“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” A million thoughts about a (not-so-)simple question

One of my mom’s big questions to me after I came out to her as genderqueer was “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

It’s not really a question with an answer. Or at least, it’s not a question with any answers that are going to satisfy the feelings behind the question. Because let’s be honest: my mom’s feelings were hurt by the fact that a couple of years elapsed between me realizing I am genderqueer, and me telling her about it at all.

The only satisfying answer to those hurt feelings that I can see is to go back in time and tell her sooner. Which, even if I could, I don’t want to do.

Because, of course, there are reasons why I didn’t tell her sooner. It wasn’t an arbitrary choice or an oversight. It was something I deliberately and repeatedly put off doing.

I didn’t tell her sooner because I wasn’t ready to.

The thing is, having realized that I am genderqueer was a lot to deal with, in and of itself. It was something I needed time to deal with on my own before I told *anyone*. There was definitely a good six months between the idea passing through my brain, and me doing anything outwardly about it.

The thing is, I knew that coming out to my parents was something that was highly likely to involve a lot of emotional labour on my part, and it wasn’t something I magically felt up to handling immediately.

The thing is, I came out to a lot of much lower-stakes people before I came out to her. Friends that I wouldn’t be heart-broken to lose.

The thing is, I came out to the people I actually interact with on a regular basis before I came out to her. Not because they were more important (though some of them were and are in some ways), but because they were there. Because having them change the pronouns they use for me would have a more immediate and regular impact on my life. Because the benefit of doing the work of coming out to them was greater in that way.

The thing is, I was afraid of what her response might be. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wasn’t ready for it.

The thing is, I was afraid she would try to talk me out of it somehow? I don’t even know what that would look like, to be honest. But I wanted to feel like I had a lot of confidence in myself and my identity before I was ready to face whatever response she might have. I came out to people I was more confident would be in my corner first, so that I would have support to handle potential bad responses from her (or other people).

The thing is, as you see, there are a lot of things that held me back from coming out to her.

But the short answer is still just, “because I wasn’t ready sooner.”

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