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Trans, Genderqueer, Nonbnary? Just Be You

Photo: Courtesy of Denin Lawley

From YouTubers Ash Hardell and Brendan Jordan to celebrities Amandla Stenberg and Jazz Jennings, there are a lot of trans and nonbinary voices out there. This can make it easier for gender diverse youth to come out to themselves and to discover they are not alone. But it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to come out to others.

The coming out process ​​​​​​​

You deserve love and support. You also deserve to be safe. Coming out is an important part of the process of living authentically as you are. It might involve telling people about your correct pronouns. Or it may involve asking family and friends to call you by a name that accurately reflects who you are and to recognize you have a gender identity that differs from the one you were assigned at birth but fits your internal sense of yourself.

When coming out to family and friends, it can help to first find others who understand what you are experiencing and learn from them. If you live near a major city, there may be support groups available. But even if you can’t locate or attend a support group, you can still find others online who’ve already come out to family. Watching Ash Hardell’s videos about transitioning and coming out to others can answer some of your questions.

The importance of planning

Think about who you want to tell. A parent? Another trusted adult? A school guidance counselor? A best friend? You may have to ask some initial questions about people’s attitudes toward LGB and T people to learn who might be the safest person to start with and who else to come out to after that. There are lots of ways to come out. Think about what to say and how to say it. Practice with a friend or ask someone to accompany you when you come out if that feels safer. Are your parents better reading about something or hearing it in person? Think about whether it might help to give your parents a copy of “Some Assembly Required, Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out,” or “The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens.”

It might help to remember that while you have had time to understand your gender identity, for some parents and guardians, it will be a big surprise to learn that their child is transgender or non-binary. They will need time, and some may even need peer or professional support to learn and understand what the terms transgender, nonbinary and genderqueer mean and to come to terms with or support any medical gender affirmation treatments that some people may want or need.

Remember that you are not the first and you are not alone. There are supports and resources out there for gender diverse youth, including Fenway Health’s resource page on transgender health, BAGLY and the Trans Youth Equality Foundation.

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