Transgender Sign in Pride Parade

To begin, a quick history lesson will keep you up to date with all the work transgender people have put forth in order to help Pride month happen in the first place. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights dates back further than one usually imagines but, in particular, is typically marked by the Stonewall Riots. Led by Marsha "Pay It No Mind" Johnson, a transgender woman of color who helped the New York activist scene for over 25 years, the Stonewall Riots began on June 28th, 1969 in New York. Alongside Sylvia Riveria, a Latina trans woman, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson led one of the most important queer liberations in history.

image of Marsha P Johnson smiling. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson | petcor80 | Flickr

While the Riots remain a huge moment in history, many often forget those who played front-facing roles in it. Marsha was only 23 years old at the time but was a fearless, ferocious, brave leader who tackled injustice head-on in the riots. In addition to this, she was also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a shelter for homeless transgender youth; she was a big activist for the BIPOC and LGBT+ community, and STAR was revolutionary in many ways, including being the first-ever LGBT+ shelter in North America which was also the first organization in the US to be run by a trans woman of color. Marsha's contributions toward the first Pride parade preceded it by an entire year- the first pride parades came a year after the stonewall riots to commemorate it. Her legacy will live on through her acts and is celebrated by members of the LGBT+ community alike every pride.

With that out of the way, being trans during pride month can hold a lot of meaning for a lot of people, especially given the incomparable history led by transgender women that helped to shape the LBGT+ community today. Pride itself has a long history rooted in defying gender normalities and cisgender, heteronormative ideals. That, in it itself, is a lot to be proud of- let alone each individual's transgender experience that brings more color to personal pride. It is something to celebrate, our own continuation, contribution, and resistance to oppression. For those who are out as transgender, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, nonbinary, or identify anywhere outside of the cisgender binary, just being yourself and expressing your gender identity is a way of celebrating this. And it is momentous to do so! However, of course, it's not the only way; going to pride parades, celebrating with friends, or having your own celebration is just as good, if not more fun. Going to pride marches, participating in pride events or activities, and any form of activism are great ways of acknowledging and indulging in the history that brought us here.

stormy sky with a hand reaching above the dark water.

Reaching out for help

Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

But, of course, there is always the other side of the coin because this can be extremely difficult for some due to past experiences or traumas. And for others, this is not an option because (and unfortunately, more often than not) coming out is not a safe, viable option due to age, location, and often the stiff political climate that makes transgender people stay hidden. So while there is a lot to celebrate and be proud of, we must also be prideful for those who are unable to be. Because in addition to the rich history of activism and change, there is still an extreme deficit and predisposition to suicide and murder. According to some of the most recent research, the transgender suicide rate is up to 43%, and once every three days, a transgender person is murdered, with transgender women of color being the most likely victims.

Efforts to calculate and track transgender murder rates are often hindered by laws and data collection, therefore reported numbers may not be the best representations. Alongside these statistics come very scary legislation, such as House Bill 151 and HF 184 that allow the 'inspection' of young girls' genitals in an effort to keep transgender girls from participating in sports. There are also bathroom bills, pronoun and name bills, and medical care acts that are trying to strip away our rights. The huge dark cloud of oppression still hangs heavily over many transgender people within the United States and is much worse elsewhere in the world.

But, these are all reasons to be more prideful as well. Trans people have historically risen above and fought to be themselves- and admit the oppression, we will continue to do so unapologetically. So despite all the sorrowfully realities we face, we must take them in stride and use them for our pride, We need to keep them in mind not just to remember the reality but to be able to say, "This is what we deal with and yet, we use it to fuel our pride." Because the reality is that we are all making history just by existing and that is something to celebrate. So take pride in everything and for everyone, especially for those who may not be able to themselves. Pride month is a time to celebrate ancestors, self-discovery, friendship, and much more, so if you are able to, do so!

Activism has always and will continue to be a huge part of pride until there is equity for every minority group. So consider using these resources to continue your activism of change towards trans rights and equality. You can do so by contacting your legislators regarding your local anti-trans legislature. Or if you are able, donate to funds that support transgender persons legally! And if you're unable to do either and are in need of support, here are a few resources that may help: The Trevor project; 1-866-488-7386 Trans Life Line; 1-877-565-8860.

Author's Note: It is important to not only recognize and acknowledge the deep-rooted history that transgender individuals had in creating equal opportunities and rights for the LGBTQ+ community but also recognize the deep-seated oppression that continues to plague the transgender community today, despite best efforts towards equality, justice, and freedom. When discussing Pride Month or any celebration of LGBTQ+ individuals, give credit where credit is due.

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Transgender Representation in the Media

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Hello my name is sign

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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