5 Things That Happen When People Come Out as Trans
There are a lot of changes that happen to trans people over the course of their lifetime, but some of the most difficult or impactful ones can come at the very beginning of their transition. The experience of coming out is a unique one for every person who has to go through it, but it can be a very happy or relieving time as well. Here are just a few examples of the very long list of things that can happen to trans people when they come out.
1. Social Norms Change In Many Ways
Society projects expectations of masculinity when you come out as a trans man.
Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash
Whether you come out as a trans (binary) person or nonbinary, you should know that your social norms will change in many ways. The world, especially in western culture, is unfortunately very binary when it comes to gender and aggressively forces these concepts upon anyone. When you come out as transgender, you may begin to notice those around you who are supportive (and sometimes even if they aren’t) will start assigning you roles matching your presenting or identified gender—whether they do this intentionally or subconsciously will vary widely.
For example, noticeable changes for transgender males can look like many of the things that we had previously been exempted from. Shaking hands instead of giving hugs as a greeting, the unspoken rules of the guy code, and a noticeable effort to try to mold into a more culturally masculine role. This is not to say that you should be expected or have to do these things, but it is definitely something that is noticed and almost seems expected after coming out.
2. Confidence Levels Will Boost
After you come out as trans—and especially if you have a sound support system around you—you'll be able to live a more authentic you! As time goes on, you will notice that confidence levels were boosted dramatically due to gender affirmations socially, emotionally, and physically.
This can happen in a lot of ways for transgender men. You may have started to speak up more often, given a new wave of pride and confidence in yourself. This may also be partly because societal norms expect men to have something to say, but it can also just feel more comfortable speaking your mind in front of people and showing them your true self for the first time. For others, this could be manifest in wearing that outfit you thought was daring, or maybe it's walking with your head a little higher because others are seeing you more as you have seen yourself. Whatever it is, own it! You didn’t spend all of that time in the closet for nothing!
3. Mental and Emotional Health Changes Will Occur
Find friends who will support you as you come out as trans.
Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash
One of the very fluid things that happen once you come out is your mental health changes. This one is truly dependent on your unique experience coming out of the closest and the people you have around you. Many transgender people experience A LOT of backlashes; not only from family and friends but from the community legislatures and politicians alike.
But many are able to build a strong support system around themselves or create a new family they truly connect with and feel like they belong in. Doing this will help your mental health in many ways: you no longer have to feel so alone and you do not have to bear all the weight of your coming out experience alone. There were definitely things, people, and situations where your mental health could plummet, and you'll have to rely on others to be strong for you as well as encouraging. Other times you could be so relieved and affirmed because of your coming out that you think nothing could ever stop you from being so happy.
However your coming out experience goes, and no matter the ups and downs that come along with it, always find and lean on those who support you.
4. Awkward Questions Trans People Were Asked
Questions like the following lead to painfully awkward conversations that felt more like interrogations. And yes, these are all real questions that have been asked to transgender people. One thing you should prepare for is all of the absurd, awkward, and straight-up dumb questions people have the gall to ask you. Granted, some of them will be very respectful, such as which pronouns you prefer to use or what name you’d like to be called, but most are pretty ignorant.
- “Why did they call you she/he/they instead of _____?”
- “Wait, I thought you were ___ gender?”
- "What name did you choose?” or “Why did you choose that name?”
- “What do your parents think of you coming out?”
- “Wait, so are you lesbian/gay now?”
It is always shocking to get asked these questions when you come out to them, even if they were trying to come from a good place. The thing trans people have to keep in mind is that most cis people haven't spent hours on YouTube scrolling and watching transgender content to understand all the lingo and processes. Hell, many of them have probably never even read about a transgender person or anything related anywhere. They weren't doing such in-depth research to find ourselves in the mess of humanity.
So, keeping this in mind, remember there are going to be a lot of awkward questions as soon as you come out as trans because people are clueless. You may be the first out transgender person people you know have ever met. Many people don’t even know someone who knows an out trans person. It’s a sad reality, but education and experience just aren't reaching the general public.
With that said, it’s not your job to be the educator—whether you will or won't be is your decision—and anyone who makes you feel like you have to is not really there for you. There are plenty of resources that anyone can access, just like you probably did, to learn more about the ins and outs of what it means to be trans. They can put in the effort just as easily as you did. But, if you feel safe and want to engage, educating a friend or family member about your specific situation can be helpful.
5. Inappropriate Questions Trans People Were Asked
Questions that make us facepalm are as old as time—and they're unfortunately common when you come out as trans.
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
In addition to all of the awkward things that people are going to ask, you will definitely have someone (or more) around you who has no sense of social boundaries. You’ll also probably have someone around you who thinks that because you’re coming out to them, then they immediately get to know every small, intimate, and personal detail about you. These will be harder to deal with, not just because of the content but because it truly reveals the type of person you are talking to, which can cause problems.
- “So what’s in your pants?”
- “How do you have sex?”
- “When are you going to have surgery?” or “How are you going to have sex after surgery?” or “What are your genitals going to look like?!?”
- "When do you plan to start hormones?”
- “So if you’re not a transvestite, what’s the difference?”
Again, these are all very awkward and, this time, inappropriate questions that have actually been asked to transgender people. Again, even if they are well-intentioned, inappropriate questions can and will come with terrible timing. When someone was forced to come out to their mom, she immediately asked them if they were going to stop shaving their pubic hair. Because that’s the most important thing she needed to know at that moment. It is a terrible feeling to be put on the spot and feel like you have to think of an appropriate answer, even when there is none!
The best advice to be given regarding this is to tell someone they are being inappropriate, and it’s not your job to educate or explain why it’s inappropriate either. If they can’t understand why questions like those are inappropriate to ask anyone, not just you, then there is a lot more going wrong on their end that they need to work through. But overall, don’t let the complete idiocy of people get you down when you come out as trans.
Love Yourself and Come Out on Your Terms
While this is not an exhaustive list of all of the experiences and changes that a trans person will be faced with during their coming out, these are a few good things to keep in mind and prepare for when deciding when and how to start to come out as trans. It’s also good to remember that everyone has a completely different and individual perspective on life. That means that some of these things may not be applicable to a trans person during their coming out or that it may be a lot more or less extreme than described. Just remember that you should never be ashamed to be yourself—and make sure to come out when and how it's best for you. Coming out is difficult, so be proud of yourself for starting that journey, even if it's only with yourself right now!
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