Talking to other people
Questioning your gender, or realising that you identify as transgender, is a lot to think about on your own. We all need other people at times, to help us think through things, problem solve or simply to help soothe us if we are feeling upset. However, lots of people are worried about talking to other people for a number of reasons. For example, it can feel really overwhelming putting your feelings into words for the first time, you might not know who to talk to, or you fear that someone could tell other people when you are not ready for this.
Have a think about who is around you that you can trust to listen to you and be kind. This could be a friend initially, a parent or someone else close to you. If there is no one at the moment, are there any counselling services at your school or locally that you could go to? Some people speak to their GP who can give them advise on support that is available to them locally.
If you are not ready to talk to someone face to face, and for some people this takes more time than others, there are a number of online organisations that might be able to help.
If you are struggling with coping then you might benefit from talking to a professional training to support your mental health. See: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Who should I tell that I am questioning my gender?
I haven’t told anyone yet
Who to tell is a decision for each individual and it may change at various points along the process of understanding our gender identity. It might be scary to tell anyone at all in the beginning and finding the right words to use can be quite stressful for some. But keeping it to ourselves for too long might create problems in the future such as becoming socially isolated or worrying about what others might be thinking of us. Sharing the first time is often the hardest. Some people confide in a close friend who they think won’t judge them. Others tell a parent/carer first. Some tell a teacher, teaching assistant or counsellor. Others find sharing with people they meet on social media sites a good way to practice finding the right words.
I have told only my closest friends
Getting support from close friends is really important. Getting support from parents and family is too. We know that young people who have the support of their family as they explore and express their gender identity have better outcomes. Rejection by parent/carer/s and families is rare although they may need some time to get their heads around something that you may have been thinking about for quite a while.
Talking to people online
Talking to online friends can be a great way to practice talking about or expressing our gender identities, whatever they might be. Many young people use online groups or forums as a place to practice asking questions, using names or pronouns, or sharing feelings that they don’t yet feel comfortable talking about face to face.
I have only told my parent/carer/s
Telling your parent/carer/s first can be an easier step for some than telling close friends. Most parent/carer/s want to be supportive and continue to want to protect their child from pain and distress. Parent/carer/s may still be struggling how to best do that following the disclosure.
What happens if my friends don’t understand/accept me?
We do know that some people who have never questioned their own identity don’t understand what it is like to do so. In our experience, though, whilst it does occasionally happen, the fear of friends not understanding or accepting is often not borne out in experience. Many people can be accepting and supportive even if they don’t fully understand your experiences.
Some young people we work with can also find that, as we discover new things about our identity our attitudes to ourselves and others can change. So it is not uncommon for young people to find new friends along their path of exploring identities.