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Is it normal to be so afraid?


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I haven't officially come out to anyone, except a couple people privately online, and very recently you all here. I have tried in the past to come out to my grandmother, and I distinctly remember this one point last year. I thought I had built up the courage, and I just sat there next to her for, probably half an hour give or take, but just ended up saying "never mind" and leaving the room. I have even tried hinting to her before and since, or ways to gauge her reaction, but I can never get the courage to actually.. go through with it. She is pretty much the only person I would come out too, and I am effectively estranged from the entirety of the rest of my family already (and I want to keep it that way). I mean, unless I move back to my home state, I know the public around here (the midwest) also probably wouldn't approve, but they are of lesser concern to me. 


I just feel like not being able to do anything about this is sort of eating away at me. It's hard to describe. Maybe she even knows, but refuses to say anything. Ican be "eccentric". I am very different from the perceived "norm". I feel like I would be seen differently, and that scares me to no end. 

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Pretty much all of us have experienced this to some degree or other.  I was like that before I came out to my wife.  It took me months to work up the courage.  Many times in that period, I had the words in my head, I had taken a breath to start speaking them, but they just wouldn't come out.


Pretty much the only way to do it is to just do it.  It will feel like you are jumping out of an airplane, and you just have to hope that your parachute opens. 


It is scary, but it is the only way forward.  Good luck.  When you are able to do it, I hope it goes well for you.

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  • Admin

You may be worse off than a few of us have been, but than not as bad off as most of the others either.  It is a very deep and personal story and varies from person to person so there is no one way to do.  Here in the Forums we have a lot of stories from other people about how they did it, and one of those stories just may give you an idea of how you want to do it.  I did it with books to some of my victims, but there are some movies today that if not exactly what is on your mind, may be close enough to at least give you a direction to go in.  Letters work, and maybe selfie video could do the job nicely.  Lots of things, very few bad, mostly OK, and one or two that in hindsight were terrific but not obvious at first.  You are doing fine.  

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

 Anais Nin


For many of us, the pain of keeping our secret becomes so overwhelming that we're driven to take action we would never consider otherwise. For example, who in his or her right mind would reveal something like this that is likely to destroy a happy marriage? 


Sadly, in many cases it does come down to whether or not you opt to maintain your own sanity. We can do only so much damage control, and it really is up to others as to how they respond. 

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I like what Colleen said about this, probably because I feel it fits my own situation.  At the moment the only people I am out to are the people directly helping me transition, such as my electrologist and the doctor who is managing my hormone therapy.  One thing I heard a while ago really intrigues me, I was told that even if you never come out somehow many of your family and acquaintances already know.  Maybe they don't know exactly that you are trans, but they know you aren't exactly "straight" or "normal".  (I used quotes to signify that the meaning of those words isn't all that clarifying anymore)


But as the others are saying, each person's journey will be unique in some way and your path forward will eventually manifest itself to you.  It's good you are talking about it here, there are many people who will have useful insights to help guide you.

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We all have a different level of readiness. I thought long and hard for about five months before I started to let the world know about me. During that time I worked on those components of me that I wanted to get ready. I improved my diet, exercise, and rest patterns. I called around for three months before I could find a counselor. I planned a new wardrobe. I did a lot of reading and looked at how others started to let others know about their transition. One text that helped me form the words was a text by Jenny Boylan. She was a professor at Colby College. Her text She's Not There, had some great letters that she used to break the news to her fellow faculty members. I reviewed her style and modeled what I put in my letters. I held off on sending anything to anybody until I had spoke to two different counselors. I knew by the age of 5, but I wanted to make sure. My life was going to change.


For my clinical work, I sent confidential letters to my immediate supervisor and the medical director of the group. Their responses were highly supportive. I then sent letters to a number of close associates. I had thought about the letter approach to some relatives, but instead, I went there in person. Tearful sessions, and in the end, they rejected me. I knew that going in. I no longer consider them my family. It was not as hard as it sounds. I made myself very vulnerable and the rejection was painful. At the end of the day, I realized that no matter what they thought or wanted, had no impact on meeting. I was a trans woman and that was that. 


It will not always be rosy. There have been times when I have felt a little rocky, or had some self-defeats. After a little time and hanging out with ultra-supportive friends, you rebound. Do not feel bad if you worry about coming out. It is hard. For the most part, many people find that their thoughts of impending doom from coming out, are frequently unfounded. It is normal to have some worries and fears. You are in the right place to get many perspectives and bounce things off of those of us who came before you.


Good luck and a big hug!

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Yeah, I think the fear is normal.  And sometimes the fear is so strong that it totally covers up your own ability to know yourself.  At least, that's how it was for me.  And even after you're out, the fear can still remain to some degree. 

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Thank you all for the kind words and feedback! It has put a smile on my face. I think I will have to keep building up the courage, but it's very nice to read how others who have gone through a similar situation felt. The comment about jumping out of an airplane and hoping your parachute opens has really suck with me.

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If you truly know, you know. Whether you open up or not is a hard thing. For the most part, if you have solid relationships, they should continue. Would not telling anybody change your decision? Just know that there is great support available. Things are not as dire as we think at times. Good luck with whatever you decide. There are no universal solutions. I wish you the best of luck with your decisions.

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8 hours ago, Katie23 said:



If you truly know, you know. Whether you open up or not is a hard thing. For the most part, if you have solid relationships, they should continue. Would not telling anybody change your decision? Just know that there is great support available. Things are not as dire as we think at times. Good luck with whatever you decide. There are no universal solutions. I wish you the best of luck with your decisions.

I've known for a long time. I don't think I ever really questioned it, maybe my sexuality I have questioned, but not this. Some days I feel like I would be accepted, but other days I don't.. or I don't know. I only care about coming out to one person, maybe I am just overthinking it. I don't have any real relationships with anybody else, so aside from that it would be kind of afresh start.

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The fear was crushing for me.  I don't perceive myself as very social and coming out seemed like insanity.  But after starting HRT and liking the effects, I committed myself and didn't want to be in the closet anymore.  Bringing it up in conversation was impossibly hard for me, so I just wrote emails to everyone.  I came out to most everyone I know including work within one week.  Then I was completely out and using my new name.  I didn't have any strong negative response.  I'm single, live in Portland, have a tech career, have very little family still alive.  My situation was very easy, but the fear was still intense.


That was 3 months ago and the dust has settled.  I'm working on getting a new birth certificate now.  No going back and no regrets.  I didn't envision how nice it would be, so that fear was really unfounded.  I feel so much more comfortable introducing myself as Lydia than I did with my dead name.  People instantly understand that I am transgender and I'm at peace with that.  It's actually fun.  I enjoy going out in public more that I ever have.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lydia, thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds to me like jumped off the cliff and found the water to be just fine. We, who continue to struggle, need to hear stories like yours. How happy we would all be in a world where our gender expression was met with shrugs as much as support.

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    • VickySGV
      Many Trans activists that I know consider that behavior to be a form of Violence against us.  Accidents do happen and I evaluate them as they come.  Hanging up the phone, if that is how you talk to them would work for a bit.  Sending them an actual U.S.P.S. letter setting YOUR BOUNDARIES would be highly appropriate, but do get ready for some blow back on it.  Your Gender Therapist can be a big help in strategies to deal with this too.
    • MayBea
      So I've come out to my family for about a a year and a half. And I've been on hrt for over a year. And some of my family still struggles with misgendering me and deadnaming me? My sister seems to be trying but she constantly makes mistakes even during my last visit a few weeks ago(and has misgendered me in public without even thinking about it several times). My cousin did fine for a while, until he started randomly deadnaming me and misgendering me the last few months(all on the phone to be clear). Luckily my friends who known me before transition treat me perfectly. I guess my question is, how do I handle this? Being misgendered and deadnamed is painful for me but I try to remember how long they knew me before my transition and try to understand it might be difficult for them to adjust. I do correct them and they seem to realize they messed up and apologize. But it keeps happening. And I'm not sure how to talk to them about it(if I even should). Am I being unreasonable in being hurt by them?
    • Mmindy
      Good questions Mark, and thank you for being a caring enough person to think about and prepare to meet your cousin. I know she will be very proud of you, when you handle the meeting with love and respect.   Mindy🐛🏳️‍⚧️🦋
    • Carolyn Marie
      Mark, you did a good thing in joining this site; it shows you to be an ally and a thoughtful, caring person.   I can't think of a single thing that @Vidanjalididn't cover expertly.  I could not have said it better.  If you think of other questions, or wish to ask anything of anyone off line, once you have five posts you can PM anyone, but you don't have to wait to talk privately to any staff member here.  Good luck to you and your cousin.   Carolyn Marie
    • heatherd
      He will be in for a long time based on his record.Judge is looking at that too.I credit the prosecutor not giving up on me including the police.
    • Vidanjali
      @MarkCT that's kind of you to reach out to this community to ask such questions. Just based on your willingness to learn and be supportive, I am sure you will succeed.    My understanding is that your cousin transitioned male to female. In that case, she's always been "she". Because she was socialized as male, he/him pronouns had been used in the past. But now that she's discovered she's a woman, she should always be referred to as she (unless she tells you otherwise - some individuals use various pronouns for various reasons). If referring to her before transition, still use she/her, but if the context is important to what you're saying, you can specify "before she transitioned" - don't say "when she was he" or "before she became a woman" or "before she turned trans" or anything like that. Think of her as always having been female, but having worn a male mask for several years. Now, she's removed the mask and is her genuine self.    If there's any doubt, just ask her what are her pronouns. She will probably be more appreciative of you asking rather than assuming.   If you slip and say the wrong thing, just apologize and correct yourself, then move on - don't linger on the mistake potentially making it more awkward and putting her in the position of consoling you. If you hear someone else use the wrong pronoun, be a good ally and correct them matter-of-factly. It sometimes takes practice to adapt to a person's new pronouns. There's a learning curve and it requires patience and compassion.    As for her wife, treat that like anyone's ex-partner situation. If it's a given that they're still friends, no harm in mentioning her. If there's obvious tension, don't mention it unless she brings it up. But don't assume to refer to her as her ex's former "husband" as she may or may not be comfortable with that male-gendered title. It's safer to use gender neutral terms like partner or spouse until you know for sure how a person prefers to refer to themself.    Likewise with personal stuff, just use etiquette you'd use with any other person. But, particularly with a trans individual, the details of her transition are her business only. For example, it's not appropriate to ask someone what meds they take, or what surgeries they've had or not had, etc. Don't treat her as exotic. Just chat with her like you would with anyone else. If she wants to share personal stuff, it's her choice.    In big family gatherings, be a good ally and keep an eye on her if you're worried. If you notice she's uncomfortable in a conversation, interject and change the subject or use an excuse to take her away from it. You'll see it's more about common sense.    Again, good on you for caring and asking. I hope you have a beautiful time with your family. 
    • Mmindy
      G'Day @Jamey-Heather I hope all is well with you and yours. I love that this forum has a global reach.   @WillowI've spent time in all of the lower 48 states thanks to Fire Departments, State Police, and Emergency Management. aka Homeland Security. Oh and I can't leave out our Armed Forces, they had us in for Base Management and Hazardous Materials Response to Bulk Deliveries. We always managed to see some local sites while traveling around teaching. Now I'm taking my wife to the most interesting locations. We hope to add Alaska, and Hawaii, completing all 50 states for me. I've also been to several locations in Mexico, and Canada when I was a Safety Manager for a Chemical Tank Truck Company. We're also looking into the British Isles, Dunkirk, and Normandy in France.   Well today's yard 👩‍🌾 work was enough exercise for a couple of days. They're calling for rain and high winds tonight. Saturday we return to normal February Winter Weather.    Hugs,   Mindy🐛🏳️‍⚧️🦋
    • awkward-yet-sweet
      Glad that there's been some progress. Hopefully things will continue to improve over time.
    • Vidanjali
      Great to hear that @Russ Fenrisson . Any progress is a relief and helps to strengthen one's faith that things can be even better. 
    • Willow
      Hi @Jamey-Heather.  Nice to see you.   @Mmindy  that sounds like an interesting trip.  I’ve never been to either state. Actually I’m down to about 10 I haven’t been to yet.  And I don’t mean stopped in an airport but spent at least an hour.  I’ve also been to the majority of the US territories.  Just not American Samoa although I spent several hours in Samoa and in Okinawa and I don’t know that I’ve stepped foot in Guam.  I think we will try to close out Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas, then Minnesota and Wisconsin this summer.  That leaves me with Alaska.  Places in Canada I’d like to go are Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.    Willow
    • Russ Fenrisson
      Just wanted to address a slight change in the situation.   Things are about the same but I was able to come up with a nickname that is pleasing to both me and those around me. The new nickname has been used on and off, but at least I can see an effort to try to make me feel accomodated.   I also wrote down my thoughts in a letter and after getting my feelings out, I felt a lot better. I probably won't need to use it now but if there is a time I feel not understood again, I always have it to use to get my thoughts out in a clearer manner.   I want to thank everyone again for responding and providing me with advice. I really appreciate it.
    • Russ Fenrisson
      I've also wondered about the same thing, especially since a lot of media I see, if they include a trans character at all, is usually transfeminine. I think it really boils down to what @Carolyn Mariesaid: how said individuals are perceived in society and the acceptibility of it. It's a shame transwomen and transfeminine people are made to feel bad for who they are or to be afraid of how they identify or choose to present themselves. This might be why you see more stories concerning them. To spread awareness and to show transwomen are not scary and are people just like everybody else.   In regards to transmen and transmasculine people, I've done much reading and thinking, and have come to the conclusion that perhaps such individuals are not explored or discussed is because of a private, safety factor. I've read more and more individuals have been coming out as FtM compared to recent years, such as in the 90s or early 2000's, and they may not be as transparent or as seen as MtF individuals just because of the fact they could face ridicule or repercussion for coming out or exploring their identity. It appears the expression of women is much more flexible nowadays than it was before, but that doesn't mean it is all inclusive. It probably just depends on where you are and the kind of atmosphere that is present.   What I always think is, whether I know it or not, I've at least run into someone like myself without knowing it. It provides a sense of mystery but it's at least a little bit comforting in these strange times.
    • MarkCT
      Hi All   This is my first, and in many was I hope my last, post on this forum but here goes and apologies in advance if it is a bit long winded but I think you’d need to know the full picture if you are going to give me any tips, which I do hope you will.    Back in 1963 my mum’s family (her mum, dad and numerous much younger siblings) emigrated to Sydney as “£10 Pommes”. I was two years old at the time and we were due to join them the following year but for various reasons we didn’t go. My dad had no family apart from his parents, who died many years ago. So, it has always been important to me, my wife and our (now grown up) children to visit the family regularly.     So now we get to the main point. I’ve always been saddened that, whilst everyone of my Aussie family have been so excited to see us when we visit there has always been one exception; a first cousin who was really nice but always seemed very standoffish and distant. You can imagine my surprise when she announced that she had transitioned! I’m not great at social media but my wife contacted her and they converse on and off, not a lot but as much as before she transitioned.    But now with Covid out of the way 🤞we are planning our next trip so (as my cousin is not on the main family WhatsApp group) I wrote to her. I said we (my wife and I) were going to be in Sydney and Brisbane, where most of the family live, but that Ballarat really was going to be just too much of a stretch- especially as she is the only one who lives there. I was amazed and so happy when she immediately wrote back and said she’d make sure she came to see us (if you look at the map and at the cost of flights you’ll realise that is no small commitment).    Now this may seem obvious to you but it is all totally new territory to me and my wife so we are worried about inadvertently saying something that might be hurtful.  so any tips would be most welcome. I have some particular questions:   In chatting do we always use feminine pronouns or do we use masculine when talking about the time before transition (ie our previous visits etc)?   Do we talk about his/her(? )wife, who has now gone her own way, although I suspect they are still friends?    Do we steer well clear of discussing anything at all personal I’m thinking of both emotional and practical issues)? Or perhaps my wife could whereas I shouldn’t?   What do we do about our normal big family gatherings? We’d love her to be there but don’t obviously want to put any undue pressure. We do see on Facebook that some of the family are very kind and accepting but in the cases of a good many others we just don’t know.  Thats just a few of the questions we have but any other comments or tips would be most welcome before we get on the plane from Heathrow at the end of the month.    Thanks 😊    Mark    
    • MiraF
      I think if anyone will take over the US as führer, it will be DeSantis. Trump is already being removed from his position as head of the republicans, with people like fox news and Breitbart saying DeSantis is the future of the party. Considering Trump's incompetence and Ron's actions so far, he may actually be worse.   Apart from that, I agree with you 100%.
    • Vidanjali
      The persecution of Black Americans is not analogous to the persecution of trans people, but there are intersecting features such as disproportionate levels of violence against and systemic oppression. That is, in particular, violence against both groups is not exclusively individually motivated (de facto), but is abetted by systemic oppression (de jure).  So, to gain some context for thinking about this question, I read two articles, one that argues that the 1951 charge of genocide against Black Americans is compelling:   https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/12/26/black-activists-charge-genocide-united-states-systemic-racism-526045   and another which argues it is not:   https://opiniojuris.org/2021/12/30/is-structural-genocide-legally-genocide-a-response-to-hinton/   This second article discusses another article on settler colonialism (linked in both articles) whose author states that settler colonialism is eliminatory, but not necessarily genocidal. The 2nd article's author further suggests that therefore systematic "crushing of spirit" may be better defined as cultural genocide, which was deliberately excluded from the genocide convention, however.   From what I understand, proof of intent is pivotal in charging genocide. That was the main argument against validifying the charge of genocide against Black Americans.    Anti-trans politicians and policy makers tend to (deliberately) mask their intent by claiming campaigns to save the children.    After reading the 2nd article, I began to read about crime against humanity versus genocide.    UN definition of crimes against humanity (CAH): https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/crimes-against-humanity.shtml   Note the UN definition of CAH refers to gender. Remarkably, the UN definition of gender acknowledges gender as a social construct.    Also note, regarding intent, that "[an] important distinction is that in the case of crimes against humanity, it is not necessary to prove that there is an overall specific intent. It suffices for there to be a simple intent to commit any of the acts listed, with the exception of the act of persecution, which requires additional discriminatory intent. The perpetrator must also act with knowledge of the attack against the civilian population and that his/her action is part of that attack." Do I believe the trans population is under attack? Yes, without a doubt. Do I believe it's genocide? I view this as an academic question, albeit an important one. I don't know the answer. I do think that it's possible that someone/some people in power will succumb to hubris and unequivocally declare intent to eliminate the trans population. I don't hope for that, but tbh, at least if such intent is made clear, then there is a clearer path to bringing a charge of genocide or CAH. However, I think that using the trans population as a scapegoat to galvanize ones voting constituency is ultimately of greater interest to those individuals than actually destroying us. Nonetheless, we suffer the collateral damage.       
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