Coming out as transgender is often a scary step for many people. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make this process easier for you and those around you. Over time, your confidence will grow along with your acceptance and support from those who matter. Come on?
Part 1 of 3: Finding out what you mean
Step 1. Know your "audience"
Think of the people in your life you trust. You probably have some friends or relatives who are more understanding and loving than others, right? Assess who could support you and who probably wouldn't.
- If you are a minor, the process will likely be a little more complicated as your parents are still legally responsible for you. If you believe they won't accept you as you are, talk to a trusted friend or relative first. It's good to have someone on your side before coming out transgender to your parents.
- First, focus on preparing to take on your situation to people who like you and are trustworthy.
- You don't need to come out transgendered to everyone at the same time. Build a strategy and tell your allies first.
Step 2. Find out and do the necessary research
It's always a good idea to know all the issues related to gender. Understand what questions your friends and relatives may have about your gender identity and get informed to demonstrate maturity. The idea is to make it clear that you've thought a lot about the situation and accepted it from the bottom of your heart.
- Find books and other reading materials on the internet or in your community. Look for youth NGOs that have leaflets and other informational materials for anyone who is going through a situation similar to yours.
- Depending on the region in which you live, it is possible to find houses that act as centers to receive LGBT+ people who are homeless for any reason. In these places, you are sure to find people to talk to who can help a lot. This is the case of Casa1 in São Paulo and Casinha in Rio de Janeiro.
- There are several NGOs, virtual and physical, that can help you better understand your rights as a transgender person. In São Paulo, there is the Diversity Reference Center, with lectures, conversation circles and awareness-raising exhibitions.
- Search for community centers and LGBT group meetings in your area through social media. Chances are, there's something like that near you.
- If gender identity issues are causing you to have suicidal thoughts, contact CVV at 188 and talk to one of the professionals. They are trained to provide emotional support and prevent suicide. You are not alone!
Step 3. Write a letter
Putting everything you're thinking about on paper can help you find your voice and focus on what you'd like to say. No matter who you write the letter to, be polite and give the person space to process the information.
- The letter can help you focus on what you would like to say, without interruption.
- If you are going to use the text as a basis for coming out as transgender, remember that you can rewrite it as many times as you like, until you are comfortable with what you would like to say. For example, let's say that in the first sketch, your tone is either angry or hurt. Reread the text and try to modify it to demonstrate how you became a stronger and more confident person with your own body and what feels right for you.
- Writing can reduce the pressure of face-to-face conversation, and it's also helpful when the person you want to come out to is far away. For example: "I know it's been a while since we last saw each other. I hope we can get back together soon so I can tell you more about what's been happening to me. I've been struggling with my identity for years and I want to be able to speak openly about what has happened to me in the future."
- Leave the letter nearby on the day you meet the person in question. Read it a few times to remind yourself of everything you would like to say.
Step 4. Practice what you would like to say out loud
Sometimes it's good to practice for a conversation as you would a speech or presentation, as this will help you find the right tone and words and make you more comfortable with what you want to say.
- Find a private place to practice.
- If you've been transgendered to someone, ask that person to help you practice the conversation.
- Don't rush to say it all at once. Control the pace and allow the person to process everything you have to say.
Part 2 of 3: Becoming transgender
Step 1. Find the best time and place to assume your gender identity
Always think in terms like "who, what, where and how much". Choose trustworthy people to talk to, in a neutral and safe place; give preference to private environments, where no one can overhear the conversation without being invited.
- Choose a time that will not be interrupted by other activities, events or obligations. You should have enough time to talk.
- It's better not to have this conversation at school or at work. Avoid places that have people you may not trust.
Step 2. Demonstrate trust and sincerity during the conversation
It's important to want to come out transgendered, not feel like you have to. Remember, life is yours and all your decisions are up to you. Be confident in who you are and candidly share your experiences being transgender. Understand your own gender identity.
- It's your life, and only you can decide how you want to have the conversation. Be yourself and use your past experiences to know what to do. For example, it might be a good idea to talk about the things they struggle with, such as feeling out of place around their cisgender peers. If accepting gender identity was a relief for you, share that too.
- Think carefully about how you describe what it feels like to be a transgender person.
- When speaking of yourself as a transgender person, do so confidently and firmly. Be flexible and know how to respond to what others have to say: "I'm sure I'm transgender. I know you might have questions or don't know what to say. It's okay! I'm all ears."
Step 3. Be patient
The acceptance process will not happen overnight, and things will continually change as you and your loved ones understand more about gender identity. Know that as you get older, go to other schools, get other jobs, and interact with other people, the process of revealing your gender identity may have to repeat itself. Be patient!
- As nervous as you may feel at first, being honest with yourself and the people you are about will make you feel better in time.
- Accept that not everyone will understand the process the way you do. Be patient with those who want to help but don't quite understand what's happening to you. For example, if someone says "But you don't look transgender," be patient and explain what being transgender means to you rather than trying to correct the other person.
- Try to stay relaxed and calm by doing stress-relieving things before the conversation. Deep breathing and meditation can be helpful.
Step 4. Sit down and talk about your gender identity
Learn to be open and direct, in a loving way, with your friends and family. Let them respond and ask questions. It doesn't matter if the ration is shock, frustration or even support, stay calm and be respectful. Tell us about your journey and your desire to make the gender transition.
- Be willing to answer the questions, no matter how awkward they are. If you don't know the answer, provide them with the resources they need to understand more about the subject.
- Allow time for them to respond, and understand that their first reactions may not represent how they feel in the future. Sometimes shock and confusion can affect people's reactions.
- Be aware that some people may react out of ignorance, fear for your safety, or even try to change your mind. Make it clear that you are taking the process seriously and have thought of all this.
- Help debunk myths and stereotypes. For example, if someone asks if you're going to be a drag queen, respond with information about what it's really like to be transgender.
Step 5. End the conversation if it isn't giving you the desired results
In some cases, having a conversation about the gender transition may not go as expected. If you feel the person is not being kind or respectful, put a tentative end to the conversation. It is better!
For example, say something like "Thanks for listening to me, but that's all I wanted to share now. We can talk more about this in the future" or "I'd like to talk more about this, but I have to go. See you soon!"
Step 6. Weigh the pros and cons of coming out as a transgender person on the internet
Conventional wisdom says it all depends on the audience. Some people won't accept your decision, but you're sure to get a lot of support. Many people have different "circles" for different social networks, or may have more followers on a specific network. It's best to reveal yourself first on the site where you feel you'll be better accepted.
- Think about how you would like to come out. Want to include a photo in your post? Prefer a simple sentence, like "I'm trans", or a text. It depends on you. Just try not to be overdone or corny.
- After the post, reply and like the positive comments.
- If you receive negative comments, please delete them and avoid contacting the person. If someone wants to block you for it, that person's bad luck. Trust me, you have enough friends already!
Part 3 of 3: Seeking Support
Step 1. Seek advice from trusted friends and family
Keep in touch with people close to you and who are on your side, no matter what. Ask about the difficulties they have had in their own lives and how they have overcome them. Show that you care about what they have to say.
- The support of people close to you can reassure you and help you as you become transgender to others.
- The fact that they do not have transgender friends or family members does not mean that these people do not have problems with their own identity either. For example, you could ask something like "Have you ever felt like you didn't belong somewhere, or that you didn't fit into a situation?"
- We all feel different or misunderstood at one time or another. Use this as a way to connect with other people, not to distance yourself from them.
Step 2. Talk to professionals about the physical transition
Many people who want to make the gender transition decide to make physical changes to their bodies. If you're going through difficulties, not knowing exactly what to do, it's a good idea to look for specialists who have already helped people in situations similar to yours.
- Talk to a doctor about physical changes, including hormone replacement therapy or surgery. Look for a professional who specializes in these types of medical procedures to find someone who will support your decision and help you perform well-informed procedures.
- It is also a good idea to consult a psychologist about the gender transition process. The professional will help you think through your decisions and deal with your concerns. Chances are, you will find psychologists or therapists who specialize in dealing with LGBT issues by doing individual or group sessions.
Step 3. Connect with the LGBT community
Whether in person or through the internet, know that there are people who can help you with the process of embracing your new gender identity. You don't need to isolate yourself or feel lonely right now as you decide how to talk to friends and family. It's a good idea to talk to people who are or have been through similar situations, believe me!
- Find support groups and forums on the internet. These are good options for those who aren't ready for a face-to-face conversation.
- Find community centers in your area to talk to professionals.
- You can also search for groups that have hotlines that can help you.
- Don't rush the conversation, and always trust who you are. You are in a process of self-discovery that can be very rewarding.
- Think carefully when planning the time to come out as a transgender person. Ideally, chat at an uninterrupted time, with plenty of time to answer questions.
- Allow time for people to adjust to their new reality. It may come as a shock to them, but they are likely to accept it in time.
- If you're not sure how to talk about it, put everything you're feeling down on paper.
- If you have transitioned and changed your name, find your school or job and let them know immediately so that they refer to you by the officially designated name. Depending on your location, you don't even have to officially transition to be called by the desired name.
- Nobody should force you to come out as a transgender person. Don't rush into this decision, and do everything with as much planning as possible, for your own safety and well-being.
- Coming out transgender can make some friends and family refuse to talk to you. Unfortunately, this is a consequence of ignorance and resistance to change. Focus on the people who will talk to you and love you most of all.
- Call the authorities or a trusted adult if you experience any threats or harassment. Your safety comes first.
- It's nice to have a place to go in case things don't go according to plan and you have to leave the house. The home of a close and understanding friend or relative is ideal.