You have known who you are for a long time. You may have also worked hard to hide parts of yourself hoping that no one would find out. After years of hiding, denying, and pretending that your gender identity lines up with your sex assigned at birth, you can’t take it anymore.
You have arrived at your tipping point. Embracing your sense of self and knowing that you can’t go back to a life of hiding who you are may lead you to take the next step, which is coming out as your true self.
Your gender identity isn’t a choice. You don’t “decide” on your gender identity. The only decision you will make is if you come out or not.
This looks different for each person. Your current level of support and how you feel about yourself may factor into your decision to come out. You are the only person that can make the decision.
Here are three groups of people in your life that you need to decide if you want to come out to.
Coming out to your friends
You have probably already come out to at least one friend in real life or online. You may be worried about coming out to your other friends. How will they react or you’re your relationship with them change?
You don’t know how they will respond. The thought of losing a friend can be scary, but you have to be you. It’s no one else’s business who you are, however, if you come out to your friends there is a good chance you will get support.
If it’s a good friend, they want what’s best for you. If they don’t, then you need to re-evaluate the relationship.
Coming out to your partner(s)
The decision to come out to your partner(s) about your gender identity is a big one. There is so much at stake.
Will they leave me, hate me, or not accept me? Many questions like this may be causing you anxiety. It may also lead you to feel stuck. You have tried to hide who you are, but you are tired of pushing down this part of you.
Weigh the pros and cons of coming out to them with a focus on your need, to be honest, and happy. The cost of not coming out may be much higher than staying hidden. You desire an authentic relationship, but that starts with you.
Coming out to your family
Some families are in shock or denial when they find out their loved ones is transgender or gender nonbinary. Others, often say they knew something was different or they thought their loved one was gay.
You know the difference between sexual identity and gender identity, but they may not. Your decision to come out to your family can feel terrifying and liberating at the same time. If they aren’t supportive, you may lose your housing, economic support, and abandonment among other things.
All families are not the same. I hope you have one that wants you to be happy and healthy, but many of you don’t have this. Some family members tell you they want you to be happy and live your life unless it causes them discomfort. Regardless of how it affects your family, you are responsible for being you. Coming out is a risk, but it can also be a lifesaver.
No one can tell you if coming out is worth it for you. Only you can make this decision. From my experience as a cisgender therapist working with LGBQIA+ individuals, I know very few people who decided not to come out and have been okay with that decision.
You’re coming out experience is a marathon, not a sprint. It may take months or even years for your loved ones to find acceptance. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself compassion. You deserve an authentic life just like everyone else.
Is your chance at happiness, peace, and a well-lived life worth coming out as your true self?