So, I think I might be transgender/gender non-conforming/nonbinary, etc….
Q: I am questioning my gender identity, but….I…I don’t know..
A: YOU ARE VALID. This is first and foremost the most important thing remember. YOU. ARE. VALID.
Speaking from experience here, know that it is okay to not know. It is okay to go a long time without knowing. It is okay to never really know. Gender is fluid. Gender is weird. Gender roles are ridiculous. When it boils down to it do we not essentially have these genders based upon some archaic alleged roles and rules? What actually defines gender, when it truly comes down to it? Gender is a social construct, and it is no wonder it is confusing. It is okay for it to be confusing. It is okay for it to be scary. You can play with words and labels, pronouns and names, and see how they all make you feel. I know that it is hard not to feel pressured, but please do not rush yourself. I am learning this myself.
Q: But I’m scared; what if things change?
A: As I said, gender is fluid. People identify as gender fluid as one means of expressing feeling like a boy and girl, both, or some combination. Some describe having “boy days” and “girl days.” Some describe feeling differently within the same day. This may be vastly different than what you are actually asking, but the point of bringing this up is to drive home the point that gender is fluid. It may or may not change, and either way is okay. You. Are. Valid.
Many people make coming out to sound like a big, important, and essential thing. But that is not true for everyone. It can be easy for some people and it can be hard for some people. For those who come out, can be a continuous process. It is also important to understand that it is not something that everybody does.
“It is ok if you are not ready to come out. Your safety is first. It is ok to pick and choose when, where, and to whom you come out. You and your identity/identities are valid. You are not any less gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderfluid, asexual, demisexual, grey-asexual, aromantic, or whatever your identity/identities if you are not out. Take care of yourself. You are important. You matter. You and your identity/identities are valid.”
Q: I am confident in my gender identity but I am anxious about coming out. What do I do about family/friends/etc?
A: If you simply don’t know how they would react, attempt to discuss transgender and gender non-conforming people from the media, issues, etc, and see how they react. This may allow you to gauge the cissexism you are unsure of the existence of.
If you feel ready and safe, it is good to be prepared for questions; though they may or may not come, you don’t want to be made to feel unsafe by being caught off guard. If questions are asked or comments are made that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, gauge your comfort in addressing the person.
Q: I know that my family is cissexist, and I am scared to come out. What do I do?
A: Your happiness is number one, but tied, with this, as number one, is your safety. Please be knowledgable of what resources are available to you. This is a difficult question that cannot truly be advised in either direction. Only you know your family and yourself. Know that I am here for you to reach out to personally for further communication.
Q: How do I go about coming out at school?
A: If you feel comfortable, asking teachers/staff/faculty to meet with you may be ideal. Otherwise, you can simply send emails that say state how you appear in the system, but that you use x pronoun and y name. This may be the most simple way for many. As with any coming out, though it should not be your duty to educate, understand that questions may come, and it is ideal, not just for the other party, but also for you, if you are able to be open. However, do not answer any questions that you are uncomfortable with, and know that inappropriate questions can be reported to higher ranking people.
Know Your Rights
Transitioning, Presenting, and “Passing”
Q: I want to bind/wear a binder. Is there anything that I should know?
A: Firstly, it is ESSENTIAL, to say that if you are going to bind, that you use an actual binder. Other strategies that people have used for binding are seriously dangerous. Binders can be expensive, and if you cannot invest, look into places where people may be donating old binders! https://www.transactiveonline.org/inabind/get.php
When you wear a binder, you should not exceed 8 hours wearing it.
They can make breathing a bit more challenging, so pay attention to your breathing and how it feels. If it feels like it is becoming too much, and difficult to breathe, TAKE THE BINDER OFF. Physical safety is important.
Be aware of heat, and as you would in any heat situation, remain hydrated.
Heavy lifting should be avoided, or at least managed carefully, as along with exceeding 8 hours wearing a binder, risks can be posed to your back.
Know that movement may be restricted when wearing a binder, and remember to stretch regularly and adjust the binder as needed.
Q: I am not/do not identify as transgender/female to male, but I still want to wear a binder. I am concerned about this being “okay”/this feels “weird,” or “disrespectful,” etc.
A: Your body is yours and your gender identity is yours. Do what make you feel comfortable. Do what makes you happy. No one, not even others from our own community, have the right to police your gender identity or gender expression. This is not “disrespectful” to our transbrothers. If you are uncomfortable with your chest, or simply feel that, even just at certain times, you feel more comfortable binding, go ahead. The only thing that you need to be concerned about is what feels right to you, and that if you are binding, that you are doing it safely. I will disclose that I identify as gender non-conforming (not entirely male or entirely female, sometimes kind of both, often rather neither), but I bought a binder that I noticed makes me feel comfortable. Trust me when I say that I was worried about this too, especially when I truly did not understand my gender identity, but we need to know that sometimes, the only way to help ourselves begin to try to figure things out is to simply try these things.
Q: I do not know what pronouns I want/I am scared to ask people to use different pronouns.
A: You are valid. You are so valid. For some time I did not know what pronouns I wanted either. I had one close friend “experimenting” with they/them for me, and with another person I had them forgo pronouns all together. It is perfectly okay to try things on. Ask people you trust to help you try. It is okay if you feel like what you tried is not what feels right after all. It is okay for this to be trial and error. There are so many pronouns to choose from, and you do not even have to choose any. Take time to see what makes you feel comfortable and safe.
Do you have a question that is not listed here, or suggestions for questions to add?