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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

Person in white and black floral button up shirt sitting as they are handed a black tie and watch

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

Two men hug at club.

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

brown concrete statue of man facepalming under white sky during daytime

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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Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.

Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.