Not everyone is going to understand or be supportive. You can only try to explain and to be open to the questions people will ask. There isn’t a single way to talk to someone about being trans. Each individual will know different things about gender, some of which will be true, some of which will not be. It is important not to become offended. If we are not willing to talk to people about trans issues, people will not become educated. Most people don’t know anything trans people, about the reasons behind transitioning or what happens while transitioning. And some of those questions, they will be highly personal.
It is tempting to think moving to another place where people don’t know you will be easier, where you could begin again as your true gender and not have to explain who you are to people who already know you. But do you want to hide your beginnings your whole life? And not allowing your friends the opportunity to get to know and understand the new you is depriving them of the chance to be your real friends. You must keep some faith in people, though I know that can be hard sometimes. Everyone deserves a chance, and completely abandoning your previous life is drastic because you will need the support of the people in your old life.
So how to go about these conversations, whether you are coming out as genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or trans:
1. Be secure in yourself. Don’t doubt your own thoughts and feelings.
2. Be up front. Tell your friends how you feel, what the thought process has been like for you to decide to transition.
3. Start slow. Talk one on one with the friends who know you best.
4. It’s a scary thing. It’s ok to be nervous.
5. Explain terms you use—such as binding, transitioning, or even gender—that the person you are talking to might never have heard before.
6. Remember that just because your gender is changing perceptively, you yourself and your personality are not. Ask your friends to keep this in mind as well.
7. Don’t get defensive.
8. Be open to questions when people ask them in a non-confrontational manner.
9. You don’t have to answer every question if you feel it is too personal, but be as open as you feel comfortable being.
10. Be definitive in your statements. You are who you are, and you must stand by that no matter what the people around you might say.
Those are my guidelines for a good conversation with friends. Generally, just relax and be confident in how you feel, which is hard to do. I can say it, but it is hard to be at that point. Knowing people support me, though, helps me to try to do all these hard things and stand up for who I am.
What are your experiences? Do you have anything to add to the list, as a person who has experienced this conversation on either side?