AKA reminders to myself. AKA I KNOW I am legit but sometimes explaining to and educating and convincing and arguing with 574 people a day gets too much when all I want is for them to use some pronouns, and I want to take it all back and “go back” to being cis, and it’s especially bad when somebody whom I thought would be supportive is either unexpectedly aggressive or even just ambivalent, and I feel like shit, and then I minimise and invalidate myself, or I leap to the conclusion that nobody is ever going to believe me or take me seriously despite much evidence to the contrary from the many other actually supportive people, and then I catastrophize and sink into a Very Bad Place. AKA my life rn is a combination of stress from being misgendered, stress from looking for the right moment to tell each person that I want to tell, stress from not know how they will take it, and stress from unsupportive reactions.
Preamble: Because of gendered nouns and pronouns, for many trans people who don’t use the pronouns that match our assigned sex, not being out means a constant mid-level annoyance of getting misgendered every few sentences. Yet, the process of coming out as something that apparently NOBODY has ever heard of, is often so very tedious… Here’s a robot-hugs comic about the correction, definition, explanation, discussion, debate process that I identify with so badly. Nevertheless, you may decide that it is worth it within certain contexts (and it has been, for me), so here are some reminders that might help.
Note: Announcing new names and pronouns, especially names, is possible to do without coming out as trans. People change their names all the time, and polite people don’t demand an explanation if none is offered. See point 5. People do not need to know about your gender identity in order to use the correct pronouns. (I did not change my name, but included that in the title as many NBs announce these things together.) You can discuss as much or as little as you want; I will refer to all this as “coming out” for convenience, even if it is less a coming out and more a pronoun request for you.
1: There is not ONE perfect now or never moment to come out to anyone or any group of people. If you miss an opportunity, it just wasn’t the right moment for you and there will be more in the future.
2: Re: pronouns. You don’t have to come out to everyone all at once. It won’t be weird, I promise. Just encourage the people who know to try their best with your pronouns, and get them to explain if anyone asks. Probably nobody else will notice, or it will be like, “who?” “Shu Ning”, or the best case scenario in which they catch on.
3: Focus on people who are supportive. Take your time. It is normal to have Feelings even if goes really well. Plan your self-care, and be gentle with yourself. (The first conversation I had was really uneventful but still left me super anxious and incapacitated for two days for no apparent reason. Be prepared for this.)
4: You don’t have to convince EVERYBODY or win EVERY argument in order to be valid. Your feelings are real. You are THE expert on your feelings, even if not gender theory. Remember that trans people exist, whether people “understand” or “agree” with us or not. Things exist regardless of whether they make sense to anyone. You’re not going to convince quantum entanglement to stop existing even if it can’t answer your questions about “causality”, “relativity” or “internalised misogyny” to your satisfaction.
5: You are under no obligation to educate everybody, or even anybody. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone that you don’t want. Someone is being weirdly aggressive/dismissive? You can prod them a little, ask them some probing questions, OR you can walk away. You can participate in as many “but what is gender” discussions as you want, and this number can be 0. You have the right to say, “these are my pronouns. use them. thanks.”, end of conversation.
6: Be gentle with yourself when you screw up. It doesn’t matter. You are still valid. Bought into the myth of biological sex? Still NB. Overcompensated and played into gender roles and stereotypes? Still NB. Complete confusion about the difference between gender and gender roles? Still NB. Misgender yourself constantly in your head? Still NB. That last one especially. I know that it doesn’t mean anything, and I’m just conditioned to think this way, but I still yell at myself a lot in my head when that happens.
7: Be gentle with yourself when other people are saying invalidating things. For God’s sake don’t agree with them!
8: This is real. You are real. Many, many people have come before you throughout human history, and legions more will come after. You are not alone.
As terrifying as it can be at first, I promise you that it is worth it, that you will not always feel this way, and that you are not alone in feeling like this. So many of us here have been where you are right now. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but one day you will surrounded by people who love and support you for being exactly who you are. One day you will not feel scared and alone; you will feel loved and comfortable in yourself.
–w2radvice on exploring gender