Not so long ago, someone asked about ideas or help around coming out. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do it, but it’s something that comes up in the Chameleons email and other places too. So, here are a few thoughts on the subject.
Aims: Do you know what you want to get out of coming out? If you are coming out to a partner, how long have you kept this from them? Is all of this new to you too? Try to be realistic and think of what you’d both be happy with: after all, there are two of you in this relationship. If it’s not to a partner, what does the other person get out of it? In either case, where does that person go for support? Are we off-loading on to them or sharing with them? Is there a difference?
Language: be wary of terms that might be misunderstood. Terms that the community know – MTF, AFAB, gender queer, bi-gender, trans, etc – will someone not in our circle know them? Does it matter if you don’t have a label and even if you did, would it make sense to someone else? If a trans friend said to me Oh, I’m MTF, would I assume they were male and are becoming female, or does ‘male to female’ in their story mean they prefer to be Janice and not John some days?
A Time & a Place: When you’re thinking about talking about T* stuff, be aware of where you and the time: 11pm on a school night may not be best 🙂 Give your partner a place to retreat to if you can. Please don’t come out with stuff in a restaurant or other public place where they can’t react and be themselves. Everyone is different: there might be tears, heated words, or a need to retreat.
Balance: be prepared to compromise and also know how to explain your wishes. There’s a safe space between giving in, being selfish, and knowing how to put your oxygen mask on. That might take some working out. Much as absolutes aren’t great, there are sometimes you both may need to give a little ground on. If that’s no to shaving arms or legs, but it’s okay if you dress when your partner’s out, can that work for you both? A situation where one partner is doing all the conceding, well, that’s a lot of ground given up: how might that feel?
It’s not all about T stuff: remember there’s more to the relationship than seeking permission and so don’t go in there thinking it’s about winning or losing. If you can try not to bang on about nothing else but gender stuff. Remember your partner in all of this and don’t forget there’s two of you in this.
The Fog: know your escape routes and beware the Pink Fog. If you can’t dress up, are there things you can do to turn the volume down a bit? Paint your toes, play a video game as a female character, bake/cook, paint, go cycling, take a long walk, etc. Anything to help keep you from being drawn into the Pink Fog and losing yourself in there. Maybe you get Friday Nights to be Fabulous: if so, great for you, but don’t let it take over if you can. Remember to enjoy what you have, try not to go nuts with the freedom you’ve got.