She pointed out that her parents repeatedly called her son by the wrong name and pronouns in front of the whole family.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 17, 2021. It has since been updated.
Misgendering someone can trigger gender dysphoria and inflict trauma. A woman knew her son was hurt every time someone misgendered him, so she decided to take measures to protect him, even if it meant giving an ultimatum to her parents. The 45-year-old posted about refusing to go to the family Christmas held at her parents' home because they wouldn't use her son's correct pronouns. She was heavily criticized by close relatives for demanding her parents to use her son's correct pronouns. She turned to Reddit to ask if she was wrong to expect her parents to use his new name and correct pronouns.
"Eight months ago my 15-year-old son came out to us as FTM transgender. It was a shock, but my husband and I love and accept him and we immediately put him into therapy and gender counseling while he began his transition. We understand that some people have difficulties understanding and being open-minded about the situation. When we told the family there were mixed responses and there were some relatives that had to be cut off, unfortunately," she wrote, clearly indicating that she wasn't going to put up with people who would continue hurting her son by not acknowledging him.
Her toughest challenge proved to be her parents. "The two people having the hardest time are my parents, especially my mother. They have always been extremely close with my son as he is their first and only grandchild. So at first, I gave them a little bit of leeway and at times would very gently remind them to use my son's new name and correct pronouns. They were still struggling by the time we made it to Thanksgiving this year, and numerous times called my son the wrong name and pronouns in front of our whole family. I know this really upsets my son, and while I love my parents and understand they are struggling, I am my son's advocate," she wrote.
The 45-year-old mother decided it couldn't continue and she had to draw a line somewhere. "A couple of days after Thanksgiving I reached out and explained to them that unless they agree to use my son's correct pronouns at Christmas this year (we always have it at their house) then we would not be attending and they would no longer be allowed contact with our son," she wrote. "They were very upset by this, and it truly does hurt me to do this to them, but I also know they are not trying and I can only allow them to make their grandchild uncomfortable so many times."
One of their reasons for not using his correct pronouns was that he could potentially change his mind about the transition. "While I validate their concerns we have precautions put in place to help him. We agreed as a family that he will be in therapy for a year before he will be allowed to start hormone therapy treatment when he is 16," she explained, adding that they had to use his correct pronouns.
"My whole family disagrees with my decision. They agree that my parents need to try harder, but they also feel that I am being too harsh on them and forcing them to accept something they are not ready to accept," she wrote. A majority of Reddit users sided with her, with many opining that she had to prioritize protecting her son. "Hell, I wish I had her as my mom. She was an advocate for her son, and that's the most important thing a parent can do for a child," they wrote. "You are doing what is best for your child. That must take priority over everything else. Maybe missing him over the holidays will give them a wake-up call and things will become better," wrote another person.
She also thanked everyone who supported her. "Thank you! And to those of you whose parents are having a hard time accepting you, I am so sorry! You deserve to be loved and respected just as you are! I hope they come around and realize how wonderful you all are, and even if they don't please know that this mom right here loves you for just being your most authentic self and that is the best thing you can do for you! You can't help how feel and you are never wrong for expressing," she wrote.