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I’m trans. I’ve been hanging out with someone I like, but this person doesn’t know that I’m trans. What should I do?

Communication is a key element in any relationship. Talking with someone you’re interested in isn’t easy. For people who are trans, this can seem like an even bigger challenge.

Start by thinking about what’s behind your question. Are you hoping to become good friends? Or more? Do you feel that not telling this person about your gender identity is unfair or dishonest? Do you want this person to know more about you so you feel closer and more understood? Are things becoming more serious and you want to talk to your friend now to avoid embarrassment or a surprise later on? Or maybe you think this person may already sense there’s something more you want to tell them and you want to set the record straight.

Before you take action, you might want to consider the following:

  •  Do you expect that the conversation will be kept private? How will you feel if it isn’t?
  • Consider the best possible outcome as well as the worst. How will you feel, realistically, if each one happens? Are you willing to accept those outcomes, and others that you might not have anticipated?
  • What are you hoping will happen if you tell this person? What if that doesn’t happen?

Here are some suggestions if you decide you want to tell this person you’re trans:

  • Find the right time and place. Because many people assume there are only two genders, someone may be surprised to have their understanding challenged. Pick a place and a time that is private, but not isolated, where you won’t be interrupted, but where there are other people in case the situation becomes unsafe.
  • Be prepared to give your friend some information. He or she might be surprised or curious and could benefit from some additional information about trans issues and time to absorb what you have to say. On the other hand, there are also people who know a lot about transgender people, so be prepared for someone who might react with confusion or hurt by saying, “Why did you take so long to tell me? Didn’t you trust me?”
  • Have some patience. People’s reactions can be very mixed—surprise, fear, delight, disbelief, joy. Some people may also have a lot of questions like, “Are you sure?” or, “How did you know?” Remember that just as some trans people may take time to fully understand themselves, people who aren’t trans may need time to understand their friends who are trans. Try to be patient and maintain open communication and remind the person of how important it is that you are sharing this part of yourself with them. Be ready to answer questions.

If society builds an awareness and acceptance of the diversity of gender identities, trans people who are “out” will become more common and understanding will increase. Many societies throughout history have recognized and celebrated gender diversity. With increased understanding and education, our society can become a more inviting and comfortable place to express all the parts of an individual’s sense of self.

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