It can be difficult to embody your authentic self and gender when you are not fully “out” in the world. You do not need to come out to practice gender-affirmation; coming out is a process and is not necessarily everyone’s goal or where they are at in their life. Not everyone can come out safely to the people in their lives and in all the spaces of their lives, and they may not want to. Finding affirming spaces, people, and moments for trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people may be incredibly powerful no matter where they are on their gender exploration journey.
As a cisgender queer person, I am writing from a perspective of allyship rather than lived experience. There are inherent limitations in this and I would recommend using this in conjunction with other materials from TGNC communities as well as your own lived experience and what works for you.
These questions may be helpful to ask yourself while considering how you can practice gender-affirmation in your life, no matter how “out” you are. It may take time to consider these questions. Be gentle with yourself as you think about the topics explored here:
- When are times in the day or night when I can be myself? What can I do during these times to practice gender-affirmation?
- If you are out to one or more people, what pronouns and names would you like them to use for you when speaking with people you know, people you don’t know, directly to you over text or in person?
- Is there a safe way to consume media centering TGNC folx? (e.g. on your personal devices/ in your home.) Do you have a loved one whose device you could use when you are with them?
- Are there safe ways to journal about your identity in your home?
- Can you safely keep gender-affirming clothes or belongings in your home? If not, do you have a loved one whose home you could keep your stuff in? How might you ask them to do so?
- Do you have access to gender-affirming therapists or other mental health or medical care?
- Are there any TGNC or queer groups or centers in your area? Can you safely attend them?
- Are there online communities you can join?
- Are there TGNC elders (by age or experience) or peers you can connect with on or offline?
- Are there gender-specific spiritual, cultural, or religious clothing or symbols that you can safely embrace and utilize that would affirm your gender? What are some times and places you can do so?
- Are there “hidden” ways you can affirm your gender? (e.g. shaving your legs but wearing long pants)
This post may have brought up some feelings for readers and those feelings may differ depending on where you or your loved one is in their journey. There is no one path to gender-affirmation. Allow yourself grace and patience during this time as it can be an exhausting and difficult process to find this safety and affirmation (out or not out) and it can be so incredibly beneficial to identify ways to help yourself to feel affirmed in exactly who you are.
Questions to reflect on after reading this:
- How did it feel to read this? Did it feel encouraging, discouraging? How can you process the way this made you feel?
- Do you have any new ideas? How can you put those ideas into actionable steps?
- How can you take care of yourself today?