Health and Safety Notice: Before reading the principles outlined below, please check your birth certificate and ensure you are over 18 years of age, because this area of the website is for adults only. If you are, rather annoyingly, full of youth and indeed a child of the 21st century, then you should consult your school, college or university for advice, or indeed the Departments of Education or Health, on all aspects of coming out.
This page is to assist trans-people in the closet who want to come out and present themselves as they feel most comfortable, but because of relationship, lifestyle and cultural factors it is a daunting decision.
There is no definitive text book on this subject so these principles are based on experience rather than medical science or psychology, so they are for general guidance, they may or may not work for everyone and anyone, but hopefully will give you food for thought, so you can customise your trans-journey to accommodate your own needs and emotions. Good luck in your quest.
What are you feeling now?
No doubt you have a myriad of feelings running through your mind. You probably find great comfort from putting on clothes, make-up, shoes, a wig, or changing other attributes about you that enhance that feeling of femininity or masculinity you so desire. You will want to talk and behave differently, corresponding to you preferred gender presentation. But you feel:
Denial - you bury your gender expression desires to a dark corner of your mind and try to ignore them, but they always gnaw at your conscious mind, causing you continuous anxiety and "gender dysphoria"
10 Principles of Coming Out
These principles are based on experience and hopefully will assist in making the coming out process as painless as possible, enhancing your quality of life and without losing the love and respect of all those that you care about.
Principle 1 - Be careful with the "T" word. If you haven't told anyone yet that you are transgender it may not be wise unless you are confident they will immediately accept your transition to another gender. The word "transgender" is very new in the English language and it means different things to different people. It is only transgender people that really know and understand the whole concept of transgender; most other people, including friends and family, are unlikely to be knowledgeable or have been mis-informed, and as a result may draw the wrong conclusions and make incorrect assumptions, inevitably to your detriment. Apply Principle 2 below.
Principle 2 - Focus on Feelings. Transgender is not an illness or a disorder, it is a state of being, like being short or tall, musically gifted, left or right-handed. But the rejection by our culture of transgender people causes negative feelings, for example depression, despair, loneliness, anxiety, fear, inadequacy, poor self-esteem and possible suicidal thoughts. It is these negative feelings that you must communicate to everyone and leave it to the medical establishment to make the diagnosis that they are related to gender identity issues, see Principle 3 below.
Principle 3 - Medical Authentication. People place blind faith in our doctors and trust that if the medical establishment authenticates a condition, it gives that condition validity. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your negative feelings and the impact on your life, including relationships, mental stability and suicidal thoughts. Allow the doctor to make the diagnosis that these are attributable to gender identity issues, you will easily be able to steer him that way, for example by telling him/her that your anxieties are reduced if you wear various clothes as a source of comfort. Don't accept superficial treatments like anti-depressant tablets, make the case that you need help from a mental health professional, like a counsellor or psychotherapist. Eventually the aim should be referral to a Gender Identity Clinic, but it must be the medical establishment that makes that recommendation, not you. By taking this medical authentication approach, your friends, family and anyone else, will be more accepting of the eventual "gender dysphoria" diagnosis.
Principle 4 - Show Consideration. Once you have been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, and you are transgender, your friends, family and everyone else will have a range of emotions, but inevitably some will be negative (otherwise you wouldn't be afraid to come out in the first place). Be sensitive to their needs and feelings because they have now unwillingly embarked on a journey into the unknown, and which can be an emotional roller coaster ride for them as much as you. Show them the appropriate empathy and consideration; this way you will be joining them side by side on the journey you have all now embarked, you will be fighting on the same side rather than opposing sides. They will see this and hopefully in turn provide you with the empathy and support you need.
Principle 5 - Don't Rush. If you show signs that you hastily want to transition away from your current gender expression to one that you desire, your friends and family might be concerned, even angry, with your over-enthusiasm! Take your time, try and move at a pace that they find acceptable. It may take several years to get to your final destination, but if you take your time you will arrive safe and robust, rather then ravaged and torn apart by the whole process.
Principle 6 - Proportionality. Each trans-person's transition away from their unwanted gender identity takes different routes and ends at different destinations; some want full social, physical and legal changes whilst others may only want partial changes. But the universal misconception is that all transgender people want total transition from one binary gender to the other, which is not the case, there are many gender-fluid and non-binary people. The fact is only 25%-40% have genital plastic surgery (see appropriate text books referenced in this website). It is important to tell your friends and family exactly what proportion of the transition process you want to experience, to set their expectations of what will happen in the months and years ahead.
Principle 7 - Indulge in Trans culture. Try and make friends with other trans-people, ideally physically, but also online. All trans-people by their nature will provide you with love, support and care, it goes with the trans way of life. They will provide the comfort and care you need during your transition, they will give you strength through the bad times and the determination to reach your gender presentation goals. Inevitably they will meet your non-trans friends and family, who will in turn see that the trans sub-culture is full of wonderful and loving people and will share your happiness in your new gender presentation.
Principle 8 - You Don't Need to "Pass". For any trans-person, especially trans-feminine, unless you have been very lucky at birth, there may be aspects of your physical presentation that will be difficult or impossible (or impossibly expensive) to change. If you are 6 foot 6 inches tall with large hands and size 13 shoes, it doesn't matter how much hormone treatment and plastic surgery you have, you will still not easily pass as a woman. Historically many trans-people were desperate to "pass" in their acquired gender to avoid the inevitable stigma, abuse, victimisation and harassment, but in today's Western Society everyone is much more accepting and accommodating of people who look different. Don't beat yourself up and allow the gender dysphoria to continue, accept and love yourself as you are ("How to Jedi Mindtrick your Gender Dysphoria", by Felix Conrad, is definitely a good read). And if you do, everyone else will respect you.
Principle 9 - Add Extra Value. Unfortunately in our society there are many people whose views on trans-people are negative; they regard us as people who willfully disobey the unwritten rules and regulations of the contemporary binary-gendered culture. One option a trans-person has to counter-balance this negativity is to do something significantly and overtly positive, something that makes them morally superior to the accusative non-transgender people. This can be interpreted as "adding extra value" to the community, for example doing unpaid community work, volunteering to help with extra-curricular activities at work, or working for a charity. Or it could be as simple as being a charming and cheerful person to meet in the pub or cafe when presenting in your acquired gender; or wearing clothes, make-up and accessories that are overtly aesthetically pleasing to other people, rather than a more run-of-the-mill appearance. Whatever your clothing choice, make sure you wear a smile.
Principle 10 - Be Proud. Transgender is not an illness or disorder, it is a state of being, just like being musically gifted, athletically gifted or academically gifted. It is in your DNA, it is in your soul, it is who you are. Be proud of who you see in the mirror, it is your right to present your gender as you feel most comfortable. Exercise your right by walking the walk, take a stroll down your high street presenting yourself to the world as your true self; you are majestic, hold your head high and look people in the eye, they may think it's their high street too, but it's not, YOU OWN IT!