Coming out as trans is difficult at any stage of life. It can be isolating and nerve-wracking – but it can also be life’s most liberating experience.
Getting to Know Yourself
Self-acceptance is the first step on a long road. Part of accepting yourself is knowing that this is you, this is how you are and nothing will change it. No person can force themselves to be straight or gay, queer or asexual – just as they can’t force themselves cisgender. It’s part of the very fabric of your being.
Another element of this stage in the process, for many people, is learning to love yourself.
After extended periods of self-doubt and denial (either internal denial or denial projected from family and friends), it can become harder to see your worth and value. Always remember that you are just as valuable and worthy as any other human being, just as deserving of happiness and full of boundless potential.
If you can’t see this value or you’ve hit a crisis point, it’s really time to talk to someone. If you don’t feel you can confide in anyone you know, here are some phone numbers and websites that will help you.
The Trevor Project
Expert, trained counsellors providing support for LGBTQ+ youth.
A hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.
The Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7.
When the time comes to tell people you know and love, it’s natural to be afraid, but putting it off will only delay any progress you hope to make. That’s not to say you should rush into anything.
Take your time.
Tell the closest, nearest family and friends you have first, the ones that you suspect may already know the real you. Make it easier on yourself by telling those you feel will be happiest for you.
It’s a sad truth, but you can’t win them all. You’ll have friends and family that will always fight your corner and love you as you are, but not everyone reacts with glowing support, open arms, and tears of joy. It’s something that you’ll have to be prepared for.
In a recent national transgender survey conducted by Glamour Boutique, around a third of respondents reported a breakdown in relationships with family and friends since coming out. Family members surveyed as part of the study expressed mixed views, ranging from out-and-out acceptance and admitting their lack of education on trans to embarrassment and hatred.
Happily, some 64% of transgender people who took part in the study reported that their relationships remained as strong as ever.
How you come out, when you come out, or even whether you come out at all to your employer is entirely up to you. There are exceptions: if you plan to transition with gender reassignment surgery or change your name legally, they will need to know so time off can be arranged and you can still collect your pay.
Even with all that’s happening in US government, there are still laws that prevent discrimination based on gender. However, 32 out of 50 states still give no legal clarity on discrimination specifically against transgender people. The system is still flawed.
Losing your job at such a vulnerable and life-changing point in your life can be a blow. Take precautions and know your rights.
Check the laws and policies in your state: www.hrc.org/state-maps
Facing Up to Bullies
You don’t have to justify your existence to anybody. It’s not your responsibility to educate the ignorant, constantly fighting an uphill battle only to be rolled back down, exhausted.
Nobody has to.
But it’s every good and decent person’s responsibility to stand up to oppression and call out bullying in all its forms. Deal with it in your own style: humor, facts, or conversation. Just don’t revert to anger, hatred, or venom-spitting. Don’t become them.
Comments come and go, and eventually they’ll roll off you like water off a duck’s back. Day to day, persistent chipping away at your confidence is different. Whether it’s a lone aggressor or a group making your life harder, do not allow them to continue or win. Speak up, tell people what they’re doing, and let the rest of the world see them as the bullies they are.
Unless you’re already with the love of your life, dating may well be on the cards at some point in your future. It’s entirely up to you when and how this happens, but always remember your self-worth. Be genuine, truthful, and as good as you are.
Your being transgender is not a novelty or something to tick off a bucket list. Don’t let yourself be treated that way. You’re not a curiosity or a conquest; you’re a person looking for love – a profound human connection. There truly is someone for everyone.
Whether you find that connection online or at meetups or it just happens organically, love is love. And you deserve it.
This article was provided by Glamour Boutique, specialist clothing for the male to female transgender and crossdressing communities.
Note: The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily that of Lehigh Valley Renaissance or the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.