How to Come Out as Genderfluid
A person's gender is something personal and individuals should be allowed to express themselves in whatever healthy way they see fit. Unfortunately, it is also a complicated and nuanced issue which can lead to misunderstanding. As many people remain uninformed about gender issues, coming out as genderfluid might prove difficult. Misinformation and individual prejudices can mean some will either not understand what the concept of being genderfluid means or even reject its validity. Knowing how to come out as genderfluid can be difficult, but oneHOWTO is here to provide consideration if you want to take this next step as it requires different contextual understanding.
Why should you come out as genderfluid?
Before you think about how to come out as genderfluid, you will need to consider what being genderfluid means in a social context and what it means to you. If you have not done so, take a look at our article for an introduction to the subject. As a very short definition, genderfluid is someone who does not ascribe to a binary idea of female and male gender, rather their gender identity changes in a given circumstance. This means they can sometimes feel like they fit in to one gender, both genders or neither.
If you have done your research about other possible gender identities you may feel represent you, then you may consider coming out as genderfluid. Identifying in this way can provide a sense of self-actualization and may help put your feelings into perspective. It may provide a freedom from anxiety, fear or confusion which has troubled you. Many people talk of how liberating finding their own gender identity can be. It can provide a sense of freedom from the constricting feelings of binary gender identification (i.e. seeing gender solely in terms or masculine or feminine).
After you feel these feelings of personal acceptance, you may find that there is another reason for anxiety - that your family and friends don't know something important about you. We want to share things with people we love, so it can seem like you are being secretive when you don't share feelings about your gender.
Another reason for anxiety is that your family and friends may already have noticed changes in you. Whether or not they are able to express that they have noticed these things is a different matter, but it could be putting distance in your relationships. This can lead to practical and emotional problems in the group of people you rely on for support and community. You may also be starting to express your gender fluidity in your demeanor and appearance. If your family or friends aren't given the opportunity to understand what you are going through, then you may feel shame or a compulsion to hide your behavior. This can lead to repression and depression.
While transgender and genderfluid are not the same thing, they are linked. A recent study showed that while depression affects 16.6% of the total population of the USA, rates of depression in transgender individuals is anywhere between 48% to 62% (Budge, S.L. and Adelson, J.L, Anxiety and Depression in Transgender Individuals: 2013). If gender identity issues can exacerbate depression in this way, coming out as genderfluid to friends and family can help build support and lessen the damaging effects they may have on your mental health.
Do you need to come out as genderfluid?
As your gender identity is a personal issue, some may feel that coming out is not the right course of action for them. One reason may be that even though you feel you may be genderfluid, you may not be certain and coming out might not be beneficial in the long run. One of the benefits of being genderfluid is to lessen the pressure of "being certain". Knowing that you can change between genders or step outside of them might be what you need to allay certain anxieties. This might be enough for you and many people will not feel the need to explain themselves to other people, even to their friends and family. However, if you are experiencing anxiety or negative feelings because of your gender identity, you should consider your options.
Another reason you may have hesitations coming out as genderfluid is because of the reactions you might get from your friends and family. While we often think that people will react in a way which is worse than actuality, there are valid concerns. If you come from a culture which is generally or specifically unaccepting of non-binary gender identities, then problems can arise. This culture may be a religious one, a personal issue related to your parents, a social context or even the country in which you live.
Although you may feel anxiety or even suffer mental health issues because you keep your identity to yourself, opening up about them may have other consequences. In some Middle Eastern countries, human rights movements are denied the right to exist. This encompasses, but is not limited to the LGBT+ community. Some may even criminalize membership of these communities. Even in countries where human rights are legally recognized, there still may be social exclusion or persecution.
There is an inherent difficulty here as keeping your identity quiet can stop progressive attitudes being accepted, while coming out can lead to painful circumstances. There are many activists working to help people in this situation all over the world. It is not just traditionally conservative countries where this is a concern. You will have to assess your individual social and cultural circumstance if you want to come out as genderfluid. On a personal level, this will extend to your family and friend group. If you think there may be a risk of persecution or exclusion, you may need to weigh up the value of coming out to this group.
Asking the question of do you need to come out as genderfluid is not meant to dissuade you from doing so, but only to consider whether or not doing so is a pragmatic course of action.
Do your research and look for allies
If you want to come out as genderfluid, one of the most important things you can do is research. Find out what genderfluid, genderqueer or similar LGBT+ communities are saying on the internet (although you may need to ne careful with shared networks and browsing history). Many will have helpful answers to questions posted by people in a similar position.
There may be culture specific questions you need to ask or information you have not previously considered. Sometimes the difference between coming out as genderfluid and not doing so is down to encouragement. There are many organisations, such as GLAAD in the USA or The Gender Trust in the UK, which can provide information to help individuals struggling with their identity.
Searching out allies who will support you in getting to grips with your gender identity is important. They don't have to be genderfluid or even part of the LGBT+ community to do so. They can just be a supportive friend or confidant who is able to help talk through your issues. The reason why many people struggle to come to terms with their gender identity is because they are unable to express themselves or feel alone.
Coming out is a process
Remember than coming out as genderfluid is a process. You may be someone who feels that they only want their partners to know about their gender identity or they may want to encourage dialogue about surrounding issues by being out as genderfluid. You may feel genderfluid at some point and then later in life feel differently. It is important to remember than this is OK and that your gender identity is personal.
Some people might come out to a limited social media group and then progressively expand this group to include other people in their lives. If coming out as genderfluid is important to you, it may be that you tell people one at a time and slowly build up support. It is unique to you and the decision to act upon your feelings is something which can only be made by you. It doesn't mean you don't have people ready to support you or people you can talk to.
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