Coming out is a scary thing for anyone in the LGBTQ community, but it can also be liberating. We all experience coming out in different ways and all have a different story to tell. For me I have two coming out stories, once when I was 15 coming out as a lesbian and most recently at 31 coming out as a transgender man. I can say one was harder than the other, but coming out as a transgender man was more liberating for me because it let me be who I truly was on the inside.
Many transgender men come out as lesbians prior to them coming out as transgender men. I am one of those guys who identified as a lesbian for a long time before I could admit to myself that I was transgender and ready to transition. Like I have said previously I realized I was transgender when I was 20, but it took me 11 years to find it within myself to feel a 100 percent ready to start my transition. There were many variables included in why I didn’t start sooner even though there are times I regret not coming out earlier in life. The right time for me was now and through therapy and self understanding I have come to realize that. I know some people get frustrated because they feel so behind in the process, but remember we all have our own story and our own journey in this life and that includes our transitions.
When I was 15 I realized I liked girls which obviously made me a lesbian because I had no attraction sexually to men. I struggled a little at that time with it because I looked at men and thought how I’d love to have that body, but didn’t realize I was fighting an internal demon of not being my true self. Some people might think well maybe that makes you bisexual, but for me I never once in my life have seen a man in a sexual manner.
It’s quite funny when I think about how I came out at 15 to my family first and friends second. The first person I told was my grandma through an email. Yes an email!! I didn’t have the courage to tell her in person with the fear of what she would say to me or the face she would give me. There is no right or wrong way to come out regardless of what you are coming out as. My choice was email because I felt less intimidated at the situation and what might come of it. My grandma has a gay brother, but despite that I still had fear within me that my grandma would react in a way I wasn’t ready for.
Despite my fears and worries my grandma was supportive from the beginning with some of her own fears of course. Which any parent has fears for their children in ways that we as children can’t understand until you are a parent yourself. Coming out as a lesbian overall was easy. I was young so maybe that was part of the reason why and I didn’t have a lot invested in different areas of my life. I did lose some friends due to their parents not being okay with me being a lesbian, but have gained some of those friendships back over the years since we have all grown up.
Coming out as a transgender man has been a totally different ball game for me. I knew prior to coming out as a transgender man that there would be people out there that didn’t agree with it or understand it. The part I wasn’t prepared for was who in my life would feel a certain way. I had my own preconceptions of who would be supportive, who wouldn’t, and who wouldn’t understand. Despite those preconceptions I was completely wrong on some of them.
The first person I came out to was my partner. When we got together she had no idea that I was transgender and she solely identified as a lesbian her whole life. So I wasn’t quite sure how she would feel about dating a transgender man considering shes never looked at a man sexually before. Despite my worries she was very understanding and has been my biggest support since I came out. She would do anything for me and I would do anything for her. She loves me for me whether I am a man or a woman. She tells me all the time she didn’t fall in love with my gender she fell in love with me and who I am as a person. I think as trans individuals we worry about how our partners will react if we have been in relationships with them for a substantial amount of time. Yes do I think there are partners out there that have a bad reaction and leave of course, but I do believe there are people out there that don’t care about your genitalia, but instead care about you as a person. This is the kind of person I personally think everyone should be with anyways not with someone who cares about what is in between your legs.
After coming out to my partner I realized that she couldn’t be the only one I came out to. I figured my best bet was to start with my friends and I have to say that 99 percent of my close friends took it very well. Of course there were several especially my best friend that I have known since birth struggle with understanding it, but its hard to understand it unless that’s who you are as a person. My friends have been a great support system as well since I came out. They have all come together to try and understand it and ask questions (non abrasive) with the understanding that I may not want to tell them specific things. They have all slipped up and misgendered me at times, but I have come to understand that its not just a transition for me, but also all the people around me that have been in my life prior to my transition. This is a part of transitioning that I believe trans individuals need to give their loved ones more leeway with. Some people can be to abrasive in correcting people and despite the fact that it might hurt when you get misgendered you have to be understanding to there part in this transition as well. It takes time and as people repeat your new name and new pronouns it will come to them naturally.
Once I had settled into being comfortable with being out to my friends I felt it was time to come out to my family. That included my mom, sister, brother, and grandparents. My family dynamics isn’t your typical family. Like I said in my previous post I grew up in a very dysfunctional household. I had a alcoholic father and a mother who didn’t know how to handle life at the time. My father is no longer alive due to his alcoholism and I would give anything for him to be here to be a part of this journey with me. I wonder sometimes what he would say if he were here today. Anyways..lets move on.
When I came out to my mom and sister they were extremely supportive and have continued to be. For the first time since I came out to them I had to correct my mom on my name and pronouns. She apologized and thanked me for correcting her. It was nice to know she is so understanding of it all. My sister has three children and we also told them. Of course kids don’t completely understand it, but they now call me their uncle instead of aunt. I didn’t expect this response from the two of them, so this is a reminder to everyone that just because you may think they will react one way they may not. My brother on the other hand reacted poorly. He said he would never call me by my name and I would never be his brother. That to him I was dead and that he could careless if he ever heard or saw me again. Honestly I expected this from my brother, but despite expecting his response it still hurt.
My grandparents are who I was worried about the most. They come from an older generation and less understanding of the LGBTQ community. Despite their support of me being a lesbian I wasn’t sure what they would say about me being transgender. My grandparents are my very best friends so any kind of negative response was going to kill me inside, but I had mentally prepared myself for this so I didn’t go down the rabbit hole. I told my grandmother over the phone after a session with my therapist. It was time I told her and I couldn’t wait any longer, plus I didn’t have it in me to tell her in person. My grandma didn’t react well to it nor did my grandfather. They of course don’t understand it at all and aren’t willing to understand it. Despite them not approving of it they still love me and it hasn’t had any effect on our relationship. They love me unconditionally and despite the fact that they wish I wouldn’t transition they want me to be happy. I am thankful to have my grandparents and will need them through this journey to be a support when there might be a time that gets rough.
The last piece to me coming out as a transgender man is coming out at work. This at 31 years of age is a hard one to maneuver. My anxiety over telling my job has been eating at me since the beginning of my coming out process. I have left coming out at work to the last thing because I knew it would be the most difficult on me personally and possibly professionally. I live in Florida where they don’t have to have a reason to fire you so of course the thought of losing my job doesn’t sit well with me and what others will think of me weights heavy on my mind. Yesterday I had an inner yearning to tell the human resources director and decided the time is now. So I asked her to meet and we sat down and I bluntly came out and told her I was transgender. To my surprise she was completely understanding. She asked if I needed time off if there was anything she could do and she would leave it up to me how I wanted to move forward with it. I felt a since of relief for the first time since coming out after that. She put my anxiety at ease some and I quickly began to wonder how I would tell everyone else in my organization. I have decided on writing a letter that will be distributed via email when I am ready. Everything I have read states this is the best way to hit the most amount of people at one time without having to tell everyone individually. I’m still nervous and my anxiety is still high about it, but know that I have no control over what happens. I need to be happy and if that means offending some people or some people not understanding I can handle that.
Coming out is a journey just like transitioning is. We have some good stories and some bad ones. That’s just part of life in general. My coming out process has been rocky at times, but I have had some good times to. If I can give any advice in regards to coming out its be true to yourself. Don’t worry about what others may say or think about you. Know that you are who you are and your being true to that. Otherwise you will live the rest of your life fighting that inside you and not being truly happy with who you are. Life is to short to live it for someone else’s standards. Instead step up to the plate and start loving yourself and stand up for yourself. Life is a rocky road and transition makes it harder, but life can and will be good if you just put yourself at the top.