How to Support Someone Who’s Trans and Just Came Out to You

This guide provides ways to respond (and how not to respond) when someone comes out to you as transgender.

April 3, 2018

Ways to Respond When Someone Comes Out to You as Transgender, Nonbinary, or Gender-Expansive

  • Congratulate the person. Say “mazal tov!” This is a big step towards living a more authentic life.
  • Thank them for sharing and for trusting you enough to share.
  • Center the needs of the person coming out to you. Ask how you can support them. For example: “Do you have a different name or pronouns you’d like me to use?”
  • Use the updated names and/or pronouns that the person shares with you.
  • Check in about how they’re feeling, whether that’s anxious, nervous, fearful, joyous, excited, or elated. Don’t make assumptions, and give them the space to share their emotions with you.
  • Clarify how and if they’d like you to share this information. Ask the person if they would like you to refer to them with their name and pronouns to others, or if this information is private. Outing someone without their permission can be dangerous, so find out if this information is confidential.
  • Ask if they’d like you to correct others when they use an incorrect name or pronoun. Some appreciate the correction, and others may not want you to.
  • Practice! Using a person’s correct name and pronouns can make a world of difference, but it can take time to make the adjustment. Practice on your own (or, if the information is public, with others) so that you make fewer mistakes with that person present, and so that you can model correct language. See Keshet’s resource for information about all-gender pronouns.
  • Remember that they are still the person you knew before. Don’t make all subsequent conversations/interactions about their coming out. A human has other things to talk about!

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