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8 Tips for Coming Out as Trans

I’m Lewis Hancox – filmmaker, comedy writer, aspiring actor and a transgender advocate. I’m passionate about seeing more trans representation in the media. I love creating comedy sketches and films, writing, directing and acting in them. I’m co-creator of the My Genderation documentary project, telling the stories of the trans community.

Coming out is different for everyone, all I can do is draw from my own experiences and if these nuggets of advice help just one person then my job is done!

I’ve worked with Hollyoaks, Lucky Tooth Films, Channel 4 and All About Trans. My work has featured on BBC3, Latest TV, The Guardian, DIVA Magazine and more. I’m an ambassador for All About Trans and patron for the National Diversity Awards. I don’t pretend to be an expert on trans issues.

1. Come Out To Yourself

They say ‘how can others love you when you don’t love yourself?’ It can be hard enough just to accept yourself, never mind love yourself! But self-acceptance is the first step towards living your life authentically.

I used to be really embarrassed of feeling like a boy when my body disagreed. So I bottled everything up throughout high school and college. It took me time to realise that being transgender didn’t make me any less of a guy, or more importantly, any less of a person.

We’re all different in our own right and we should embrace those differences. You should feel good in knowing that you’ve figured out the root of the problem – it’s all uphill from here.

2. Make Connections

It’s good to chat with other trans folk and what better way to do this than from the comfort of your own home. There is a multitude of vlogs on YouTube and loads of support groups on Facebook, full of people eager to make new friends and talk all things trans.

The tiny Northern town I come from doesn’t have any trans support groups – in fact, most residents probably don’t know what the word ‘transgender’ means! Luckily, I discovered a whole community of gender variant individuals online. I got chatting with some inspirational people and, ultimately, it feels great to have a support network from the off.

3. Family Meeting

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be as formal as a ‘meeting’… but gathering your family (or close friends) together to explain your situation means you don’t need to go through the nerve-wracking process as many times. It also means you can do a bit of a ‘Q & A’, because there will be many questions!

Equally, if the thought of being in the spotlight is daunting, just tell one person at a time – whatever feels right. Try to remain calm and explain yourself as best you can. Consider referring them to videos of trans people and educational sites. If those who care about you react negatively, it may be because they’re scared for you. By introducing positive representations of trans people via vlogs and films, you’re showing them that transitioning can lead to a happy, healthy life.

4. A Little Patience

You have to prepare yourself for some not-so-positive reactions. Not everyone is going to understand straight away. The hope is that those who know you the best will realise you’re being true to yourself.

Other people may think you’re confused – when really, it’s them who are confused! Further down the line when those around you see how much more comfortable and confident you are since transitioning, they’ll surely realise that this was right for you. And if they don’t, maybe they’re not worth being in your life. Even some of my best friends struggled with calling me by my new name and male pronouns at first.

It’s not only people you need to be patient with – it’s the whole journey. As soon as I discovered that I was trans, I wanted to snap my fingers and be fully transitioned! The reality is it can take a few years to get hormones and surgery. Not everyone wants to medically transition of course. You are who you feel you are, regardless of the physical.

5. The Name Game

My first thought was that ‘I’m male’… Only later in life did it hit me that in order to ‘live in society as male’ I’d have to change my name. You may have a nickname, or you may be happy with your birth name and not feel the need to change it at all – if you have a gender-neutral name, that’s ideal! If you do want to change it however, you can do this for around £30 via deed poll online. But do take your time in choosing a name! It could be something similar to your original name, to make it easier for others (and yourself) to adjust.

I went from Lois to Lewis… not much of a change there! Some people want to change theirs to something completely different. Why not ask opinions from friends and family to make them feel included?

6. Call The Doctor

Physically transitioning begins at your local GP. They can refer you a local psychologist who can then refer you on to the Gender Clinic. I hadn’t been to my GP in years before that all-important appointment. I was terrified and didn’t know how to explain myself. If I could go back in time, I’d say it with confidence and make sure I got what I needed.

More often than not doctors aren’t so clued up on trans issues. They need to respect that this is not a lifestyle choice – this is how you were born. There are even studies that show the white matter in a trans man’s brain resembles that of a biological male’s brain, and vice versa for trans women. But let’s not get too scientific… just get that referral!

7. Living Proof

When I was first told by the Gender Clinic they needed proof in the form of documents I was ‘living as male’, I was dumbfounded. I retorted that I’d lived my whole life as male because I WAS male!

Looking back now, I do understand why they need proof. It’s helpful that they push you in that direction because that’s generally the aim anyway, to transition in all areas of life. So, you need to make sure that once you’ve changed your title and name, you alter your ID and also inform your school, college or workplace so that they can change your details there too.

This doesn’t mean you need to come out to the whole world, just tell those who are in change and can sort out your documentations. Take it all at your own pace and remember there are laws in place for discrimination, so no need to be scared.

8. Press Play

I put my life on pause for years because of transitioning. I pushed all of my ambitions to one side and couldn’t focus on anything else. Now I have a lot of catching up to do! If there were only one bit of advice I could give to someone trans, it would be to not let transitioning stop you from achieving your dreams.

Foremost, I’m a filmmaker, writer, actor, boyfriend, best friend, son, coffee-drinker, doodler, daydreamer… being transgender is such a small part of who I am and the same goes for you.

So invest your energy into something worthwhile. Why not get creative, use your experiences to inspire you – write a blog, a song, a script. Make a film, a comic, a collage. Keep positive and don’t lose yourself. Yeah, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey but everything is hard before it gets easy.

For more inspiration and to keep up with Lewis, don’t forget to follow @MrLewzer on Twitter.

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COMMENTS

Lewis, you have touched on so many issues here. It is important to retain focus on some goals & direction in life. Thankfully I have managed to keep a focus, despite difficult times & a few difficult people. Life goes on & I am thankful to the people who believed in me. I have no regrets & my gender surgery is scheduled for this year, but the date has to be confirmed. Life is now worth living!!! xx

Thank you Lesley! I’m so pleased you remained positive and congratulations on getting your surgery this year!! Agree with how important it is to keep focused on your goals, even though easier said than done. Wishing you all the very best! 🙂 xx

Thanks Lewis, it is important to remain focused, as one has to have a goal to remain motivated. I share your love of acting, but no opportunity has yet beckoned. We spoke briefly at ‘Sparkle’ 2 years ago. Good luck my friend, you’re truly an inspiration. 🙂 xx

Thank u Lewis. A lot of what you have said resonated with me. I’m 40 and when I was a teen there wasn’t the kind of information and support that is available now. I tried explaining on several occasions as a kid to parents and the doctor how I felt. The doctor prescribed me temazepan when I was 10 for a week to help me sleep cos I was in turmoil. I don’t think anyone can get that stuff now! I even begged my doctor in front of my dad to cut off my breasts cos I didn’t want them and pretty much got laughed at. I came out as lesbian at 14 (cos thats what I thought I was) and my parents freaked out and made my life extremely difficult. I just felt pressured to conform. 5 kids later and still miserable trapped in a body that doesn’t represent how I feel on the inside. I have now started to realise that I am a man it still feels hard to accept especially when I’m in the shower or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror but I’m slowly learning to accept that this is who I am. The next big step is going back to the doctor and reliving the nightmare and standing my ground to get the balling rolling again.

I’m really pleased you could relate to some of this. It sounds like your experiences as a kid are very similar to mine! I’m sorry you had to go through all that. But it sounds like you’re about to step up and start living for you, so congrats!! Just think, the world is a lot more aware of trans issues now, so surely the doctor will be miles more supportive and helpful than when you were a kid. All the very best with everything! And thank you for sharing your story with me

That makes me feel better…i will be beginning my journey tomorrow…and i am in tears of the anticipation. All of the things i was worried about has be diminished…thank you!

Wow, I’m so touched that you feel that way – the fact that this has helped to curb your fears, well, that’s all I could hope for. All the very best for your journey! Stay positive and enjoy the ride 🙂

Hugs and support. I am roughly 10 months in.

Cross only the boundaries you are ready to love. Make sure you have friends who support you, wherever you go. It’s very helpful.

I have to congratulate you Lewis. You really did things well for yourself. I have to say after looking at this, I’m one hell of a coward. I came out as trans to my coworkers 2 years ago and was humiliated by them cause they talked behind my back. It just made me feel worse about myself and who I was so I basically said fuck it and said I didn’t give a shit when really I was hurt and lost with no support. They all went back to calling me a girl which has always made me feel shitty. It was that and my best friend didn’t like the fact that I felt that way cause she met me when I was still hiding behind a girls appearance cause my mom wanted to be that way and denied my every want to be who I felt like inside. Even after dating a girl for 3 years and finally showing my true self for the last three years of high school I was ridiculed but my family. There’s many days that I’m actually glad to be cocked up on medications that help me get past dysphoria and stabilize my mood. When those wear off or don’t work I get really anxious about my appearance. I didn’t even recognize that was an issue till my senior year of high school. I even tried steering away from feeling like this and experimented. Every road I took made me feel the same. Everything I tried still drew me back to feeling trans because that what I am, transgender. I’ve even had the talks and what not with my family. Honestly, I’m flying solo on this. I’m supporting myself and saving every penny towards transitioning. I really wish these steps were easy. Cause they are a lot more work than they are made out to be. I’m glad those these steps worked for you. They just don’t work that way for everyone. I wish I had more guidance in my life when it comes to gender identity issues. I’d be taking this a step further cause I need to.

Hey buddy, I understand some of the things you are going through. This process is never easy for anyone. I myself am hitting that difficult stage of coming out to people and most often the response is less than promising. My way of getting through this is getting educated about it. Being able to deflect and answer some of those harsh comments and questions that are thrown at you can make you feel stronger. Feeling the strength of deeply knowing who you are and what you are going through and what you need to do to be happy, is just as important as the transition itself. Knowledge truly is power. People find it hard to attack someone who is incredibly more educated about the topic. Also, you will react less to their harmful attitudes because you will better understand their stupidity than them! I am like you, too scared to come out completely… but I know it has to be done, regardless of the consequences. Not for them, for us.
I know a lot of people give you that cheesy bullshit of ‘you’re not alone’ but in this case man, you truly aren’t. I am here for you. We are here for you. We are all fighting similar battles and all of our battles are adding up to a war again discrimination and inequality. Fuck them, build yourself from the inside out, reach out to people like us, just like you did on this forum. Make yourself such an incredible person that they regret being so ignorant. You may not think it, but there are people like us everywhere. Their always have been. Find us, seek us out. Make queer friends. That is what I am doing now, and it stems the pain of loneliness and isolation. More and more I realize how normal us queer folk are and how two dimensional and superficial the world makes people. People who don’t understand speak from within ‘the bubble’… the made up social conventions that everyone takes so damn seriously. You and I are lucky in a way… we are forced by circumstance to be outside of that bubble and in a lot of ways, free of it. Explore that freedom. It is you who is amazing. It is you who will shine when you finally break through and become who you feel inside.
Love from Australia,
Andie

I am trying to plan a coming out party… thinking about doing it on my birthday.. anyone else done a coming out party? any Advice?

I’m only fifteen, any tips for teen trans people? I’m very nervous, but I hate living the way I’m living right now, as a male, and it’s getting worse.

Hi Ana,
We understand how hard it can be, but confiding in somebody who you trust will be an incredibly powerful thing. Only do it if you feel safe doing it though. Once you’ve made that initial jump, so much weight will drop from your shoulders and you’ll have a clearer vision of next steps.

Remember that what you are going through is totally natural and there is nothing you can do to change it. Ignoring it will make it even harder to accept and move on to live your life as you were meant to. Remember that there is always support available for you if things don’t go as planned.

Good luck.

I hear you I’m in the same situation but I’m only 11. I’m not even out to my parents well you’re the first to know.

I’m nearly 13 years old and I’m scared to confront my mum incase she thinks it’s a joke and she will think I’m not thinking it through when I’ve wanted to be a boy all my life and have been thinking about telling her for about 4 months, I don’t know what to do. I’m ready for it but I don’t think she is.. (If I did change I would be FTM btw)

I’ve recently started my coming out process. All my social networks and whatnot are still using my birth name because I’m not out to everybody yet. I’ve done a couple of the things in this list out of order, but I’ve come out to myself, I’ve made connections, I’ve chosen my name, and I’ve already been in contact with the doctor to start my HRT in a couple months. I was connected to a good doctor through another trans person I contacted upon starting my coming out process, so I didn’t require all that proof and whatnot. All the doctor wants to do is make sure that I’m not a danger to myself, and that I am fully informed of what side-effects I can expect from testosterone before consenting. I’m finding the rest to be more difficult – I have a plan in place of when I’m going to change my name in the school system (my university thankfully has a ‘preferred name’ policy in place because of a trans student who gave them shit in the past), but coming out to my family still terrifies me. Despite that, this article made me feel better about my position because it seems like I’ve already covered a lot of it myself in my early period of transitioning.

What do you mean “living proof”? Does that mean like how long you’ve been out of the closet and presenting as the opposite gender?

I’m a transgender boy and I’m terrified to come out to my boyfriend. I’ve hinted it to him and he says he’d still love me and he would still want to be with me, but I don’t know. I don’t really care what anyone else says about it, I just really don’t want to lose my best friend / the love of my life.

I’m not transgender, but i support you all the way ! And do not understand the people who bully or attacks you. Dont let anyone tell you, you are wierd or bad. You are beautifull ! I wish there will be more tolerance in the world. Not just for transgenders, but for everyone ! Greetz and hugs xoxo

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