I like to crossdress and I’m trying to totally come out of the closet but I’m afraid I might lose friends.
It’s easy for me to say that it doesn’t matter what people say or think and that we must live our lives for us, and for no one else. We can’t wait for the world to accept us and to tell us that it’s okay for us to be who we are, whether we identify as transgender or as a crossdresser.
I have no problem ignoring the stares or shrugging off any potential comments from people at a crowded mall. But coming out does have consequences. We never know what people will say or how they will react and the uncertainty makes it really difficult to come out to someone else. We know that coming out is risking losing a friend or ending a marriage. It’s understandable when we decide to not chance it when the stakes are that high.
But we know how hard it is to keep this side of us from others. We want to come out for different reasons. Some of us are just tired of keeping secrets. Some of us want to share this wonderful part of us. Some of us need a friend to talk to about this. I understand. I’ve been there. I’m still there, too. There have been times when I have almost come out to more of my friends. I remember being out to dinner and thinking that maybe it was time to come out to one of my oldest friends. He is a good person, a champion for the community, and I trust him more than most people in my life. But the nagging feeling of uncertainty held me back. It would have likely gone well, but I also knew that there was the smallest chance it might not.
It wasn’t worth it. I am out to enough people in my life where I feel I have a support system when I need it. But for some of us don’t have anyone and that support system has to start somewhere. Some of us feel the need to come out to everyone in their lives and that this part of us burns so bright that we need to share it with every person we know. For others, coming out to one or two people is enough.
I wish I could tell you the right words to say. I wish I knew how to get people to understand who we are and why we are. It would make writing that book that much easier. But everyone you come out to is different, everyone will have different reactions, and every relationship is different. Some reactions will go better than you could have dreamed, some will turn your life into a living hell.
I know. I know that’s not very encouraging. When we come out to someone, we are trusting that person to keep this a secret. This is a huge thing to ask. This is not something that most people expect to be told by someone else. It’s something that some people need to process and talk through with someone else. It’s not uncommon for someone needing someone to talk to when their brother, husband, boyfriend or whoever comes out to them.
This can go badly. I know I am not being very reassuring. I don’t know how to come out to someone, but I do know what we need to be thinking about and what we need to prepare for. Before you come out to someone, there are a few things I would advise you on.
-Know yourself. How do you identify? Is this just about dressing up? Do you identify as transgender? What does being transgender mean to you?
-Be prepared to answer questions about your sexuality. Yes, I know that this doesn’t really have to do with that, but you’ll likely be asked.
-Think about why you want to come to out to that particular person. I have come out to different people for different reasons. I came out to my brother because I felt it wasn’t fair for my sisters to know but he didn’t. I also thought it was good for them to have someone to talk to if they had feelings about this. When I came out to my sisters they asked why I was telling them. I was simply tired of keeping this from them. This is a huge part of me. I thought by being more open with who I am it would strengthen our relationships.
-Pace yourself. If you want to come out to multiple people it might be best to tell one person and then hold off for a bit. See how it feels. If it goes well, wonderful. When that happens it’s encouraging and we usually want to tell someone else as soon as we can. It’s easy to get caught up in coming out, but we need to think things through before we do it. Remember the pink fog?
Will people look at you and think of you differently? Yes. Yes they will. That’s the reality. But how they do that is impossible to predict. They may be weirded out, they may value your honesty. They may never speak with you again.
Again, I wish I could be more positive. Coming out to someone can be the best thing you ever do, but its naive to think that it will always go well.
Gosh, I am just a ray of sunshine with this, aren’t I?
If you need help talking about this before you talk to others, I would absolutely encourage you to find a therapist that is familiar with topics of gender or one specializes in the LGBTQIA community because, yes, we are part of that.
You can also attend a local PFLAG meeting where experienced counselors are available to help you accept and understand yourself but also help your friends and family.
I hope it goes well. I wish I could be more helpful.
Have a question for me? Oh yes you do. Ask me here!
One thought on “Ask Hannah!”
Hannah, a wonderfully written post about the unintended consequences of things that might be wished for, how they actually are and how they may end up being. 😉