Coming out can be really intimidating -- it may be intimidating to predict how your friends, classmates, family, or colleagues might react, but when it’s time, it’s time.
Ready to stand up and proudly be yourself? There’s no better way to build your confidence about how you identify yourself than to learn about the experiences of other transgender people who have come out, and to remember their strategies when you decide that it’s your time.
Ready for your big debut? We’re excited to share six things you should know about coming out as transgender, so you can finally be the amazing, unique soul you were meant to be.
#1: Do Not Feel Pressured To Come Out If You’re Not Ready
It might feel like you have to come out, especially if you are quite sure that your friends and family will be accepting. After all, you may feel like you are lying to them or yourself by not coming out, but you should always wait until you're 100% ready.
Coming out takes time and patience. Not coming out doesn't mean you aren't sure about being trans or that you don't want to support the LGBTQ+ community; it just means you need to take some more time to explore your identity. And that's just fine!
#2: Use One-On-One Conversations To Help Ease Into It If It Helps
It can be nerve-wracking to come out to multiple people at once, so you might want to start with one-on-one conversations while still learning to feel comfortable and confident in yourself.
In a one-on-one conversation, you can take the time to explain as much of yourself as you want and give the other person some time to process the information and ask questions.
Remember, if you have not told them anything about being trans in the past or if they don't know you as well, this might be a big surprise. If they need to take a few minutes to process the information, don't worry. It doesn't mean they are reacting badly; they just need to think, as this is all brand new (and important) information.
In a one-on-one conversation, you and the other person can be more comfortable without having to worry about other people listening in or being faced with tons of different reactions all at the same time.
#3: Surgery and Hormones Are Not Mandatory
You will likely be asked quite often when coming out about whether you have decided to undergo surgery or use hormone therapy.
Even well-meaning people may make the mistake of assuming that: 1. Every trans person plans on utilizing these avenues or 2. It’s their business to ask.
If you feel comfortable discussing your decisions about surgery and hormone therapy with the person, then you absolutely can, but don't be afraid to gently brush off the question or make a light-hearted joke out of it. After all, what you decide to do with your body is no one's business besides your own.
Typically, if you choose to undergo surgery or use hormone therapy, one of the first people you will need to come out to is your doctor. You will need to talk to them about prescriptions and how your body will react to the changes.
If you are under the age of 18, in many states, you will also need to tell your parents or guardians if you plan to seek surgery or medication, but laws in some states allow minors to make those decisions independently.
You should also note that plenty of transgender people come out long before they have decided on hormone therapy or surgery. The good news is that there’s no rush. These are big decisions that will alter your body in many ways, so you should take your time when deciding what course to pursue.
Your identity does not depend on medical treatments, and that is just as valid as everyone else.
#4: It’s Not A One Time Thing
The act of coming out is often played up as a singular event, but the fact of the matter is that coming out is a process and something you will be doing for the rest of your life. Coming out to some people may be more of an event than to others in your life, but there are probably a fair amount of people that you will end up coming out to, even people you haven't met yet.
Depending on your personal pronouns and how people perceive you, you may have to come out in class by adding your preferred pronouns to your nametag on Zoom or gently correcting your boss at work. Coming out might be as simple as saying, "Hey Mom. I'd like you to call me __ now because I am trans," or it might be a long-drawn-out conversation.
It won't always be easy, and many people who knew you before will probably have questions about your experiences. Whether you want to answer those questions or kindly let them know that it’s too personal for you to answer comfortably, the chances are high that coming out will probably be a little more intensive than just swinging by for a latte and saying, “By the way, I'm trans.”
But, hey! If you want to come out that way and not have to deal with a long conversation afterward, then more power to you!
#5: You Can't Predict Everyone's Reactions
There are probably some people in your life whose reactions you can predict because you know them so well, but some people may surprise you.
If you are nervous about one person in particular, you may want to come out to them in a group setting where you know you will have the support of other people to back you up. However, it may turn out that someone you were nervous about coming out to actually is perfectly accepting and supportive.
Sometimes we overthink things, but it may also turn out that someone needs some time to process the information that you thought would be perfectly accepting. As we noted above, this could be a lot of new, surprising information for them. The same way that you needed time to think about your identity and learn more is true for everyone else. Someone might initially come off as confused and not accepting, but that might be because they need time to learn and understand. Once they have, you may find that they are completely supportive.
#6: It’s Different for Everyone
It’s a beautiful thing, and coming out is different for everyone. Regardless of how accepting and loving your family and friends are, you will have a different experience than another transgender person because you and your relationships and your people are unique.
We know that may seem a little bit scary, but it just means that you need to know yourself and have confidence in that self.
Whoever you are, be happy about it and celebrate yourself however you want, whether it’s by telling the whole world with a big flag or being a little more subtle with a small ring. We wish you the absolute best in your coming out experience because you deserve the best!
Coming out may not be easy, but it can be extremely liberating and gratifying. Not only will you feel more comfortable interacting with people and having them treat you like you, but it can also be a real weight off of your shoulders to trust the people you love with knowing your true identity.
If you’ve decided to take advantage of surgery and hormone therapy to help you along your new journey, it’s usually much easier to have your parents or guardians know and help support you through the process.
Remember, you are never alone! You can also always reach out to the LGBTQ+ community at Pride Palace for support and advice. You are unique, fabulous, and oh-so-loved, so embrace every moment of this amazing experience!