Coming out can be confusing, difficult, and exhausting. Sometimes writing a letter can facilitate the process. If you expect the recipient to be aggressive in response, I’d advise sending or giving them the letter to read. If not, I’d advise reading them the letter in person — this can help bring some more personhood to the moment.
Here is a template for writing a letter:
- Declaration of your identity, e.g.:
- “I’m transgender.”
- “I’m pansexual.”
- Definition of any terms you use, e.g.:
- “This means that I identify as male even though I was assigned female at birth.”
- “This means that I am interested in people regardless of their gender.”
- What you’d like the recipient to do with the information, e.g.:
- “Please call me these new pronouns and new name.”
- “I don’t need you to do anything with this information, you still can call me the same pronouns and name, I just wanted you to know because this is important to me.”
- Offer some understanding if that resonates with you, e.g.:
- “I know this might take a bit of time to understand and to change. It took me 18 years to figure this out and tell you so it makes sense that it might take you some time. That’s okay as long as you’re trying and being kind to me.”
- “You don’t have to understand everything. I’m just asking you to recognize and listen. Understanding might come with time but for now, you just have to love and support me.”
- More resources on pronouns here.
- If you want to, include some information or “evidence” if you will, about your transness. I offered my grandmother some memories from my childhood — me never liking “girly” things, me playing on the boys’ sports teams, me always having short hair and “dressing like a boy,” etc. Sometimes this can help show that this isn’t something you randomly came up with. If you don’t have this experience, that’s totally okay. You don’t have to have “always known.” Lots of trans people figure themselves out later and life and don’t show “evidence” that points to their transness early on. That’s totally valid and doesn’t make anyone less trans. You could say this, too.
- I always suggest adding a bit about why you are telling the recipient this, as it endears them and brings them into the conversation, e.g.:
- “I’m telling you this because I love and respect you.”
- “I’m telling you this because I want to have a good relationship with you and in order to do that I need to be called the right name and pronouns to feel both respected and safe with you.”
- “This is really important to me and I feel very vulnerable sharing this but I trust and care about you and want you to know.”
More coming out tips here!