It took me 40 years to understand myself fully, embrace it, and come out to others. We suffer through a lot of fear, uncertainty, and confusion. Of all the steps in the process, coming out to friends, family, and coworkers is by far the hardest…especially when you’re still struggling to understand and accept yourself.
It’s unfortunate the way it’s worked out in your niece’s boyfriend’s case because telling people early and getting their support is so much easier mentally than doing something big like HRT and trying to hide it. That just puts so much pressure on things.
The most important thing to do is to tell them that you support them fully. Even if you struggle to understand why and can’t get behind it fully, but on the front that you do. They’re going to make these choices and changes regardless and having support will mean the world to them. As you start to find more people that support you, it gets less scary to come out to others. Help them build up that support network and the confidence that the world isn’t going to end if they live like their true self.
Next is your niece. That’s a really tough one. He’s been keeping this secret from her for a long time. She is probably feeling at least a little betrayed and hurt that he wasn’t honest with her/doesn’t trust her enough to tell her. It’s important for her to understand how monumentally hard it was for him to come out to her and part of that is BECAUSE of how much he cares for her. It is very important that they focus on communication and that she openly shares her feelings and her fears. And she has to be honest with herself and her partner about whether and how she can support them.
I hope that they both feel there is no rush to decide. Just start talking openly, come up with a plan TOGETHER, and do what they can to make it work. It’s going to be a hard road for them. The most important thing now is compassion and openness.
I wish your family a lot of luck. And thanks so much for being so willing to help them that you would come post here. You freakin’ rock!