To preface – I have been entirely out of the closet for about a year and a half now. I started my journey of coming out when I was 15. With some, I had to come out multiple times. I live fully out of the closet now, not hiding my identity from anyone. Coming out can be an intimidating and anxiety-inducing thought; having outside resources or guides can be priceless.
Preparing – Coming out is a life-altering and sometimes life-threatening decision. Family rejection is commonplace, “57% of trans people experienced some level of family rejection”. Before you come out, you need to have a plan if things do not go well. Family rejection frequently leads to homelessness, “an estimated 20-40%” transgender youth are homeless. Back-up proposals need to be thought of when taking this step; if you get kicked out of your house, what will you do? Homeless shelters are not commonly trans-friendly. Whether it be a progressive relative who you know you can call on or a close friend, you need to plan on the worst. Not only that, but making sure you are ready to come out is an important question. There is no rush for you to do anything that might make you uncomfortable. Coming out too soon may make your delivery choppy or seem not thought out. In short, coming is a life-altering and too often life-threatening decision. Making sure to plan for the worst will help ensure your safety and wellbeing.
Coming out – Depending on your family structure and the relationships in your family, it may make sense to come to a particular person first. Having someone on your side emotionally and in conversations are both incredibly valuable. For me, coming out to my mom first made the most sense. Not only that, but parents often shape how the family handles a situation. Having my mom on my side was instrumental in helping my brother and sister understand.
To continue, it may take multiple attempts or conversations for them to understand that you are telling them. Coming out can be overwhelming for the person receiving; they may not understand all of what you’re saying when you first tell them. They may ask questions as well, common ones being, “did you always know?” or “how do you know?”. Having information or resources on deck for your conversation can be incredibly helpful.
Helpful information – Cornell University published a complication of transgender research “between 1991 and June 2017 that assess the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being”. They found in the overwhelming majority of studies, “93%” “found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people.” Not a single study found that transitioning causes harm.
For decades, research has been conducted on the reasons for someone being transgender. By far, the most studied and observed reason being biological, such as “brain structure.”
Through an MRI, you can see someone’s neuroglial and brain structure. When an MRI scans a transgender person’s brain, we see that “the brain resembles the gender that the person identifies.” For instance, a transgender woman’s brain often will share some of the “structural characteristics of a “female” brain.” The cause of gender dysphoria is often rooted in biological components such as brain structure.
Not only that, but a study published in the “International Journal of Transgender Health found that 33% of identical twin pairs were both trans, compared to only 2.6% of non-identical twins who were raised in the same family at the same time, but were not genetically identical.” Further proving that biological components are often the cause of being transgender.
Transparency and emotional vulnerability are other valuable resources. Showing others how dysphoria has taken a toll on you or how important transitioning is for you may help others understand. Not only that but having a direction after coming out may be helpful as well, such as using a new name or pronouns.
Coming out is your truth to tell. Do not let others move you in a direction that you do not want to go in. Your the leader of this conversation; make sure other people know that in how you speak.
Aftermath – Depending on how the conversation went, you may need to plan another one. It takes time for people to understand all of the complexities and nuances of being trans. Especially if they have the perspective and lived experience of being cis.
If the conversation went well, they might start using the pronouns and name you want. However, like anything, it takes time for it to become familiar and natural. Having patience and politely correcting them will help.
You should communicate with others on how using your preferred pronouns and names makes you feel. It may be motivating for an outsider to know how much this is helping.
If the conversation did not go well, I’m sorry. Things will get better I promise, you will find a group of people who love and support you eventually.
877-565-8860 – Trans lifeline, a support line for trans people, by trans people. Offering a free hotline in which every operator is transgender. Trans lifeline is the “only service in the country with a policy against non-consensual active rescue,” meaning that trans lifeline can not call a rescue team without your permission. Incredibly often, trans people do not call crisis hotlines out of fear of a rescue team showing up without their consent.
In short, coming out is one of the most important first steps in your transition. Having others call you by your preferred name and pronouns can be a liberating experience, as well as not having to hide your true self. In my experience, having information on hand helps others understand, as well as having patience after as people get comfortable using your preferred name and pronouns. I wish you good luck and hope that this information can be helpful to you!
https://transequality.org/issues/housing-homelessness – the homeless rate of transgender people
https://avp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/FORGE_Transgender_People_SOFFAs.pdf – the family rejection rate of transgender people
Cornell University compilation of studies on gender transition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexuality#:~:text=Transgender%20people%20have%20a%20gender,to%20biology%20and%20sexual%20orientation. – The Wikipedia page for causes of transsexuality
New information on transgender brains
Brain structure and its role in gender dysphoria