Trans in the American South: Coming Out
There isn’t a guidebook for coming out as trans, even though I wish there were. I’ve been lucky that everyone I’ve come out to in my life has been supportive, or they haven’t been important enough for their opinion to matter to me.
For close to five years, my best friend would ask me if I was sure I wasn’t a trans guy. My answer was always a hardy “no, of course not!” Well, when she came out as trans to me in December of 2017, the idea kept popping up for me. For about six months, I struggled with it being on my mind more than it ever had been before. I talked to my best friend and joined trans spaces to figure out what I was feeling.
I eventually saw a video of someone talking about their transition and knew that’s what I wanted. I sobbed and for the first time, said the words I had been dreading. “I’m trans.” The next time I went into therapy, my therapist asked how I was and all I could say was “I’m a boy.” She helped me work to accept being trans and make plans on coming out.
I decided I’d come out on National Coming Out Day, October 13th. I ended up coming out to my family a month before that because I couldn’t handle not being able to talk to them about my struggles as a trans person. I’m still coming out to people at work, which I wasn’t expecting.
I thought that coming out would be a quick thing and would kind of happen all at once, but that’s not the way it happened for me. Coming out has been a journey of self exploration and unrealized fears.
If you’ve never had to come out to someone as LGBTQ+, you can’t understand the fear that comes with it. The fear of being disowned, beaten, or maybe even killed just for being open with who you are. I prepared to be disowned, and it never happened. I prepared for all my friends to leave me; it didn’t happen. I prepared to lose my job, because my state has no protections for trans folks. But it didn’t happen.
Every time that I have to have that talk with someone, my heart beats out of my chest and my hands shake. It’s terrifying, even if I know I’ll be accepted. Because things have been going to well for me, so something bad must be around the corner. Right?
So far, everyone has shown me support. Some people still mess up. I still get misgendered by people who don’t know. And I’m still afraid to be trans most days.
But I know I have a support system that will fight for me. I have people willing to advocate for my rights to be me.
Some people aren’t lucky enough to have been accepted by everyone they’ve told. All too often family, friends and religious groups turn their backs on a group of people that need that support more than most others. People don’t believe some of us. It’s hard.
So I guess the tl;dr of this is that coming out isn’t a one and done process and it’s scary even if you have support.
If you’re trying to come out to people in your life, know that I’ll support you. I believe you and will advocate for you.
We’ve always been here and always will be.