I promised in my last column, ‘Parental Guidance’, to offer my words of wisdom on how to come out about transitioning to family members and loved ones. I took a little extra time to reflect on this follow up column in order to offer up my best advice.
First off, I cannot tell a lie, coming out about being transgender is never going to be an easy situation. An important life event such as this requires thought and planning. It will not only affect you but will indeed affect those who have known you before transition, regardless of a positive or negative reception. Before you have “The Talk”, take time to process your emotions, collect your thoughts, and set your goals. You want to be prepared for your new life and all the obstacles that you will face whether it be discrimination, surgeries, or hormone therapy. Having this foundation will help not only you but others understand that you are no different from anyone else in this world. Transgender people fight a never ending battle with ignorance and discrimination daily. But I say no pain no gain. If transitioning is what you truly desire, be motivated, be confident, be vigilant, and be proud that you are going to live your life in pursuit of your happiness. So, without further ado, are my 5 steps to coming out to your family of which I’m extremely intimate with.
Is this what you truly want? Think about how important transition is to you. It is normal to have insecurities when you start transitioning. In moments of hardship do not let negativity run your life. You have the power to decide what affects you or does not. Let that be your mantra for inspiration and motivation for your new life.
2: Have a plan
Contemplate how this affects your lifestyle and overall goals. What will or needs to change or be tweaked ? Basic things like Passports or your Driver’s License for example. Maybe you need to learn how to apply makeup by watching YouTube videos and other online content. Also, think about how this will affect your job, family, and friends. Have a plan for your new life. If your friends aren’t accepting of you, it’s sad to say but totally true: it’s time to find new friends. So keep in mind this change will permeate everything you do and are. Be prepared.
3. Live a day
You won’t truly understand your feelings and the sense of empowerment of being transgendered unless you live a day in those shoes. Whether you’re transitioning to male or transitioning to female, it is important to experience this. Try on some make up and pick out an outfit that reflects who you are and go out for a day. It doesn’t have to be extreme. You can wear a casual outfit and go to the store or take a stroll in a park. If nightlife is more your thing, pick out something hot to wear and go to a party or hang with friends. Trust me, you won’t fully grasp it until you try it.
Hormone therapy is a process most, if not all, transgender people endure to have your body reflect who you are. This brings about amazing, rapid, apparent changes. It may be breast tissue or facial hair, a voice change or skin texture. Understand that once you are on hormones for a few months it will be difficult to revert back to your original physical state. This is one of the most crucial decisions you will make as a transgendered person.
5. “The Talk”
Your family will never fully comprehend the decisions you make or how you live your life, but because you have completed steps 1-4, you are now prepared for any questions they may ask. You are coming in to the conversation with first-hand knowledge of being transgendered along with a plan and an understanding of the steps it entails to transition. This approach shows you are just as capable as anyone else and able to be respected for your choice. Being the strong one in this situation helps as this is a very sensitive situation. By being able to guide and educate your family you can empower them and give them the tools to better cope with this drastic change.
In the end, regardless of your family’s action or the reactions of those around you, you know who you are, what you want, and the life that makes you happy! Be proud of that and welcome to the community!