I plan on coming out to more people and it is scary

Over the next 2-3 months, I plan to start coming out to more people in my personal life. I have internally debated the proper time to start telling more people throughout my transition (and before), and I am fairly set on slowly doing so over the next couple of months. While this is a decision that I have made upon serious reflection, it is also partially an act of necessity. I am having more and more difficulty convincingly presenting as a man in front of strangers; I doubt that the changes would go unnoticed by people who actually know me. I have avoided most face-to-face contact with family and friends for the last year, however many people have announced their intentions and plans to visit me now that COVID-19 restrictions are loosening. In light of potential upcoming visitors and a desire to share my gender identity, I am going to begin expanding the circle of people who know that I am transitioning. I started this yesterday.

Yesterday, I came out as transgender to a second person, my best friend. We have been friends for over 6 years and he is probably the person that I interact with the most and knows me best. This level of personal intimacy and interaction made coming out to him incredibly scary. I knew that there was a decent risk that coming out as trans to him would be the end of our friendship and I was really scared of losing that relationship. Losing a friendship of over six years is significant and would really hurt me. I don’t have many other friends and none that I am as close with. I was so anxious about telling him that I had a panic attack the morning of. I was probably more scared and anxious for telling this friend than I was for telling my own sister.

Despite my serious concern, coming out to my friend went far better than I had anticipated. I had anticipated a neutral response as the best case scenario (in part because he is quite religious), but he was incredibly positive and encouraging about me coming out. It definitely took him by surprise but he didn’t make it weird or anything. He pretty quickly admitted to being fairly ignorant on the topic (a level of honesty that I really appreciated) and asked a lot of good, insightful questions without ever being insensitive. He genuinely wanted to understand and support me and I don’t think you can ask for much better than that. I am honestly overwhelmed by how well it went especially after preparing myself for potentially losing the friendship.

The next people that I plan to come out to are my parents and by proxy the rest of my family. I have been pushing off telling them for a while but I think it is time to do so. They are supposed to visit me within the next month (although that is now subject to change) and this seems like the ideal time to tell them. It is important to me that I come out to them face-to-face and this will be my first chance to do so in quite a while. I don’t have a lot of hope that coming out to them will go well, I am even more pessimistic about telling them than I was about telling my friend. I would not describe either of my parents as being very supportive of the LGBT community in general and any support they do give is exclusively for the first two letters. Coming out to my parents will probably be the most anxiety-inducing conversation yet.

Coming out to people is scary and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less so. I have been very selective in who I tell so far, in part because I didn’t want the news that I am transgender to spread uncontrollably. Being in control of the narrative of my own identity is very important to me, there are several people that I want to tell myself and I don’t want them hearing it secondhand filtered through another’s ignorance. But every additional person I tell risks my gender identity being exposed to beyond my control. In this way coming out to someone doesn’t just risk severing the relationship I have with that person, it also risks me losing control of the narrative. This is terrifying to me and something that I have tried to juggle with the desire to share this information with more people. I don’t have much hope of keeping my transition and gender identity secret much longer, but that was ultimately inevitable. Coming out is scary, but I feel that it is necessary.

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