Last night I dreamt that a friend texted me saying that he knew someone that was trans and wanted to ask me “when should they come out?“. This was just a dream, but as today was International Transgender Day of Visibility 2018, it kinda made sense to share my thoughts with this dreamy character.
Coming out as trans or as any other thing that may have been in the closet is a very personal event. The decision is intrinsically intimate and unique.
The Social Pressure
I’ve heard of people that feel pressure from others, mostly other trans people, to come out. With comments like “you’re ready” or “you look fantastic” pressure builds to come out. Usually those 3rd parties making those comments don’t know what we may be going through or how “ready” we feel, or how “good” we feel we look.
On the other extreme there’s the pressure NOT to come out. Often these kinds of comments come from cisgender people that may be close to the person or are family members. This is one I got: “don’t tell anyone, they don’t need to know”. Some may not even be comments, just expressions like someone rolling their eyes when telling them about a plan to open up at work. All these interactions build doubts and pressure to stay in the closet.
Sometimes we ourselves set arbitrary deadlines. For example, setting a personal goal to come out on March 31st for International Transgender Day of Visibility, or some other specific day, for example, for Pride. It’s really up to the individual to make a commitment to themselves and to stick to it or not. At any rate, by setting a deadline it does create pressure on oneself.
The Best Moment: Your Moment
The fact is that each one of us go at our own rate. We have our own comfort thresholds and we know when it’s right.
When someone sets their own deadline it’s their prerogative and as long as they feel it’s the right moment for them, I’m good with that decision. On the other hand, if setting that arbitrary deadline creates undue pressure or personal tension, to me that doesn’t seem to make sense. Maybe the person setting the arbitrary date or deadline should reconsider. After all, it’s arbitrary.
The best moment is our moment. The best moment is when we feel it’s right for ourselves regardless of what other people may say, suggest or even what we feel other people think. It is our decision to make and as such we are in control. Not only that, but it’s also our life and no one else’s. If for any reason the moment doesn’t feel right, we can wait.
Any external pressure we may feel is in fact is our own pressure. Yes, we may feel that someone wants us to do or not to do something, but it is US who feel that. It is us who choose to give value to that feeling or external pressure. At the end of the day what we feel is our perception of that external pressure. If that is the case and we are aware of that perception, then we can control the “external pressure”. In fact it’s not external; it’s what we make it to be.
What I’m saying is that we can control it.
I’m not saying that the external pressure is not real. What I’m saying is that we can control it. And that’s what I mean when I say that the best moment is our own moment. It’s when we have or feel control over our own perception; of our own pressure.
My own moment to open up was very clear to me. When I made the decision of seeking medical advice, I really wanted to do so. I knew that once I started there would be physical changes and I would also change my presentation. I didn’t have a set timeline or a precise expectation but I wanted to get going. I was so excited about the idea that I really wanted to share such excitement with others. The combination of the excitement and my idea of “preparing” people for my upcoming changes made it really easy to open up.
My rationale of opening up and sharing my excitement with others, at the beginning I thought, was to prepare them for what was to come. Little did I know then, but I know now, that the one being prepared was me. Yeah, sure, letting people know what was going to happen before it happened was my courtesy move to them, but it helped me more than anyone else. It helped me see my own excitement and it helped me explain to myself what I was doing.
When I decided to open up I was very keen on sharing my excitement about my decision and what I was embarking into. That was my clear signal it was my moment to open up. Now after going through the process of opening up and sharing, I am sure that my positive attitude helped others feel happy for me. I can unequivocally say that whatever attitude I had when I opened up, would be the attitude I would receive back from the person I was sharing. In the vast majority of people I opened up I felt they were happy for me, because they could see I was excited for myself. In a few cases when I stumbled, for example, I felt the other person doubting about my decision. In effect, apart from what I told people, how I told them, made a great impact on how I perceived their support.