Tips and Advice For Coming Out as Transgender

Tips For Coming Out As Transgender

Here are some important things to know before you take the plunge.

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Occasionally I get hit with a message from someone feeling hopeless and pleading for advice about coming out as transgender. I love that my voice and the message I try so hard to spread allows others to feel comfortable enough coming to me for help with this kind of issue. Coming out can be one of the most terrifying experiences you'll ever have to endure in your life. I know it was for me. When I came out, I didn't have anyone and I barely knew what the word "transgender" entailed. I just knew I needed out of this body I was trapped in before it was too late. Feeling like I was walking alone in my journey when I had first come out was, honestly, pretty scary. I felt like I was second guessing everything I did because I had no examples of what to do or what not to do. This is only speaking from my personal experience with opening up and coming out as transgender, but if this can help just one person feel more comfortable and confident, then I've done my job.

The first person, and the most important person, you need to come out to is yourself. Self-acceptance is the first and most crucial step to living an authentic life. At the end of the day, the only approval you need does not come from your parents, your loved ones, your friends, or anyone else. The only approval you need comes from within. If you accept you, it won't matter who else will. For too many long and grueling years, I refused to accept the fact that I was transgender and needed to transition. I was embarrassed and thought something may be wrong with me, so I kept it bottled up. Something so extreme should never be kept inside. It will just eat away at you until you can't take it anymore. It took me so long to realize that being transgender was nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Being transgender didn't make me any less of a man, it just meant I would have to fight a little harder than cismen to get there. More importantly, being transgender doesn't make you any less of a person. Look at yourself in the mirror, say it out loud, have no shame. Own it. When you accept and believe it for yourself, no one can take that away from you.

As I said before, when I was first coming out, I didn't have anyone. I didn't know or talk to any other transmen and I felt like I was free falling alone. I had no one to tell me the things I wish I could go back and say to myself before taking the plunge. I felt like skydiving without a parachute or a chicken running with its head cut off. It's so important to reach out! An amazing thing about being transgender is the new family and new community you're welcomed into with open arms. The connections I've made with other transmen, who I consider to be brothers, are irreplaceable and their experiences have helped me feel better about my own. Although you'll feel like it, you're never alone. No matter what your situation, there is always someone who has braved that storm just as you will. It's not weak to admit you need help. Don't be afraid to lean on someone.

The time when you come out to friends and family is the most nerve-wracking. If you have to, rehearse how you'll come out and what you'll say. Find the person in your life that's the most supportive of you and come out to them first. For me, it was my best friend via text message, which was still extremely terrifying. If it's easier for you to come out in an email or letter, that's perfectly okay too. Once the first person knows and it's out in the open, it makes telling the rest a little easier. When you come out to someone and you're unsure of how they'll react, bring up the topic of something transgender-related in conversation to see how they respond to it. Know that when you finally do come out, everyone is going to bombard you with hundreds of questions. Do some research prior so you're prepared and those people will take you seriously. When you're feeling ready to come out, do so in confidence.

This will show whoever you're coming out to that this isn't a joke. It's important to remember to give people time with this new information. Being transgender isn't just a huge adjustment for you, it's huge for everyone involved in your life as well. You need to allow them to take in what they've just been told, time to think it over, and time to try to understand what you're going through. Sometimes, it takes people a bit of time to get used to calling you by different names or pronouns, that doesn't mean they're doing it on purpose. Be patient and appreciative of their attempts of trying, it just takes time. However, if someone is misgendering you or calling you by your unpreferred name on purpose, this isn't someone you should be concerning your time with. That's just plain disrespect and you cannot waste any of your energy on people who refuse to accept you for who you truly are. Relax, not everyone will react negatively and don't go into situations thinking they will. Often times you'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of these conversations, you don't always need to be on the defense.

I can't promise you that everyone will accept this "new you" with loving arms, you have to be prepared for some not-so-positive reactions. Not everyone is going to understand right away. The hope is that those who know you the best will realize you're being true to yourself. People will try to tell you that you're confused, really it's them who are confused. I've found that a lot of the time, the people who respond to me in a negative manner are simply uneducated on what it means to be transgender, these are not people you should pay any mind to. Don't let them see you sweat. Further down the line when those around you see how much more comfortable and confident you are since transitioning, they'll realize that this was right for you. If they don't, maybe they're not worth being in your life. It's a hard pill to swallow, but you're going to lose people you never thought you would over something as trivial as transitioning and staying true to yourself. It's their loss, never yours.

It isn't just other people you need to remain patient with, it's yourself. When I came out, I wanted to snap my fingers and magically wake up the next morning with all my surgeries done and over with. Testosterone coursing through my veins, all my documents changed and legalized, and my transition already completed. The truth is, your transition will never be complete. This is a life long journey you get to experience every single day. Not everyone wants to medically transition and that's okay. This is your journey and yours alone, you and only you get to decide the right paths to take. It can take someone months or even up to years to begin their medical transition. In the meantime, that doesn't make you any less valid than a transman far down the road in his transition. Getting my top surgery was the most rewarding and refreshing feeling and the greatest experience of my life. When I got my surgery date I would excitedly jump out of bed every morning and change the countdown I had written on a whiteboard. After surgery I couldn't do that anymore and didn't have anything transitional wise to look forward to right away, it was bittersweet. Don't wish it away, live in the present and cherish the milestones that are in your future.

Keep positive and don't lose yourself. Transitioning can be one of the most difficult and frustrating battles you face in your life, but it's one well worth fighting for. As tough as it's been, it also remains the greatest decision I've ever made for myself. I have no regrets and am finally so happy to be alive. Every tear shed, every painful injection of testosterone, every struggle and obstacle along the way has been far beyond worth it. Transitioning has made me such a stronger man, and for that, I'm thankful.

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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Pride Month And People’s Sexual Identity Are Not Marketing Ploys For Corporations To Pillage

What is feeding into these limited-edition rainbow products actually doing to help the LGBTQ+ community?

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You may have heard of pink or even green capitalism, but now, meet rainbow capitalism: the latest ploy from corporations to make you believe that they care about your cause!

Perhaps it was inevitable. As support for the LGBTQ+ community grew to the majority being in public support, corporations jumped at the opportunity to sink their claws into the movement for their own economic gains. It appears in the form of Adidas's "pride pack" rainbow merchandise, despite being one of the biggest sponsors in this year's World Cup in Russia, a country whose anti-LGBT laws make being apart of the community a dangerous thing.

It appears in companies changing their logos to that of rainbow colors, without actually doing literally anything to contribute to the LGBT+ community. It appears in the slacktivism of "allies" purchasing a rainbow product and feeling as though they have contributed to the cause.

To give context, Pride Month was created in honor of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, headed by LGBTQ people, predominantly of color, including black trans women Marsha P. Johnson, after being silenced by the police all throughout history. It garnered attention to the LGBTQ+ fight for equality by taking a step further than the polite and resigned protests.

So then why is our current Pride Month being defined by just that: movements for equality that are polite and resigned?

Here's the truth you may not want to hear: buying a 'love is love' mug or posting a picture of your rainbow Ikea bag is not really supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Sorry, not sorry.

Corporations are thriving off of people's willingness to accept the most minimal efforts as support. What is feeding into these limited-edition rainbow products actually doing to help the LGBTQ+ community? In most cases, nothing but exploiting the very real and very serious battle for equality to love who you want to. Even though the LGBTQ+ symbol of a rainbow can be found nearly everywhere during the month of June, its current use by corporations only works to silence the actual hardships and meanings behind the movement and its activists.

To mend this loss of focus is to raise awareness. Continue to educate yourself and other people on the real reasons for Pride, and the real reasons why companies may be using these symbols. Investigate the companies that you want to purchase LGBTQ+ products from: Are they donating to LGBTQ+ causes? Have they ever actively donated to anti-LGBTQ or other humanitarian causes? Are they only vocal when it comes to the month of June, and silent on anything gay-related after?

Pride Month was designed not only to celebrate the braveness of those LGBTQ+ activists who have come before us, but each and every single member of the community who continues to fight for equality. When corporations minimize that down to a rainbow-colored bottle of mouthwash, ask yourself: Are they supporting for the right reasons? Or is it just another contribution to the silencing of the LGBTQ+ community?

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