It is hard to believe (and somewhat relieving) that 2018 has nearly come to an end. With the end of the year nearing, holiday season is in full swing. The holidays are difficult for a lot of people for several different reasons; for trans people, it can be even more difficult.

Showing up to your family member’s house that you haven’t seen since coming out as trans, or since starting hormones, or celebrating the holidays still in the closet (which is totally ok!) leads to some awkward conversations and anxiety-ridden situations. If your outward appearance has changed at all, family members that you have not seen in some time may start to notice changes indicating your transness, and some family members may not be so accepting of those changes. Especially with today’s political climate, “trans” is likely to come up in conversation naturally.

So, what do you do in these situations to ensure your safety and sanity? I have 3 tips to help you do just that!

1. Be comfy

A lot of the time, we are told to dress up for family occasions such as holiday get togethers. If this is the case for you, I recommend wearing something dressy that affirms your gender. For me, this looks like nice pants and a button up and/or sweater, and maybe even a tie. For you, maybe that’s a dress or a full suit. Either way, wear something that will make you feel good about yourself and look great in family photos.

If you have casual holiday get togethers, then lucky you! Throw on your favourite jeans and a hoodie, that tee you can’t seem to wear enough, or that new blouse that accents your curves just the way you like. Again, no matter what, wear something that makes you feel good and will look stunning in family photos!

2. Have safe people

If you can, bring a friend that you feel comfortable with to your family get together. Simply having them there can make you feel less alone and therefore more comfortable, but they can also act as a buffer if you get put in an uncomfortable situation.

If you can’t bring someone with you, ask a close friend if they can be “on call” for you. This way you know you can call or text them throughout the get together as a distraction from whatever is going on as well as to talk to them about what’s happening. It also just feels good knowing you have someone to turn to, even if they can’t physically be with you.

3. Have an exit plan

If you still live with your parents and/or travel for holiday gatherings, have a “break plan” as opposed to an “exit plan.” Your break plan can be as simple as spending 5 minutes in the bathroom to get away from everyone for a few minutes. This gives your brain a break from everything going on and allows you to be alone. Of course, the more often you use this option, the more your family will probably start asking why you’re going to the bathroom so often.

Another easy option is stepping outside to get some fresh air. If anyone asks why you’re stepping outside, you can always fake a phone call or just say you wanted some fresh air. I know for me, there are a lot of people at our family gatherings, so the home we’re in tends to get stuffy. This is always a great excuse to step outside for a moment.

If you don’t live with your parents and were able to get yourself to the family gathering, say you have to leave at a certain time because you have plans with friends or other family members. This gives you and your family a set timeline for when you’ll be leaving, and you can let everyone know before the get together so there are no questions asked at the event. Getting yourself to and from the get together gives you an easy exit strategy since you aren’t depending on anyone to take you home or to your next destination.

With all that said, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Please remember to dress comfy, have friends/family members available for you, and have an exit or break plan in order to take care of yourself at your next family gathering. What are some of your go-to tips for surviving the holidays as a trans person?

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Written & Edited by Drew

Hi, I’m Drew! I live in the PNW with my beautiful wife, our cat and our dog. I am a transgender man and have been on testosterone for roughly 2.5 years. I greatly enjoy sharing my mental health and queer stories in an effort to show others they are not alone and it truly does get better