ChangeRead time in minutes: 7
Coming out as transgender/nonbinary to someone you care about one of the most terrifying things you can do. At least it feels that way, it feels like things are going to change and you'll lose that person. It can be gut-wrenching, especially for family.
For me the scariest part of this whole thing has been the change in how people see me. It can be a huge abrupt difference for some people, and the unknowns in how people will react to that can make you paralyzed with fear. So, let's look at change a little.
Life is a constant change. Stop for a moment right now and feel your body. Feel how the pressure in your chest changes as your lungs subconsciously inhale and exhale. If you have a watch, look at the seconds hand (or equivalent digital display) and watch it tick forward for a bit. Change is constant, yet still continuously moving forward. Even though the change is happening though, everything is still roughly the same as it was before. Blood continues to move through your body, constantly cycling its oxygen with other parts, but it continues.
Coming out to my parents was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. I was nervous beyond belief. I hardly ate that day I hit send. I turned off my phone after doing it and got lost in a game that I liked playing. The real reason it was so scary to me though is that I had already tried to come out to them in the past but I was shut down.
Middle school was rough for me. I don't really remember much of it (other than they banned high fives for "gang activity"), but that was when my parents found my diary app. I don't remember why they were going through my laptop (I grew up in one of those kinds of Jesus freak households), but they found it somehow and my entries where I was questioning my gender came to their attention and they confronted me about it. I was not ready at all. I was completely blindsided by it. That attempt to come out failed and I was put into Christian "counseling". I was pushed deep back into the closet and I still have trouble writing down my thoughts in a journal to this day.
So that day I hit "send" on the email was mortally terrifying. All that fear from so long ago came raging up to the surface and I was left in a crying and vulnerable state. However it ended up being a good kind of cry, the healing kind.
My relationship with my parents (and later my siblings) has deteriorated since, and not just for religious differences. However, I am fine. I am still healing and I probably will be healing for a long time and I have accepted that. In place, I have found something more powerful to put in their place. I have found a new family of choice.
This was a huge change, but it ended up being for the better. That change was a tool to help me live a better life surrounded by the people I wanted to be around as opposed to the people I inherited.
There's an idiom that comes to mind, something that is in the "completely misunderstood" brand of idioms: "blood is thicker than water". It's often used by people to emphasize the importance of familial relationships over friendships or the like (family is the "blood" part of that idiom, and friendships are the "water" part). The full form of the idiom is closer to this:
The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb
This overall sentiment is commonly interpreted by Christian scholars to have a meaning closer to "the bond between Jesus and someone who chooses to believe in Him is stronger than the bond between family members", however we can afford to interpret this differently for the sake of this message.
The bonds you choose are stronger than the bonds you inherited. The bonds I have with my friends, my husband, my closest companions and all those who I keep close to me are stronger than the bonds with my family will ever be.
In a way, coming out as transgender to people and that level of associated change has become a tool to help me figure out who really cares about me and who I should bother keeping around me. It's my life. I can live it as honestly, openly and real as I want to. I don't have to justify it to anyone but myself.
You don't really have to justify this level of change to anyone else but yourself either. It'll let you know who your real friends are, for better and for worse. You don't have to keep anyone around you that can't accept you for who you are. Your family of choice will always have stronger bonds than your family of origin.
The Dude abides, so will you. Change as a result of coming out can be a good thing as much as it can be a bad thing. Don't let inherent negativity biases blind you to that.