For many, “coming out” to family and friends is a stressful experience.
And if doing once is hard enough, spare a thought for Tina Healy who has to come out to her mother every couple of weeks.
Tina, 54, is a transgender woman and feared that revealing herself as female might be too stressful for her mother, who suffers from dementia.
But her mum’s “beautiful” response of love and acceptance soon put her mind at rest.
“When I told her I was a woman, she just looked at me and said, ‘Oh, what do you know? I’ve got a beautiful new daughter!” Tina told ABC News.
“I started to cry, and she pulled me to her shoulder and said ‘Cry it out, dear. Cry it out.’ My partner at the time cried as well.”
Tina added that after crying, her mother, who used to be a “beautiful seamstress”, then said, ‘Well, now you’re going to need some new clothes! What do you need?”
Tina explained she “had always loved sitting across the table and watching my mum sew up gowns and whatnot, and it was just so beautiful to me that making new clothes for me was one of the first things she thought of.”
Because her mother’s memory is failing, Tina has to come out every time she visits, but the response is always the same.
When she came “dressed as Tina, not Chris (her former self)”, the first thing her mum did was “put my hand to my face and say, ‘You’re beautiful!”
Tina said the two of them then had tea together and her mother said, “You’ve held this in for a long time, haven’t you? Why didn’t you tell me? I would never have minded.”
It was the happiest time of Tina’s life, she said, adding that she had known she was a woman since she was 4 but waited nearly 50 years to fully come out
Tina, from Melbourne, has four children with her former partner Tess and two grandchildren.
“My message for any trans person who wants to come out is to come out when you feel ready and safe,” she said. “Everything will change, for sure, but it’s not always for the worse, like we might assume. Sometimes, things change for the better.”