Last Updated 17.02.2022
12 min read

A Guide on How to Come Out as Trans to Your Family and Friends

Alan Schin (he/him/his) is the Chief Editor at Taimi. He wears several hats daily as a writer, editor, blogger, and content contributor. He began his university studies as a Psychology student but found his passion in Advanced Communication Studies. Alan loves having the opportunity to write and help our content team shine. According to Alan, his education helps him to understand the dynamics behind dating and socialization better. When he isn’t busy with Taimi, Alan works on his first novel, a sci-fi thriller, and creates works of art in his ceramics studio.

There are many emotions that come to mind when you think about how to come out as trans to your friends and family. Excitement, fear, possibly a sense of relief, and a lot of other mixed thoughts about all the ways this could go.

If you feel like this is the right time to come out to your family and friends, you probably need some support in order to gather your thoughts. Here is some information about coming out as trans that can hopefully help you in this difficult yet exciting time.

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Table of Content

    What Does the Term "Coming Out" Mean?

    Coming out is a term that is being used by many people in the LGBTQ community. It refers to the action of expressing or revealing your gender identity or sexual orientation to other people. This might include your loved ones or other people in your circle to who you are not as close. 

    When someone chooses to come out, they will finally be able to express their gender identity, their experience through keeping this a secret, and possibly their desire to transition. These can be very challenging for any person, especially when they grow up in a society that tends to judge individuality.

    Why Choose to Come Out as Trans?

    If you have decided that this is the right time for you to come out to the people in your life, it means that you are tired of pretending. Living a life where you have to lie and pretend about who you are is hard and can really impact your mental health negatively. 

    You are eager to explain what it means to be trans to your loved ones and finally build your own support system that understands and accepts you. If you feel ready to come out you should remember that there is no right or wrong time to do so. If you feel ready, that is enough reason for you to do it!

    How to Prepare Yourself for What You Wish to Say

    There will be so many thoughts in your head about what to say and how and to whom. The first thing you should decide on is who you wish to come out as transgender to first. Oftentimes, friends or a sibling are a safer option as people closer to our age are more understanding than our older family members. 

    In addition, you can then ask that person for advice on what to change or how to approach anyone else in your circle. Coming out as trans will be easier if you have someone with you who already supports you when you express yourself to others.

    It might be a good idea to create a plan on what you wish to say and how you wish to express everything. Older family members might not know certain things such as the different gender identities, what it is to be non-binary, genderqueer or how to use the right pronouns. 

    By preparing for these things in advance, you will be able to keep everyone in the loop and help them understand you and your needs better. In order to help you out with this, here is a more detailed list of things you might want to mention to your friends and family:

    • Explain that the gender assigned at birth is not always accurate.

    People are used to associating someone's gender with their sex at birth. One's sex is something that is related to biological characteristics for people who are female, male, or intersex and is usually assigned at birth. 

    Geena Rocero – “All of us are put in boxes by our family, by our religion, by our society, our moment in history, even our own bodies. Some people have the courage to break free.”

    A person's gender is something that comes from their identity, how they view themselves that is often different from societal norms. While a woman might have been born as a female, another one might have been born in the wrong body. This can lead to a sense of dysphoria and can put a lot of pressure on the lives of trans individuals.

    You should explain to them that just because a woman wasn't born a female that doesn't mean that she is a man. She is as much of a woman as any other who dresses a certain way, behaves a certain way, expresses and carries herself a certain way. There is a lot more to a person's identity than their sex and their gender expression comes from that.

    • Talk about the different genders and your own identity and orientation

    Whether you identify as a binary gender or identify as genderqueer or non-binary, your family might have a hard time understanding if they are not familiar with different gender identities. The umbrella of being transgender holds many genders and each person's gender identity can vary.

    For example, it might be hard for an older person to understand what being non-binary means. You can use the example of someone famous who is non-binary and explain what pronouns they use and what their identity means.

    You can share a few things about your own gender identity and sexual orientation if you feel more comfortable and explain to them how a trans person fits in this menu. You should remember that it is entirely up to you to decide which resources to use and how deep you want to dive into explaining gender identity to each person you come out to.

    Tip: You can use images or videos to help you ease your way into this conversation. This can help you explain things about gender and gender identity to people without having to use too much mental energy.

    Different identities through the LGBTQ community can allow more trans people to finally detach from the sex they were assigned to at birth and understand which groups they belong to. 

    • Share moments of your life when you knew you you were trans

    Being open about your personal experience as a transgender individual can help others come to terms with what you are trying to share with them. Their responses are also bound to be more processed in their heads if they see how much this means to you.

    Here you can use the help of a friend you trust to explain certain information that is hard for you to share. You can talk about the effect it has on you to realize you are transgender and how gender dysphoria impacts you. Coming out as trans is never easy but being honest about your feelings can allow you to heal faster.

    • Speak openly about your needs on transitioning

    Your experience with your transition as a transgender individual is yours and yours only and you should shape it the way you need it, not how others believe it should go. Their part in this should consist of supporting you through this process and understanding your needs as a transgender individual. 

    Whether you will decide to go through hormone therapy or not, or any other form of transition can make you feel closer to your transgender identity. You can explain to them for example, that since you came out to them as a transgender man, you need to feel closer to the gender you identify as. 

    Hormone therapy or surgery can allow you to you detach yourself from the sex you were given at birth and allow you to feel closer to being the man you wish to be. This is exactly why you could use all the support each person in your life offers you. Let them know that your new birth as a transgender individual starts now and you need support to fully embrace the person you want to become.

    • Discuss the possibility of using a different name

    While this might be new to the people you came out to as trans, you need to express to them the potential need for a name change. A big part of your gender identity is choosing to go by a name that makes you feel more comfortable and matches your pronouns. 

    While you might not want to share this with larger groups of people right away, sharing it with your family can motivate everyone to start calling you the name you want. This is an important first step that along with using the right pronouns can help you feel accepted and understood.

    • Set your boundaries early on 

    Criticism should never be on the menu when it comes to your identity. Some people are going to accept you and others will not. It is not your responsibility to change the course of your path to satisfy their needs. Each individual lives under their own terms and identities and at times setting boundaries are important for relationships with anyone you choose to trust with personal information. 

    You need to explain to the people you trust with this that you are not confused, being transgender is not a phase and you are not looking for their advice during this process. You need them to listen, accept that you are transgender, and offer their support. 

    Someone who truly loves you will embrace your transgender identity and assist you in ways that make you feel safe. Oftentimes parents and other people you care for will try to step on the boundaries you have set. Your gender and identity are not negotiable and you need to step up for yourself when necessary, even if it costs you to lose a person. 

    How to Tell People in Your Close Circle 

    Deciding on the right timing can be hard, even if you have everything you wish to say planned. You might still have your doubts about how a person will deal with you coming out as transgender. There is a way to go about this and get a general idea of how they react to LGBTQ topics.

    The easiest way is to bring topics about gender or anything relating to the LGBTQ community into your casual conversation when the timing is right and see how they react. You will get a much better idea about whether they will be respectful to you and your gender and identity. This way you won't express the news about yourself or your transgender identity to someone who will view your coming out as a negative thing.

    Facing Transphobia and Putting Your Safety First

    Transphobia is sadly very real in our day and time and to a great extent, it stems from misunderstanding and hate. People at times fear what they don't understand and in many cases, hate can hide secrets about their own closeted sexuality or identity.

    If for any reason you feel like coming out to someone could make you vulnerable to physical or emotional abuse, staying closeted might be safer. It is not your job to educate everyone and try to change their mind. You need to protect yourself first and whether the other person is your parents, a group of friends, or a coworker, distancing yourself from them might be a good option. 

    Trans people are oftentimes the target of violence or discrimination. In 2021 alone, there were at least 51 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means in the US. If you feel unsafe in any situation make sure to let people who care about you know and contact the local authorities if you feel that you are in danger.

    Give Them Some Time to Process the Situation

    Last but not least, you need to keep in mind that the people you opened up to might need some time to come to terms with your identity. This doesn't necessarily mean that they will reject what you told them. It just means that in order to be a part of your life and care for you as you need it, they will also need time to adjust. 

    For example, if you have expressed to them the change in your pronouns or name, it might take some time for these individuals to process it and get used to using them correctly. You will need to be a little patient with them as well at this point, especially if they are older.

    The best thing you can do is ask them if they need help with researching or understanding information that came with your news. You could even make a small newsletter email chain for some people in your circle and send them articles or facts about being trans. This will make it an area they will feel comfortable discussing with you.

    Also, another thing you might want to consider is to avoid posting about it on social media for some time. Coming out to your friends and family might have made you feel more comfortable with yourself but there are still so many ill-willed people online. 

    Give yourself some time to really feel ready to come out to the world, if you feel like you need it. This can also help you gather the right crowd and turn your experience into something positive for other members of your community.

    Asking for Support is not Something to Fear 

    Living a life where you have to hide your true self in fear of rejection is very difficult, especially when it is a fact you cannot affect. If you take a look online, you are bound to find a support group that other trans people look to for help and support during this difficult time. The LGBTQ community is always there to help the people that need it. 

    Apart from support groups, don't be afraid to ask for the support of the people closest to you. In most cases, people who have been around you for a long time know that you are struggling with something. You can express your feelings to them and see how they react to this situation. This will bring you one step closer to feeling safe and accepted.

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