Coming out as transgender: Are you ready for their reactions?

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By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist-

Let’s talk about coming out. You’ve finally accepted that you are transgender and that you are going to transition to your true gender. You are full of excitement at the thought of living as your true gender and you know that there will probably be some problems. But you are gung-ho and ready to finally begin to live your life as yourself! Now it’s time to tell your family and friends, the people at work, the people at your church, the people in your golf league, bowling team, book club, rock band or whatever your activities are. They are all going to know about you and you are hoping for the best. Look out, world, here you come!

Having been through this process and talking with others who have been there too, let me tell you that not everyone will react the same. As a matter of fact, some people who you thought would be receptive to your transition may not accept it at all. And some people who you think will never accept you will do so without even batting an eye. You think that you know someone and can predict their reactions? You will probably be surprised no matter how sure you are of others’ reactions.

Some people will be very OK with your plans to transition, and they will tell you that they think it’s wonderful, and that they will support you totally. Some of these people already know you were headed in this direction, and this may surprise you. “How did they know? Did I give off clues?” are some of the thoughts you might have about these intuitive souls. It’s all good with this group!

Of course, there will be people who do not like this idea at all, and they will tell you so in no uncertain terms. Some of these people may never, ever speak to you again. Maybe further on down the road they will come to terms with your transition, but some may not. You have lost them forever. I’m sorry, it’s awful. But that’s just the way it is sometimes.

Some people will think that you are kidding and they will refuse to believe you. When they finally see that you are serious about it, some will be OK with it while others will think you are crazy and headed down the wrong path. They just don’t understand how or why you want to live as the other gender. It’s really very hard to try to explain being transgender to these folks. If they could only see that it is what it is, we are who we are, and we need to be who we are, maybe then they would understand.

Recently, I was with a group of about a dozen transpeople and a couple of allies. During our conversations, one of the allies, I will call her Linda (not her real name), posed a question to the group. Linda asked: If there were a pill or a shot that transgenders could take that would turn us back into our birth genders, would we take it? We all said we would not take that pill or shot. Linda responded, “but your lives [would] be so much easier.” We all tried to explain that it is just who we are. We are trans. That is us.

To help her understand, I asked Linda if she was a Boston Red Sox fan. She said, emphatically, “Oh, yes.” I asked her if there were a pill or a needle she could take that would turn her into a New York Yankees fan, would she take it? Not surprisingly, Linda said “No!,” again quite emphatically. I said, “You are a Red Sox fan and you do not want to be a Yankee fan. I am a woman who does not want to be a man. And neither one of us wants to take that pill or that shot. It really is the same thing. You are who you are and we are who we are.”

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at a local Fortune 500 company. She can be contacted at


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