‘Coming Out’ As A Gender-Diverse Person
It is unfortunate that people who have a diverse gender often get grouped with people who have a diverse sexual orientation, especially when there is little connection.
The two groups became paired due to phobia and discrimination. There was safety for both groups when socialising together, at a time when society was not wise to the differences, both were viewed as deviant. This connection between "gay' and 'trans' often leads to a confusion between what a drag queen is, and what a transgendered person is, and the same goes for sexuality and gender. The 'everyday' person (gay or straight), often view gay bars as having ‘drag queens’ (gay men dressed up as the opposite sex for entertainment purposes), and gay means same sex attraction, so people who are diverse-gendered must be either homosexual or bisexual. This situation can result in a diverse-gendered person having to not only having to explain their diverse-gender when they come out, but also justifying their sexuality. People who are diverse in their gender identify their sexual attraction to others as; straight, gay, bisexual and queer, no different to any other human.
The ‘coming-out process’ can be much more difficult for people who are diverse-gendered, in comparison to people who are sexually diverse. If a diverse-gendered person, presents and lives their life in society as they identify and naturally feel, then their ‘diverse-gender’ is going to be obvious to those around them.
For many 'same sex attracted' people, they can present in society without exhibiting their diverse sexual orientation, resulting in being able to avoid standing out, and in-turn from attracting possible discrimination and violence. This view does not ignore or underestimate the many same sex attracted people who have been discriminated and violated due to being themselves in society, however these differences between living your gender identity and living your sexual orientation can negatively affect the ability for a person to safely explore their gender, as well as the freedom to be themselves when engaging in everyday life.
Some common experiences that can affect gender diverse people when coming out, include:
· feeling‘ different’ from other people around you.
· phobic bullying about your gender identity, whether verbal or physical.
· feeling pressure to define or deny your feelings regarding your gender identity.
· feeling unsupported or worried that your gender identity will not be accepted by friends and family members, along with the possibility of being rejected or isolated.
· feeling stressed and anxious in relation to the pressure to conform with your sex assigned at birth.
· constant discriminatory attacks from media, church, politicians and the general public.
Feeling these pressures can be stressful, especially with all the other stresses in your life such as managing school or university, job hunting, forming relationships, and making sense of who you are and your place in the world.
It is important to add that sometimes therapy is required for others who are outside of the person who is coming out as diverse-gendered. In many instances, the diverse-gendered person has re-played the coming out scenario a thousand times in their head and are aware of the processes that they would use, and the potential fears of things going wrong. Sometimes planning or researching for the coming out event, the person requires brief support.
Dave Wells has worked extensively with people who are diverse-gendered and is also knowledgeable and empathetic about the societal barriers and difficulties that can present, as well as the necessary psychological and medical referral pathways required if the person presents with wanting re-assignment surgery, hormone therapy, or hormone- blockers.
Many people are very comfortable and confident with being diverse-gendered and experience other difficulties outside of how they identify. Finding a professional who is ‘safe’ to talk to without judgement and basing everything around a person’s gender diversity, can be difficult to find. Dave Wells will give you this respect.