Coming out Fears
National Coming Out Week 10/10/16–10/14/16
There are a lot of things that concern me about coming out, but the biggest fears I have all revolve around my family. There are other concerns as well, such as finding and/or holding a job, being assaulted on the street or in a public restroom, or being strip searched at an airport, just to name a few. The ones that terrify me the most, though, are all about my family. Will they accept me? Will I be kicked out of my home? Will I be allowed to come over for Christmas? Thanksgiving? Easter? Birthdays?
Most of my biggest fears are about coming out to my parents. Due to being a recent college graduate, I have found myself living with them again. If things go poorly, I could find myself in a couple of different situations. I could find myself in a position where I am routinely invalidated, misgendered, and disrespected, or I could find myself homeless. I don’t currently make enough money to pay rent, so I could potentially be left to live out of my car. Thankfully, I do have some pretty wonderful friends, so I’m sure I won’t have to live out of my car for long, if at all, but I could still be evicted from my home and left on my own.
Honestly, while I would hate to be left out of the yearly holiday get-togethers, I could live without those. All of my partners are amazing people, and I know I will have a place to be for the holidays regardless of whether that’s with my chosen or biological family. But there is something genuinely and physically painful about being rejected by your parents. These are the people who helped teach me how to be a person. They raised me and took care of me throughout my life and still help me out whenever they are able. They are some of the only people who, theoretically, should stand by my side through pretty much anything. If they’re not willing to stay by my side through my transition… that’s a loss that’s difficult to come back from.
Tomorrow (10/11/16) happens to be National Coming Out Day. It also happens to be the day I’ve decided to come out to my parents. Should things go extremely poorly tomorrow, I may very well be out of a home. At the very least, I will have some stressful days, and possibly weeks or months, of questions and justifying who I am as a person. It will be on my shoulders to educate my parents on what this all means, even though it really shouldn’t be. This is what makes coming out such a big deal for LBGTQIA+ folk, especially for the B, T, Q, I, and A folk.
While most lesbian and gay folk are pretty commonly accepted these days, people who fall under the bisexual and asexual umbrellas often have to spend time justifying their sexuality to others, even within our own community. Bisexual people are labeled as confused, just going through a phase, or only wanting attention. Asexual people are often told that there is something wrong with them or they just haven’t had the right kind of sex yet. Most often people are completely uneducated on asexual issues and what asexuality actually is.
Trans and intersex folk face an entirely different set of problems. Trans people have to practically beg and plead to be recognized as their proper gender and to receive the potentially necessary medical care for transition. Depending on where you live, finding the proper health care can seem impossible. And many intersex folk face nearly the opposite problem; many doctors insist on performing potentially damaging medical procedures to “correct” something that isn’t necessarily a problem.
My point is, coming out, however necessary, is an extremely personal thing. It is often incredibly stressful and terrifying, while still being extremely liberating and peaceful. I may have decided to come out to my parents on National Coming Out day, but that was purely coincidental. I decided that I truly needed to tell my parents who I am before more time passed. I hope I will have their support when the holidays come and I am faced with family who may refuse to properly acknowledge me. I hope they will stand by my side as I begin this phase of my life, and provide me with the support necessary to stand up and be proud of myself in a world that is constantly trying to invalidate me. I will be going through with my transition, with or without their support. It will just be much easier if they see me as their son.
In honor of National Coming Out Week (10/10/16–10/14/16), I leave you with this:
For many LGBTQIA+ folk, living your truth may result in the giving up of your family, friends, home, and even personal safety. Trans folk are still routinely beaten, murdered, and bullied to the point of suicide. Bisexual, intersex, and asexual folk are often told they don’t exist or that there is a problem with them. Even in the days of US-national marriage equality, there are still states that don’t have laws protecting same-sex couples or gay and lesbian individuals from discrimination. We tell people our truths for many different reasons, all deeply personal to the individual who is coming out. This secret is not yours to tell, should you know it.
I will be coming out because I know I can’t hide my transition. I don’t associate myself with my birth name, and being called “miss” or “ma’am” genuinely hurts. Looking down at my chest can be a genuine struggle, and hearing my voice makes me cringe. I need to make physical changes to myself in order to live the life I need to. I want a beard, a flat chest, and a much deeper voice. I want to be called “sir” over the phone and be able to be outside, topless without getting arrested. I can’t hide these changes from my family, so I need to tell them before I start to change. I need to try to make them understand the man I am, while they can still recognize the woman they thought I was. If they can empathize with her, hopefully they will be able to carry over that empathy to me, as I truly am.