Coming out

Do I have to come out? What is the right moment to do it? Who to start with? What words to use? If you are wondering about whether or not you must have an official trans coming out, know that a multitude of questions will cross your mind and their answers will be even more diverse.

The truth is that there is no obligation to come out, nor is there an ideal time to do so. The choice is purely personal and depends on you and you alone. What is important, however, is to act coherently with your thoughts and feelings, at the pace that suits you, if and when you feel ready to do so. Weigh the pros and cons, consider the positive and negative impacts on your life, from all perspectives: personal, emotional, financial, etc. If you choose to come out, give yourself time to prepare.

Feeling nervous about coming out or uncertain, proud, relieved, guilty, confused, enthusiastic, and otherwise is all normal. The very first step is to be open and honest with yourself. You could connect with a trans community, “real” or virtual, to help you understand and tame all those overwhelming emotions. Talking with people who share what you are going through will help you feel less alone and answer some of the questions you may have about what you are going through and the next steps you will take.

Then, if the idea of unveiling your trans identity is still right for you, you may take the time to formulate a plan. Think about what you want to say and the words you would like to use to be understood. Putting one’s ideas in writing also helps structure one’s thinking and, eventually, help others better understand the issues you want to share with them. Learn about trans identity so you will be better prepared to answer questions from your loved ones and, thus, be able to better explain your reality.

Allow yourself to choose to whom you will come out and whether you will do it in writing or in person. Go step by step. First, choose people who can offer support and help you pursue your coming out. Remind yourself about the length of time you needed to accept who you are. Your loved ones may also need time to fully understand your situation and incorporate all the changes that this requires. The reactions can be varied and it is possible that some people do not respond as you had anticipated. Others will surprise you with their openness and acceptance. You must be ready to face a wide range of reactions.

“I was not expecting my family to accept me.” “I had the impression that a huge burden was finally off my shoulders.” The comments after a coming out often mention a relief, an appeasement of the torment that finally leaves room for serenity. However, let’s be honest: the path that opens afterwards can be beautiful, but could also be strewn with obstacles. When you decide to unveil yourself to those around you, it may feel like a trip that you will not take alone, but that will require adaptation from everyone. You might see changes in your relationships. Everyone has their story, everyone has their own pace. There is no good or bad way to talk to your friends: the important thing is that you are ready to do it, comfortable with your decision and that you are authentic when speaking with them.

Life is like a roller coaster: it has its ups and downs, but in the end you have smiles and giggles because, you know … you did it.

Julia Serano, author

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