„Coming Out“ is a term which describes the journey from the first notion to definite knowledge and acceptance of your own romantic and sexual orientation and identity.
How you tell the people in your environment (family, friends, colleagues and so on) is also part of the coming out process. There are two phases during the process of Coming Out: the inner and outer coming out phase. We will first tell you about Coming Out with regards to your sexual and romantic orientation, then go on to sexual identity.
Coming Out and your Sexual and Romantic Orientation.
The Inner Coming Out
The inner coming out is a process during which you discover which gender attracts you,
right up to the point of realization that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, aromantic, pansexual or another form of queer. You may at first have problems in accepting your own sexual or romantic orientation and experience insecurity or fear. This is partly due to the fact that we live in a society which regards heterosexuality (sex between a man and a woman) as normal. It is not always easy to come to terms with the fact that you are different from most people around you. Take your time – as much time as you need, without putting yourself under pressure.
Once you have fully accepted that you are different, you will discover
that being different is actually quite nomal.
Sexual and romantic orientation comes in many different forms. At times you may think that your feelings and form of attraction can’t be possible. But it is possible, because you are that way and you are as valuable as the next person. And you can be sure that there are others who have similar feelings as you do.
The Outer Coming out
The outer coming out is all about showing yourself in public as you really are and no longer having to hide. This means telling people in your environment (for example, you parents, your friends, teachers) about what gender or genders attract you. You can start by telling a person you trust (for example your best friend) or meet with a person in a similar situation to exchange experiences. Coming Out can be very liberating and with time you will be able to live your life as you really are.
Coming Out – an Individual Process
The inner and outer coming out are closely related to each other. The process of coming out, however, can be completely different from one person to the next. The length of the process is very different, ranging from a few months to several years. Coming Out is not restricted to a certain age, it doesn’t matter how old you are when you Come Out. It is entirely your decision as to when, how and who you want to tell. Nobody has the right to force you into something that you don’t want!
Coming Out and your Sexual Identity
The Inner Coming Out
Most people believe there are two clearly defined genders and have difficulty in understanding anything which does not fit into this concept. Trans-People often face the same difficulties in the beginning. Some of us know from an early age what we are and express ourselves clearly in that way. Others feel uncomfortable with the gender that they were assigned at birth, but don’t know what to do with these feelings. It takes time to find your own identity.
It doesn’t help that nobody actually really knows what it means to be a girl or a boy and what it means to be neither of them. People are very different and sexual identity cannot be determined from the outside.
At first, many Trans-People look for evidence and explanations. Trans-women will talk about how they always preferred to play with girls or enjoyed needlework class. This has nothing to do with sexual identity. After all, plenty of boys enjoy that too and there are girls who like to repair engines.
The Outer Coming Out
Each Trans-Person has their own journey and their own speed to determine when and with who they out themselves. Coming Out means giving the people around you the chance to see who you really are. “Please don’t call me Sarah now, I am Tom! And say “he” when you are talking about me”. This is not easy for the people around you and it can be especially difficult for your parents. If you are coming out at school or at the workplace, it is a good idea to prepare a plan and look for support. The great thing about coming out is that you no long need to hide yourself and can wear the clothes and the hairstyle you like and that really suit your gender.
Different Ways of Dealing with it
Some Trans-People decide not to come out after the transition. This is sometimes called “stealth living”. If nobody knows that you are Trans, then you will not get strange looks, be criticized or discriminated against. The disadvantage of this is that there is a chance that you will get into situations in which you must fear that your secret will be revealed. Sometimes you have to out yourself to medical staff. There are also Trans People who are involuntarily out, because it is clearly visible that they are Trans. With time, you will know with whom you want to be out and who you don’t want to know.