Reader Ramblings: On (Not) Coming Out

I recently added an Ask box to the blog – you might want to check it out. In the meantime, we have our first brave volunteer, who ignited a long rambling in my head which I’ve concisely bundled into a hopefully coherent rambling here.

Question

I just was curious as to how you first declared to your family and friends you were neutrois. I am going to have to go through this process this summer, and face a bunch of narrow minded misunderstandings and hypocritical lectures…as well as the threat to remove all college funds. Does it help to have support (because I’m pretty much going to be doing it on my own – if it helps though, I’ll try hard to find people).

Thoughts

To Preface

I have not officially come out as “neutrois” to anyone except my girlfriend. The rest know me as an “agender” or “gender-neutral” flavor of transgender. And by “the rest” I mean, like 3 more people: my brother, my father, and my mother, and indirectly several others. Yep, I haven’t done much of serious coming out in public, and the coming out I have done cannot be summarized in a short compact story – it’s been a long, drawn out process over the course of many many years, which continues in its insanity. Hence why I have yet to write the series of posts (cough, novel) about it.

That said, between myself and my girlfriend and others I know I have a diverse variety of coming out combinations which I will draw from to share some insight.

Predicting the Slightly Predictable

You are predicting that the results will be less than good – actually the forecast is potentially terrible, with “hypocritical lectures” and a “threat to remove all college funds.” Now, while this is pure speculation, I am sure it is grounded in something – either general thinking and environment, or previous comments at others or even specifically at you, etc.

So, from now I am going to take your word for it and assume that, most likely, you will receive a very negative reaction to your coming out.

Practical Advice

I already wrote a brief post on a Coming Out Plan. The main takeaways are: have a plan, have support, and expect to be surprised. And remember that surprise can swing in both good and bad directions.

Additionally, keep it simple. Don’t throw terms around they are not familiar with – don’t say “neutrois” and “aromantic asexual” because chances are if they’re already upset, they will now be upset and confused. Instead, ground them with concepts they already understand, and take it from there. Try keeping it on topic – being trans is different than being asexual, and while gender and sexuality are conflated often, steer the conversation towards keeping them separate issues.

Practice Makes Perfect

Before coming out to someone as substantial as your parents and family, you could try to come out to someone with less significance in your life, so that, should they have a bad reaction to it, the repercusions won’t be so dire. A practice coming out, if you will. Obviously you can’t compare your friends and acquaintances to your parents, but it could help a) practice what to say, b) gauge the level of understanding and c) prepare you for rejection, err, surprises. I realize this is not always possible or even a good idea, but it’s an option.

Support

You mention there is little chance of support. This should be your first red flag. Support is important. You need someone to fall back onto should it go all awry – support in the sense of comfort and assurance.

Furthermore, having support, as in having someone physically there while coming out to your family, not only makes it harder for others to outright reject you – because they not only have to face you but your support person as well – it can also promote a culture of tolerance, as there is living proof that someone else accepts you.

Don’t Come Out

Finally, don’t come out, unless you have to. It sounds like in your case the consequences are not worth the risk. If coming out means losing your college funds and all monetary resources, stay in the closet until you finish your education and can support yourself financially, or until you can safely get food, shelter, and a job. Homelessness in LGBTQ youth is not a myth. I don’t know what your reasons are for coming out, but think about why you are doing it, and whether it is absolutely necessary.

For example, I came out to my parents as transgender because I was getting top surgery. The need was emotional: I was letting them know of a big step in my life. But by this point I had been living on my own for 6 years and had been financially independent for almost 2. Neverthelees, had I come out to them beforehand, while I might not have received their unconditional love, I knew with absolute certainty that I would have their unconditional financial support. Still, the very educated guess of impending rejection did indeed prevent me from coming out before, and I am very glad I waited.

It is unfortuante that people are unwilling to see past all of your wonderful attributes and would rather withdraw all their support – financial and emotional – rather than change their mental schemas of the world to accept you as you are. But being an unfortunate fact does not make it any less true. Rejection is a real possibility that turns into a real reality for a lot of LGBTQ people, and affects youth in a particularly rough way. Not to sound too pessimistic, but I prefer to err on the side of safety. Especially when it comes to your personal safety – shelter, sustencance, and security.

Inspiration

I’m sorry to end this post on such a low note. A few days ago I found this Coming Out series by the New York Times, which you can browse for inspiration. Here are a few choice stories that stood out at me – some are sad, but others are not.

And if you’re just itching to ask interesting questions, head on over to the Ask page and ask away.

3 responses to “Reader Ramblings: On (Not) Coming Out

  1. this is some pretty good advice. and, as much as it hurts to admit it, there really are situations in which you just shouldn’t come out. for example, i’m not going to come out to my boss or to our customers because, well, i don’t want to get fired.

    i reallyreally hope everything works out for whoever asked the question.

    • Yes, as much as it pains me to say all this, safety first, comfort second. Of course, there is a fine line between being safe and denying yourself a life (like, staying in the closet forever, or not having a partner, etc), but if you have other options available to you, like waiting some time, or moving, then you should definitely make the effort to take them.

  2. Pingback: Coming Out as Trangender, Genderqueer, and/or Non-Binary Masterpost | Marilyn Roxie·

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