The Five Things I’ve Learned About Coming Out

Generally, it is kind of straightforward.

In case you missed it, live under a rock, or (HEY!) visiting my blog space for the first time here on Medium, I came out as Transgender to the world earlier this month.

Life is beginning to settle in after coming out as my wife and I prepare to move to a new state for me to start a new job.

The past few weeks have been a learning experience in so many ways. In this space, I’ve committed to be as transparent as possible about the trans experience in the hopes that someone who was where I was a year or two before (or a month or two) will be able to take what I write and feel a bit less alone and empowered to live your truth.

The step of coming out to the world is admittedly scary. It was the moment when I started on my path to transition that I knew was coming, it was unavoidable, and I’m unafraid to admit I was dreading it for quite a long time.

Now that we are on the other end, I can say that overcoming my fears leading up to Out Day helped the process, but there have definitely been some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

So without further adieu, here’s a few lessons I’ve learned over the past few weeks since coming out:

1)Generally, the awkwardness doesn’t disappear

By that I mean you’ll replace hiding a part of you to the world to doing all sorts of new things that you are probably going to be unsure of yourself with in this time period.

First time using a public restroom corresponding to your new gender identity, especially as a MtF when you don’t have a full suite of make up on? Yeah that’s awkward and scary. First time grocery shopping in leggings and a t-shirt with barely any make up on? Yep, you still feel like everyone’s staring at you (they’re not by the way).

But the good thing is, the second and third time were easier. And it keeps getting easier and more normal each successive time beyond that.

So yes, coming out is great, but it’s full of awkwardness.

2)Just because you came out to the world, doesn’t mean you have come out to everyone

It seems contradictory but it’s totally not.

That first time you go to that restaurant everyone knows you as your old self, and they aren’t your facebook friend, you may still have to have ‘the conversation’ a few times.

This happens, and it will continue to happen, I’m guessing for awhile.

Also generally prepare for some people to just be awkward around you even though they support you. It is the adjustment period I suppose, and I’m good natured enough to see through it — but you definitely have to develop a thick skin and don’t take any small slight too personal.

3)People Will Surprise You

There’s no other way to way it: Some people you expect to basically go full attack on you will actually be the ones leading the charge against the enemies of your new identity.

It’s always so surprising and humbling to have people go, “Yeah whatever your name is and how you identify is cool. You say you are you and I believe it. So we still going to do activity x-y-z we’ve always done?”

But also, there are going to be people who surprise you the other way. Someone who you figured would have your back won’t. Others will say it initially but they then exit quietly out of your life.

I could write a whole essay on this, but you just have to let people do their processing and those that aren’t sticking around probably can’t be forced to. Those that stick around are your friends, those that leave were in love with an idea of what you were but not who you actually are.

My best advice is don’t chase after anyone unwilling to support the most beautiful version of you.

4)You Won’t Feel Like Going All Out For Long

At first I truly felt like I had to prove something. For me as a MtF trans person that involves make up, the right outfit, and a chipper attitude in order to try to live up to a gender stereotype on steroids (sidenote: gender stereotypes are stupid, be yourself).

Like yeah, that’s great that you are trying to live up to an impossible idea, but it is not going to last long. That’s exhausting and we need to give ourselves a break.

For me, I basically honed my craft at make up and fashion long before I came out. In a lot of ways I was ready to roll when I did — your mileage may vary here — but I have also found there’s a special kind of self-grace that comes with saying, “I just need a break today and that’s ok.”

Of course not going all out has also been easy because I’ve been packing my life into boxes.

5)There Will Be Negativity, There Will Be Positivity

I’m still a sports person, and the best way to describe big games is that there will be good things happen and there will be bad things happen. You can’t let the highs be too high and the lows too low on the way to the finish line.

When it comes to transitioning and coming out, that is a great way to explain the day of and the days after.

Some bad things will happen. That friend you’ve known for years will unfriend/unfollow you and never say a word. You’ll have some people say a nasty thing. Family members will swear you’ve strayed away from a fundamentalist religion that you never were apart of to begin with. These are things, but they’re things that will happen and they’re expected and fine and totally bearable because…

Some good things will also happen. Friends will accept you as you. You’ll have dinner dates. Girls (or guys) movie nights. There will be people come back into your life and congratulate you. There will be people coming from every which way, especially if you have a wide net cast of acquaintances and friends who will go out of their way to congratulate you and *gasp* still treat you as a person.

Not to be too self-helpy, but the truth of this statement is valid: take the positives you find and forget the negatives. Internalize the good things, eschew the bad things.

The time just after transition is a time of awkwardness. It is a time of mixed emotions as you gain friends. Lose friends. See family go away. Other family members appear for the first time in awhile. Others will say negative things. Yet others who will say positive things.

There’s a lot about coming out that is a huge accomplishment. Celebrate that. Schedule time with trusted people to celebrate your progress and start building this new life you’ve claimed.

Most importantly, remember that coming out is just a step in the process. It won’t take all of your problems away, it won’t solve every strained relationship, it is just another step in your journey.

Keep stepping forward. One step at a time.

Tired, sore, and moving to a new state — but taking a step forward at a time.