Like the morning after a storm, it's always nerve wracking to see what happens next after you come out to someone. This can be a best friend, a family member, your significant other, or your human resources department. Most of the time we come out there is an element of shock and like anything that sort of comes out of nowhere, it takes a little time for the person we come out to to reassess and process this revelation.
Of course, this period of time is agonizing for us. The relationship has changed, the dynamic between you and this person will forever be altered. It's impossible to ignore someone coming out to you, even if it's never discussed again. The first person I came out to was a girlfriend when I was 21. It was not an easy conversation for either of us and after I came out she, quite frankly, never wanted to discuss it ever again. But I did. I wanted to, I needed to talk about this side of myself. I had kept this part of me a secret, the most sacred secret I had, for my entire life. It was a relief to come out to someone, especially someone I was in a serious relationship with. I had held back the floodwaters for years and the dam broke.
But she was not at a point in her life, we were not at a point in our relationship, for this revelation. There's rarely a perfect time to come out, but there are a lot of wrong times to come out. In retrospect I should have come out before we moved in with each other. Accepting your partner's crossdressing or gender identity is, well, it's a lot to ask. It's probably a deal-breaker for some. And it's probably a deal-breaker for ourselves, too. Most of us get to a point in our lives (and our journey) when we acknowledge that this side of us is who we are. It's not a phase, it's not something we will grow out of. I need to acknowledge and express my femme identity. I need Hannah in my life. She IS my life. If we are non-binary and we want to be in a relationship, then we likely need to be in a relationship with someone who can accept this side of us. They may not understand, but that's not necessarily the same thing as accepting that our gender identity is more... ah, interesting than most people.
We want the people in our lives to accept us as we are, regardless of our gender identity. We want to be loved, we want to be accepted. When we come out to someone there is sometimes a secret wish we keep in our hearts as to how they will react. My wish for when I came out to my girlfriend was that she would drive me to the mall and pick out some lingerie or a pretty dress and she would teach me makeup. I had hoped that she would be accepting and thrilled about her boyfriend coming out as a crossdresser. Of course that was incredibly naive and silly. That's not to say that trips to the mall never happen when we come out, but it's pretty rare. But as nice as it would have been to be able to dress how I wanted, to dress how I felt with her, what pained me the most was having a side of me, the deepest, most intimate part of who I am, become a topic that was, essentially, off-limits when it came to conversation. For months I would casually drop into the conversation my crossdressing but the topic was always changed. Eventually I just gave up.
In retrospect I should have stopped bringing it up altogether. When someone clearly doesn't want to discuss... well, anything, it's not fair to keep talking about it. I should have respected her signals that this was not something she wanted to talk about. And in the interest of being fair, we were both young and this was a long time ago. The complexities and nuances of gender were not as well-known as they are today. I don't talk with her very often these days but I know that she has become a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ community. I have grown as a person, and so has she.
As I mentioned, sometimes when we come out the result is better than we could have imagined. I don't need to offer any perspective when this happens beyond taking it slow. The Pink Fog can easily take over and can push you, and the person you come out to, to a place or a situation faster than either of you may be prepared for. This revelation is a huge step for you, but it also moves the person you come out to to new, unfamiliar territory. So what happens when things don't go how we had hoped?
People need people, it's as simple as that. We need friends, we need people to love and to care about, and we need the same thing from others. People like us need people like us. We need to have people in our lives that get us, that understand us, that have walked a mile in our stilettos. If we can't get the support we need from the people we have come out to, then we need to find that support elsewhere. BUT! You can also have both. My wife doesn't understand this side of me (and to be fair I don't either) but she understands that I have a second gender identity, that Hannah isn't going away. I have her support, but I also have t-girl friends.
One of the most common questions I get on my website is where can someone meet a t-girl? Most of these questions come from chasers, men who are attracted to girls like us but I'm not talking about them. But if you are a t-girl and you are looking to make friends and find support, there's a few places you can turn to.
The first option I direct girls to is finding a support group. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) have support groups all over the country. Most of these groups hold meetings and then break into smaller support groups which includes people who are transgender. These are wonderful opportunities to listen to other girls like us, and to talk about ourselves. I am not as qualified as the people who lead a support group so I encourage you to seek out PFLAG or other transgender support groups. Google is our friend in all this so searching for "(city name) + transgender support groups" is your first step. Gender therapists and counselors who specialize in gender are also a wonderful resource. Again, Google is your friend in this.
As long as we're talking about the internet, there are a lot of support groups and forums online. Crossdressers.com is probably the biggest, and best maintained site out there. It is primarily a forum with different topics ranging from makeup advice to people looking for friends. The first time I went out at night was to meet a friend I met on that website. There are discussions on crossdressers.com where you can introduce yourself and make friends with other t-girls in your area. I connected with another t-girl and made plans to meet up. If it wasn't for her waiting for me I don't know if I would have found the courage to leave my car that evening. She's still my friend to this day. Also, crossdresserheaven.com, transgenderheaven.com, and transreufge.org maintains forums and resources available to our communities.
Of course it probably doesn't need to be said, but please consider your personal safety before meeting someone online. Meet in a public place, never go to someone's home, never invite someone over, never meet someone at a hotel. I know we can get lonely and anxious to meet others, but don't let the Pink Fog cloud your judgement and compromise your own safety.
The thing to remember is that you are not alone in your gender identity. No matter where you are on your journey there is someone else at the same point you are, and there are countless others who have been where you are today. That being said, with a little effort you can find support from someone like you. And if you can't? Start a group. I'm serious.
When I first started going out en femme I attended a wonderful support group in Minnesota with a lot of lovely t-girls. The group, however, wasn't the group for me. The group was mainly transpeople who had, or were in the process of transitioning. The meetings primarily centered around discussions about hormones, therapy, and surgery. For most of the girls in the group, this was a lifesaver for them. Excellent resources and supportive friends. As someone who didn't (and still doesn't) plan on living full time I didn't find most of the meetings relevant or relatable. I had joined the group to meet others like me, others who were looking for more social events as opposed to a traditional support group. So, I started a group called the MN T-Girls.
I could write a LOT about how I started the group and what I learned from running it, but the basic version is that I had been blogging on my website for a couple of years and had a bit of a following. One day I announced I wanted to start a social/support group for girls like us. The group would center more on social outings as opposed to a traditional support group. I wanted to meet girls like me and I wanted to make friends to go shopping with, to go to dinner with... to experience the world en femme. T-girls and crossdressers and feminine presenting people all over my state (and beyond) signed up for the group. The group meets once a month and we go to plays, visit museums, shop, attend makeup lessons... we've been going strong for almost ten years and have almost 300 members. Of course, the group is a HUGE commitment and undertaking. But I think the group is important and provides girls like us with friends and support. I know how crucial it is to have friends like us and I would hate to deny anyone that.
It's... disheartening, to say the least, when we have to seek out support, when we have to make a huge effort to do so, when the ones we need the most support from reject us. Although I am an adult I still need my mom, and unfortunately my gender identity is more or less off the table when it comes to conversations she is comfortable with. It's hard when someone you love basically rejects a side of you, especially when Hannah is literally my other half. Instead of continuing to press it, I had to simply learn to drop it and make peace with her decision. And I mean, let's face it, it's a decision on her part. Instead I needed to find support and acceptance elsewhere. The moms at Pride Festivals who offer "Free Mom Hugs" can help, but it's not the same.
The point in all of this is to find the support you need. It's out there. I promise.