Supportive home environments for LGBTIQ community: Journey of a genderfluid person

Furin's story - this is the journey of a genderfluid person and their family walking a path from pain and rejection to mutual understanding and acceptance, posted on the UN in Vietnam's website, as part of the “Safer Home for LGBTIQ People” campaign.

"Is gender-fluid really a gender identity?"

That is a question I have been contemplating a lot: is it truly a realistic gender identity or just something fictional, something made-up. When my relationship with gender naturally fluctuates and changes overtime, even within a day, it is inevitable that I garner some amount of self-doubt. I am a gender-fluid person. I don't just seek answers for myself; I fight for the recognition of my gender identity.

I wasn't averse to my biological sex as female in the past, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Without full-informed awareness, I thought the confusion was due purely to puberty, or that it meant I was probably a transgender man or a mentally abnormal person. During that period of uncertainty, I was always in a strange mentality, even to the point of being scared and hateful towards myself due to such internal conflicts. It, to some extent, had affected the way I interacted, conversed, and communicated with others. It was not until I knew the definition of gender-fluidity that all the burden I kept inside was lifted. I finally found myself in the concept of being gender-fluid.

Besides seeking the answers to my long-standing questions, it was also a journey to fight for acceptance of my gender identity, especially by my family. With my parents being very conservative, I can say that coming out was not easy. Through conversations, I showed that I would always put in my best efforts to make my parents proud. With each word, I hoped my family would still welcome me as the child of their blood who they had always loved.

But things didn’t go so smoothly. The biggest shock occurred in 12th grade, when I cut off my originally long hair at the peak of my gender dysphoria. Seeing me return home with the confession of truth, my parents cried a lot, scolded me just as much, and even hit and whipped me. Under all the difficulties and pressures, I used to think, “I will never be able to return to the family I knew in the past”.

It took a few months for everything to cool down. In college, I actively participated in many social activities, turning it into a motivation for living and something to connect me to my family again. I still remembered my past hopes and ambitions to pursue what I believed in. Little by little, I have opened up to share more stories about my community and my achievements with Mom and Dad. And, bit by bit, they have slowly come to understand me with less harshness than before.

Until one day, when the most heart-touching thing happened. My Dad said to me, “We don't need to know your identity, whether you are a man or a woman, we just need to know that you have become successful in life; then, we can be fully satisfied.” The development was so great that I nearly burst into tears of joy. Just one speech - one speech - and it had erased any invisible barrier between us and pulled our family back together just as close and loving as before. After everything, the efforts of giving will eventually result in the receival of acceptance and care.

"Thank you, Dad, thank you, Mom, for being the nest that I will return to, for being the support that I could lean onto, and for letting me live life as myself."

People join an LGBTIQ program to celebrate and promote the rights of LGBTIQ people. Photo: Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment

In celebration of the Vietnam Pride Month, the United Nations in Vietnam has run a social media campaign, the “Safer Home for LGBTIQ People”, to promote supportive and safe home environments for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning (LGBTIQ) community in the country.

The Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment’s initial findings on the impact of COVID-19 among 923 Vietnamese LGBT people reported that conflicts in the family, including being scolded and a lack of interaction, are more likely to increase in younger LGBTIQ and transgender women.

In addition, 36% of respondents with a secure job experienced income decreases and 25.3% working as part-time employees had to temporarily stay home without any income. These issues have been exacerbated and combined with social isolation and disconnection from peers and support groups.

The “Safer Home for LGBTIQ People” campaign has been launched to offer a space for LGBTIQ people to say what they want to their loved ones, help others facing similar challenges and build stronger relationships between LGBTIQ people and their family and friends.

Everyone can join this social media campaign by sharing stories of courage, support and resilience.

Tu Anh