The process of coming out as transgender to friends and family may range from terrifying and challenging to exhilarating and empowering. It differs for everyone. There is no one correct way to exit.
What is the meaning of “coming out”?
If you choose to be referred to as he/him, she/her, they/them, etc., you may have to inform others of your chosen pronouns upon coming out as transgender. It may also involve requesting that others call you by a new name and consider you according to the gender identification with which you are most comfortable.
Coming out as transgender is a very personal decision that differs for each individual. Some people prefer to come out before undergoing medical or social transition, while others opt to do so after or during the process. You can choose to come out to various individuals at different times, or not at all. This is all OK. Only you can choose what is best for you.
There are contrasts between coming out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and coming out as transgender, despite the fact that both require revealing one’s identity to friends and family. Many people understand what it means to be homosexual, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty and misinformation about what it means to be trans.
And coming out or being outed as transgender can often result in your identity being misinterpreted, disregarded, or disbelieved.
If you decide to come out as transgender, you should do it only to individuals you trust and have a support structure in place. This may be family, friends, or a support group. It’s essential to have the utmost assurance that coming out would not compromise your safety, health, or living circumstances.
How do I tell my parents and friends that I am trans?
There is no single perfect method for coming out to family and friends. You are the authority on what feels appropriate to you and whom you should confide in.
The following are general guidelines for coming out:
- Give yourself time to consider how you’ll come out and what you’ll say when you feel you’re ready.
- Determine the people or individuals in your life who you believe will be the most accepting, and come out to them first. Often, you may determine a person’s attitude about transgender people by seeing how they respond when the subject comes up in conversation.
- Conduct research so that you are knowledgeable about being trans, in case they have questions or do not have all the facts.
- Some individuals feel more comfortable communicating by letter or email than in person. After deciding who you will come out to, what you will say, and how you will say it, be prepared to wait while they process and absorb the new information. Give them the time they need to consider and attempt to comprehend your situation.
- It may take some time for people to adjust to your new pronouns or name, and they may unintentionally make mistakes while referring to you.
- Do not assume that all individuals will respond negatively. Some individuals may surprise you with their receptivity and openness.
The Transgender Visibility Guide from the Human Rights Campaign is an excellent, step-by-step guide for coming out as trans, and it also contains information to assist your loved ones accept your identity.
Where can I find support?
You can find support in a lot of places, including:
- Other transgender people who may share their experience of coming out or transitioning
- Online communities of trans people
- Transgender support groups at your local LGBTQ community centre
- Cisgender people who are allies to trans people
- National organisations such as, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The Trevor Project, PFLAGand GLAAD.
Not everyone lives in an area with many transgender individuals or an LGBTQ community centre. If you find yourself in this circumstance, search online for groups and assistance.