date for parental approval, and you certainly wouldn't be the first teenager in a same-sex (or same-sex-appearing) relationship to tell your folks that the guy (or girl) you're snogging on a daily basis is "just a good friend." In fact, that's a common practice for preserving any relationship, queer or otherwise, that might otherwise by squashed by disapproving parents. If you love someone for good reasons, and your parents would hate him for stupid ones, then the obvious choice is to keep things under wraps.

And that goes double when revealing your relationship would mean, for all intents and purposes, coming out of the closet.

Because you might not be gay, but you sound just as terrified as any kid who is, and who knows that an important part of his identity is anathema to the people who raised him. And it's safe to say that this is about more than just having changed your views; falling for your boyfriend has taught you something important not just about what you think, but about who you are. So be true to that, be grateful, but be careful, too. And if there's any chance that your health, safety, and happiness will be compromised by telling the truth, then wait until you're out of the house.

Have you ever dated someone in secret? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Topics: Advice
Tags: parents, auntie sparknotes, advice, lgbt, bigots, transsexual

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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