Transcend the Binary


written by Brayden Misiolek

The holiday season can be a stressful time – as is. For our t/gnc community, family gatherings may present extra stressors. Making a plan going into the holiday can help. Our Mental Health Lead, Caitlin Tupper, LCSW recommends:  “Be intentional about taking care of & protecting your needs. If your family is not supportive, you don’t owe them anything. Understanding how to draw boundaries, and where to go to get your needs met is a very useful ‘toolset,’ especially around the holiday season.” 

Our research, Finding our Strength focuses on stressors and how we cope. We wanted to provide you with a Survival Guide for making the best of this holiday season, while practicing some self-love. 


Start with the right mentality: you are autonomous, and a self-determined individual. You are worthy of respect and dignity. Our co-founder, Darnell Jones (RPH) was pretty infamous for his advice: “Own your space.” While this is powerful on many levels, this is especially useful in navigating family dynmics.

Consider how you want to own your space. There is no right or wrong way to be. Sometimes being quiet and keeping to oneself feels right and safe. Sometimes being expressive and being exactly who you are without regard for others’s validation fits right. 

Don’t doubt yourself; give yourself the compassion to be who you need to be for yourself in that moment.



  • The Trevor Project (866-488-7386) –  You can go on their website for text/online chat options. Lifeline is available 24/7. TP is culturally competent on a variety of issues. 



  • Trans Lifeline  (877) 565-8860 – Trans Lifeline is t/gnc operated, but only available 18 hours/day.

Did you know that Transcend offers parent, significant other, and family support for members of the trans and non-gender conforming communities? We can educate, answer questions, and provide referrals for the important people in your life.

If you’re interested in our Client Advocates, Therapists, Pharmacists, Physicians meeting with your friends, partner or family, email us at consults@transcendthebinary.org

We are happy to incorporate our research on the power of family support, and advocate for you.




  • The Trevor Project (866) 488-7386 – You can go on their website for text/online chat options. Lifeline is available 24/7. TP is culturally competent on a variety of issues. 



  • Trans Lifeline  (877) 565-8860 – Trans Lifeline is T/GNC operated and available 18 hours/day.



  • Identify friends you can call and text for support and advice. 
  • Have Support & Helplines on hand. 
  • If you have any ‘champions’ in your family (of origin) who support you, leverage them.  Let them know how they can provide support.
  • Be prepared for how you want to correct people. For some, going through talking points ahead of time will make it more comfortable. Ask a trusted friend to go over it with you.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to leave an uncomfortable, or disrespectful conversation and say: “I’m not comfortable talking about that right now” or “I wont engage in unhealthy conversations.” Affirming that you want constructive – not destructive conversations/relationships is a good fall back to get out of toxic conversations.
  • Know you don’t have to take on the labor of educating others. You can point folks towards resources, like t/gnc interviews or supportive organizations so that they can inform themselves.
  • It’s okay to not go. It’s okay to tell family you aren’t feeling well. It’s okay to tell them the real reason you aren’t going.
  • It’s okay to excuse yourself early. You can sit out an activity that makes you feel uncomfortable. You can control the amount of time you spend at the family gathering.
  • Bring a friend.
  • Plan ahead for afterwards. The holiday will be over. Have something you enjoy to look forward to. 


  • Plan an activity you enjoy: skiing/snowboarding, reading, writing, video games, go to the movies, take a relaxing bath/aromatherapy, spending time with loved ones/special person, art, cooking/baking, et. el.
  • In the moment of distress, there are coping actions that can help, too: deep breathing, taking a step back/taking a beak, focusing on sensory observations.
  • Write down affirmations. Ask for people who support you to share affirmations with you.

“Their first reaction is not their last reaction.”

finding our strength


  • Recognize that these challenging emotions are not permanent.
  • Remember that how people mistreat you says more about them, than about you. Work to not internalize this treatment as ‘messages’ about your core self. It is not a reflection of your worth. It’s a reflection of society being overly simplistic, and this engrained world view in those that mistreat/reject us.
  • Inversely, we are a gift. We are norm-breakers. We represent liberation and gender revolution. Remember this: you make the world richer, for existing within it. That’s some powerful stuff.
  • Understand that it may take some time for our families of origin to demonstrate acceptance for our identities. That means that what we are experiencing, now, is not permanent. 

“Their first reaction is not their last reaction.”

finding our strength

You’ll get through this.
Finding our Strength


  • Take control: we get to choose who we have in our life, how often we see them, what emotional needs we allow them to fulfill. 
  • By being aware of our emotional needs,  we can then intentionally have them met.
  • Surround yourself with people who are worthy of you.=
  • Spend time with your family of choice.
  • Connect with family members (of origin) who are allies and spend some time with them.
  • Celebrate with friends a Friendsmas, for Friendsuka in substitution for, or in addition to your family (of origin) holidays.
  • Attend a service at an affirming place of worship.
  • Check out upcoming events at Affirmations, LGBQ/T/GNC community led groups.
  • Seek out queer, progressive communities. The Detroit-metro queer music scene is pretty vibrant; Daisys who performed at our launch party, for example.

Show yourself that you are important by prioritizing your self-care.