“Coming out as trans is not all unicorns and rainbows.”
Talking to friends, family, and sexual partners about anything personal can feel like a daunting task. When it comes to disclosing your transgender identity, there is no formula that you can use that will give you the desired outcome. Whether you are coming out to your family members, letting a friend in to a deeper understanding of you, or wanting a partner to know the ways you like to have sex, disclosing this information should be done on your terms, under circumstances where you and the listener(s) feel comfortable.
Here are some tips when talking about your trans identity:
- In all situations, your safety comes first. Everyone reacts differently, and sometimes you could find yourself in an intense or even dangerous situation. If you are nervous or unsure about how someone is going to react, telling a trusted friend where you will be and asking them to check in with you periodically may be in your best interest.
- Feel free to be upfront about the fact that it is your body and therefore it is your business. You are the one who decides who you are going to tell and when.
- Remember that not everyone has the same knowledge about gender identities. It is important to meet them where they are and to be ready to answer any questions they might have.
- Pick a time and location where all parties involved feel safe and comfortable, and where you are as free as possible from other potential distractions.
- It’s okay to “test the waters.” Try mentioning trans people in general to gauge their reaction before talking about your own personal experience.
- Remind friends and family that there is nothing wrong with you, and that there is nothing and no one that can be blamed for you being trans.
- Sometimes your loved ones need to be reminded that just because your outer appearance might change, you are still the same friend/child/partner that they know and care about.
“It really depends on the situation. I go by the army law of 'Don’t ask, don’t tell'. I would be honest if I need to be. It can be violent, so you have to be careful. Do not try to fool people. I try not to put myself into a situation to get hurt. I have been a sex worker and I have been in situations with a guy who didn’t know. I have been shot, stabbed and hit with a baseball bat. People react differently.”
Unfortunately, Louisiana does not have statewide workplace protections for people of transgender experience. The cities of New Orleans and Shreveport do in fact have non-discrimination ordinances that protect transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.
When disclosing your identity at the workplace, it is a good idea to:
- Check your employee handbook to see if there is a section on the company’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy.
- Talk to a Human Resources representative to see what protections and accommodations are in place for you.
- Talk to a trusted manager or coworker; having an ally and support system can be beneficial.
- As with any coming out experience, make sure you are ready to answer questions and ready for every outcome.
In medical and academic settings, just like in professional settings, knowing your rights is an important tool that you can use to keep your peers, educators, and providers accountable. This can help you to know when you are being mistreated and what you can do about it. At schools, colleges, and universities:
- Look for the institution’s anti-bullying policy
- See if there are LGBT+ organizations that you can use for advocacy and support.
- Check for key words in the institution’s mission statement, such as “equality” and “diversity.”
- Speak with a guidance counselor to find out how the institution can and will support you.
The ACLU of Louisiana has a Students Rights Handbook that you can use to learn what rights you have as a student in an academic environment:
When it comes to your health, regardless of where you are in your transition, it is good to find a doctor that you can trust and that you feel comfortable talking with. When finding a doctor:
- Talk to others you know about their experiences being transgender and receiving healthcare services and ask them for referrals.
- Check in with a local LGBTQ+ center for recommendations to trans-friendly providers.
- Know that you can bring a confidant—someone in your life who you trust and are close to—with you for advocacy and support.
- Remember that you do have rights as a patient and learn what they are.
- Be open with the provider about what your goals are, your sexual history, and medical history so that they are better able to treat, advise, and care for you.
Trans safe dating tips
The Center on Halsted has produced a good list of tips on trans dating safety.
I’ve been lucky to grow up in an environment where I can be myself. My dad’s family is more conservative, and it has been a process. I am quieter around them, but I am still myself. I have had talks with my grandmother, and she has started listening to me.