Today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day! I've talked about my experiences in depth on this blog before, so this is a bit redundant:
My name is Katie Stafford. I am bisexual. I am transgender. I refuse to hide who I am or debate my existence with anyone.
When I came out as trans, most of the reactions were positive or mixed.
The first person I told was a trans girl I knew online. I said:
So I found this subreddit the other day: https://www.reddit.com/r/egg_irl/, and it was uncomfortable how much I related to a lot of the memes there. I don't know if I'm trans or not, but I'm going to at least explore to figure out what extent I am.
Heh, makes sense. I know I just thought I was a pretty feminine guy until fairly recently.
- When I came out to Scrydan, I said:
Recently, I've been kinda questioning where I fit in as far as gender, and I'm probably genderfluid, maybe nonbinary. I'm not past questioning at this point. I've picked out a name and I'm kinda exploring it online, but I haven't really given much thought to actually transitioning. It may be the case that it's not for me.He replied,
To be honest, I really like you. You're really special. ... I think if we keep hitting it off, we should really consider getting together/dating. As for transitioning, it really is up to you.
- I came out privately to a group of friends in a group chat. I said:
One friend said:
Over the past few months, I've slowly come to the realization that I might be transgender.
I tried to dismiss these thoughts as curiosity, but I started realizing that it was more than that.
Two weeks ago, I decided to begin exploring a feminine identity. I chose the name 'Katie' and started using that online. Slowly, I've been starting to use it more and more, and I feel that it fits me quite well.
I can't say for certain what the future holds, but for now, I'm proceeding as if I will fully transition.
Thank you for trusting us. Whatever you need, we'll be here. ♥️Another said:
I commend your quest for self-knowledge and your courage in dealing with what you've discovered head-on! 🙂A third friend said:
Thank you for including me. Anything I can do, you just let me know. You have my full support!
- Coming out to my father was trickier because I had no idea how he would react. I wrote a long letter explaining my feelings, and answering a few questions that I thought he might ask. I sent him a link to the letter, and his response was cautious:
I saw on your page you said you were bi & I accepted that. I just hope you think long & hard about this. A lot of people that are accepting of gays & other groups still have trouble with gender identity. Forgive me if I have some trouble getting used to this, but I will try.
He was mainly concerned with how my mother would react.
- I decided I didn't need to be that long winded with my aunt. I texted her:
I wanted to tell you that I've been talking to a therapist for a few months and I've realized that the source of my anxiety has been gender dysphoria. So I've been exploring that, and living as a woman in private. I've come to realize that this is the right thing for me.She replied,
Oh really!? I guess I didnt realize you had so much going on. You should come over and talk some time.
- Coming out at work was very formal and involved a lot of preparation. It involved several meetings with managers and HR. I drafted an email to send to the team which was reviewed by my boss and his boss.
I have enjoyed working for ██████ for the last year and a half, and have grown to count many of you as friends as well as coworkers. Several of you I have known for more than a decade working at ██████. There is a personal issue that I have been dealing with privately for a while now, but it cannot remain private forever.
Some of you may have noticed subtle changes in the way I dress and speak. This is because I have been transitioning to female, and have been living as female outside of work for several weeks now. This may come as a surprise to many of you, especially those who have known me the longest. The past year has been a long journey of discovery for me. For my entire life, I've suppressed and denied feelings of being female. Lately, however, my dysphoria has reached a point where I no longer have a choice. I am so much happier as a woman that I dread having to present as male at work.
I have chosen the name "Jennifer Kathryn Stafford", and prefer to be addressed as "Katie". I have filed a legal petition to change my name, and barring any paperwork issues, this will become my legal name after a court hearing on ██████.
Effective ██████, I will begin presenting as female at work. You will notice an immediate change in my appearance. From that point forward, I ask you to please address me by my new name and use female pronouns when referring to me. I understand that it will take some time to adjust, and slip-ups will occur. I will not be upset by minor mistakes. If you slip up and I or someone else corrects you, please apologize and move on. Most of my friends outside of work have adjusted quickly.
I hope that this transition will be completed with the least amount of disruption to the workplace. I understand that this may be difficult for many people to understand and accept. I have attached a PowerPoint presentation which you can look at if you have any questions. Please contact me privately through email or Slack if you’d like to know more. I look forward to continuing the great professional relationship we’ve had previously, and hope we can go on to an even more productive future.
I got a few replies, all positive. One coworker even confided that his teenager was questioning their gender identity.
Not all reactions were positive, though.
Bizarrely, the first negative reaction was someone on a transgender support group on Facebook. I made an introduction post, saying I was questioning my identity, and the first comment was:
I personally don't like how you can't decide what you are. Either you know or you don't. It's not a trend, dude. Smh.
That person quickly got banned from the group.
- Coming out to my mother has been the most difficult. I sent her a letter similar to the one I sent my dad. She had such a negative reaction that I was heartbroken. I know she still loves me, and I still love her, too, but this has put a big strain on our relationship. I really hope that over time, she will come to accept me as her daughter.
When most people think of "coming out", they think of news stories - celebrities, politicians, actors, other public figures. In reality, coming out is a long process. It must be done multiple times and tailored to the each individual person or group. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes it's hard. It takes strength and courage, even coming out to people you know are supportive. If someone comes out to you, the best thing to do is to show your support. Be positive. Get excited! It means they care enough about you to share their feelings with you. Don't question if they are serious. Don't assume it's just a phase. Nobody comes out without putting a lot of thought into it.
So, I'd like to send my love and support to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, whether you're out, in the closet, or just coming out today!