Coming Out as Genderqueer
By Elena Hooper, 18, Staff Writer
Originally Published: June 3, 2015
Revised: September 14, 2015
Almost 11 months ago, I realized something about myself—something that was quite unexpected. I realized I was not a girl. But I didn’t see myself as transgender either. Reading up on the existence of genders outside the binary—being either a guy or a girl—gave me some clarity on my situation. In the beginning, as I was just starting to learn more, not feeling like I was a girl or a guy brought up a lot of feelings, mainly confusion and anxiety. I wasn’t sure if what I felt was legitimate or not. Did I really feel this way? Is it even possible to not be any one gender? Was I transgender and just afraid to admit it to myself?
I wasn’t sure if what I felt was legitimate or not. Did I really feel this way? Is it even possible to not be any one gender?
Coming Out and Finding Myself
Talking about how I was feeling with my boyfriend was surprisingly easy. He was very understanding. He suggested that maybe I was an in-between gender, and so I did more research. I found that the gender identity that described me best was androgyne. It was the perfect word to describe how I felt about myself: a mesh of boy and girl, not distinctly one or the other. I came out to the other people in the gay–straight alliance (GSA) at my school about my gender identity and they helped me pick a pronoun—which is ze. I was so happy I cried. I felt like I gained a part of myself that I was always missing.
I was feeling confident and comfortable in my own skin again. I knew I wanted to tell my family right away. The thought made me nervous, but I knew it was for the best. That day happened to be my mother’s birthday, and we—my mom, my dad, my aunt and I— were going out to dinner. While at the restaurant, I was asked about how my day was. I figured it was now or never to tell them, so I did.
They were shocked initially, especially my mother. They all sat silently at the table for a few moments, and I waited. My aunt was the first to speak, “If that’s how you felt about yourself, then that’s fine. We love you no matter what,” she said. My father looked at me thoughtfully and reiterated what my aunt had said. My mother was the last to speak. She explained that she would have to think about it and get used to it. She was more apprehensive, especially when I introduced my pronoun, but she opened up as the conversation got more in depth. They didn’t ask me a lot of questions, but they were respectful when they did, like asking me how long I’d felt this way. Overall, it was a successful coming out.
It didn’t seem like my gender identity was confusing to them, but what was difficult was getting used to the change in pronoun. For awhile I had to frequently remind them. There are times I still feel misunderstood, because when I correct them, they seem to get exasperated, which can be annoying. But they’ve gotten better as the months have gone by, and I’m correcting them less.
Everyone Has a Story
I’m sure some of you who read this have a coming out story of your own. Maybe it was an easy and natural conversation. Maybe your coming out was met with conflict. Maybe your family didn’t quite understand or were not even accepting of it, which can be one of the hardest things to deal with. Even if your family environment doesn’t support your sexual orientation or gender identity, there are always safe spaces where you can find acceptance for who you are. And if you are in a fortunate situation where your family does accept you, there are still going to be rough patches. No one is perfect, and even the people who love you the most are going to slip up occasionally—with the wrong pronoun, for example.
If it’s safe for you to come out to your family, come out—and then give them time. It can be hard for parents or guardians to adjust, but it doesn’t mean they don’t accept you. Be patient with them, and they’ll be patient with you. And with time, who you are and how you identify won’t be a big deal.
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