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Is it normal to be so afraid?


Josnn

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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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Josnn,

 

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:

Josnn,

 

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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    • Carolyn Marie
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      @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. 
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    • MarkCT
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    • Vidanjali
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