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Coming Out as Trans in High School?

Question:

After a long time of thinking it through, I’ve come to a conclusion that I am indeed trans. I still have dysphoria and it freaks me out, but I’m ready to come out to everyone. I’ve come out to a small group of friends, and to all members of my family living in my house.

My small group of friends are very very supportive and I don’t know where I’d be without them. They’ve helped me along to the best of their abilities and I am ever grateful. The problem is, I want to come out to everyone I know. And my family makes that hard.

My family doesn’t back me at all. My mom ignores the things that I’ve said to her and I don’t have the confidence to correct her when she calls me by my birth name or refers to me as my birth pronouns. She’s my mom and I’d feel bad confronting her. My mother has ignored everything and tries to pass it off as a phase, she’s telling me to wait until high school is over to come out, because that will be easier for me.

She says that if I come out now with two years of high school left, I’ll be bullied senselessly, only bringing myself pain. She’s also accused me of being masochistic. She very recently called me a contradiction and a “girl-boy,” and I don’t think she realized how hurtful that was.

It seems as if my mom is making me wait out the next two years because she hopes it’s just a phase, or that I’ll give up and be the perfect daughter she always wanted when I just want to be her and my fathers son, as well as my sisters brother.

My sister likes to tell me, “You were born with a vagina, you will always be a girl.” And that’s no fun. She tells me she’ll never call me by my preferred name, Finnley, and she will never refer to me by male pronouns. She has told me that she will “accept me” but she won’t accept me as her brother. I’ll always be a girl to her.

I want to help educate her and to be patient with her, but she makes it hard for me to do so. I am tired of her incessant bullying and rude behavior. It seems like she and my mom make me the center of some cruel joke and then call me a hypocrite for not thinking their “harmless” teasing isn’t funny. “I know you’re sensitive, but that’s no excuse. You tease us all the time.”

I feel like I’m not allowed to be sad or have opinions or do anything with my body. My mom and sister don’t think anything is wrong, when I’m waging out a war within my brain. And even though my dad would like to, he won’t help. I just want people to see me as I see me. I want to come out now, with two years of high school left, but maybe it’s a bad idea. I just wanted a second opinion.

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Finnely:

Thank you for reaching out to us here at The Trevor Project – I am so glad you felt comfortable doing so. It sounds like you are going through so much and I am so sorry that anyone has been unsupportive of you in any way. Figuring out who you are and what you need is huge – I am so glad to hear you have a very supportive close group of friends. One caring, understanding, empathetic friend can make all the difference in the world. No matter what, no one deserves to be mean to you, to disrespect you, to make fun of you, to bully you, or to be anything other than loving, caring, and supportive towards you. You are perfect exactly who you are. You have every right to feel how you do in each moment – whether its sad, or frustrated, happy, or excited – no one can change this, and being honest with yourself about how you’re feeling at all times is sometimes really hard to do. Your are right though, you deserve to be seen exactly how you want to be seen, and that’s beautiful.

No one can tell you when the “right” time is for you to come out, because honestly, there isn’t a right or wrong time. Again I’m glad you have a close supportive group of friends but I think what you need to do is think more about what it’s like to be out to your family, in school, at your job (or future job), and what it’s like to not be out to these same groups of people. What it means to you emotionally and how much of a toll it takes by not being out, and also by coming out – what that would be like. If you go to a very conservative school with no LGBTQ friendly groups (such as a GSA – Gay Straight Alliance) it might make your life a lot harder to come out. That said, coming out may be so important to you, that no matter what you face as a result of this, it’s better than hiding. Again, there is no right answer to this question - it’s really something you have to determine on your own.

When it comes to your family and friends, there is nothing you can do to change their minds or opinions – I wish there was, but in the end they have to be open to loving you for exactly who you are, and who you aren’t. They need to realize that you are the same beautiful person they have always known, you have just more fully understood who you are, and there is so much beauty and strength in that. Have you tried giving them information on what it’s like to be trans or to have a trans sibling/child? PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has some great resources accessible on their website under “Get Support” then “For Friends and Family,” that you may find helpful.

When really sitting them down and talking to them about what you are going through, it’s important to think through what their reactions may be. Will they be surprised? Will they think you’re joking? Will they hope its a phase and blow you off? Is there any possibility they will be completely unsupportive and kick you out? Although it’s hard to think about what their reactions might be, it’s always better to have thought about all the possibilites, and have clear responses for each of these different scenerios. The more clear you can be about who you are (that this is not a phase) about what name/gender pronouns you prefer and why, and what really hurts your feelings, the harder it is for them to ignore you. Although it’s annoying to have to do this, it’s almost like sitting them down and teaching them about what you’re going through, how much of a struggle it is, and how their support would make this so much easier for you. It’s also very important to think about whether or not they’ll allow you to stay in your house, and/or if this could have any financial implications. Some people weight the positives and negatives and realize it’s better for them to wait until they’re in college, or out of the house, so they’re financially independant and have their own place to live, where they are comfortable before coming out. Other’s choose to come out in high school because that feels right to them. Again, there is no right or wrong answer, but the more you can think about what the potential situations are from coming out and waiting, the more prepared you’ll be to take your next steps.

Lastly, building your support network is huge! The more people you can talk to about what you are going through, what your friends, parents, or other individuals reactions may be, or are, the more you can process through this. If you haven’t joined TrevorSpace its a great social networking tool for youth and allies of the LGBTQ community. You’ll be able to connect with others who are in similar situations to you and/or who have been in these same situations. Just remember, no one can force you to do anything you dont want to do. You can come out whenever you like – whether it’s today, tomorrow, a week from now, or two years from now. The important thing is that you’re doing it on your terms, when you’re comfortable. I see so much strength in where you’ve been, so much determination in how far you’ve come, and I wish nothing but the best for you. Remember if you ever need someone to talk to The Trevor Project is here for you any time day or night at 1-800-4-U-TREVOR, and also via TrevorChat and TrevorText on our main website. You are perfect the way you are – you are the only person who can be you, so do it with pride!

Thanks,

The Trevor Project