Naturally enough, there are many ways to “come out” to family and friends. I have known many transgender women who have decided to come out gradually. In other words, they decide to tell a few people at a time before they decide to tell more.
Others rely on the “shock and awe” method which means just showing up as your authentic self and let the fall out happen. I am far from an expert because I just waited for most of all the people around me to die, so I didn’t have many people to tell. For obvious reasons, I don’t recommend that method.
Others (such as Connie) were fortunate to have another person to pave the way for them:”I have to say that I don’t know that I could have made my Thanksgiving “debut” had it not been for my wife’s help. She paved the way for me by talking to my daughters well ahead of time, giving them the opportunity to prepare their kids and husbands. I never would have just shown up with a big surprise for everyone, and I would caution anyone who might consider coming out in that way, as well.
There’s not a good way to come out – to family, or any other group of people. I would say, though, that there is one bad way to come out. Doing so with the attitude that it’s “all about me” is bound to lead to disappointment. From the beginning, I have approached my transition as a responsibility. Every individual relationship from the past is going to change, and it is up to me to do my best to recognize and accept the feelings of each person. How I react to them is what will determine our “new” relationship. Above all, one needs to keep in mind that what has taken maybe years – even decades – for self-acceptance cannot possibly be absorbed instantaneously by another. Even if I’ve decided that “what you see is what you get,” what I get back will always depend on the work I put into each relationship.
The way I’ve gone about things would probably not make for a great Hallmark production. Nothing can be tightly wrapped up in a two-hour episode; more like The Never Ending Story. “
A reminder, I tried a process similar to Connie’s when it came to coming out to him and his extended family and he turned me down. We haven’t spoken since. The whole process was and is nothing I am proud of.
It turns out, the coming out process is as complex as being transgender itself.