My coming out experience differs quite a lot between my friends and my family.
I was 16 when I came out as transgender to my friends. It was quite easy as I had just started college and most of my friends were different from before, so I was comfortable to be myself almost immediately with them as they wouldn’t have known any different from me.
Coming out to my family was quite difficult. Even now some members of my family still don’t know. I found it difficult with my immediate family, as I felt like I would be disappointing them. The more I prolonged coming out to them, the worse the fear got, until it had gotten so bad I spiralled into a black hole. My family almost lost me over a fear that was solely in my head.
It wasn’t until about a year after having come out to my friends that I was feeling strong enough to speak to my family, but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t face their reaction, so I left my parents a note explaining who I was. I was expecting some form of reaction, either positive or negative, but got nothing. I look back now and put this down to them trying to process it, but at the time I didn’t see it this way. I saw it as denial. I didn’t want to rush to this conclusion so gave them time to see if they would provide some form of reaction.
Months went by and they were still using my dead name (dead name being someone’s name they no longer wish to be called by). Since originally coming out to my family, I’ve come out to them twice more, as I needed some response from them to know where I stood but they didn’t respond. This left me in limbo with my family, I didn’t want to lose my family, I blamed myself, I would think ‘if only I were normal’, when in reality there was nothing for me to blame myself for.
I would say the second time I came out to them was very similar to the first. It wasn’t until the third time that they became more receptive to me and slightly more comfortable talking about my gender identity.
It can be very difficult to come out to a friend or family member, especially when you aren’t sure how they will respond. The best advice I can give is to not wait too long, you don’t want to put it off and then keep putting it off. There’s no ‘right way’ to come out to someone, all you should do is come out in a way you are comfortable with.