Don’t project onto others how you think they will react

As I began my first steps towards transitioning, I was apprehensive about telling certain people in my life.  I would put it off and I would “boy up” for them.  My clothing choices would be less femme.  I would wear only light, “gender conforming” makeup.  I would remove my beautiful wigs before seeing family, colleagues, and certain friends and replace them with a ball cap.  Small but noticeable breast development (yay) had to be covered up with loose fitting shirts.  It was physically and psychologically exhausting to have to continuously adjust my presentation and how I interacted. 

I contemplated just quietly fading from some people’s lives so I wouldn’t have to face what I thought would be a negative reaction.  Primarily conservative and religious friends.  But I thought about how I would feel if I had a friend that was transitioning, and they just left my life.  I realized that I would be upset if they took that decision away from me.  That I would feel betrayed if a friend made that decision for me and disappeared from my life without talking to me.

Most of my friends were immediately supportive.  Indeed, many had a “what took you so long” attitude :).  I had been nurturing relationships with friends that were kind and caring and who I knew would celebrate me finally expressing who I am without reservation.  But I had a few friends that I was truly reticent about revealing my gender identity to.  When I finally came out to them, they were more supportive than I expected and I realized that I had projected how *I* thought they would feel and react on to them, instead of letting them be the authors of their own feelings and reactions.

I have had no one reject me outright so far, but some relationships have not been tested yet simply because I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with them in my authentic gender role.  My bigger concern is that someone that I care about will be supportive and won’t actively cut me out, but that there will be a subtle pulling away.  Maybe they aren’t as available to me, our phone calls turn into texts or emails, I don’t get invited to certain things.  Having someone outright reject me would be relatively easy – “ok done, they must not have been a friend in the first place”.  But to have the relationships that I value trail off… that would be hard.  I understand the argument, “then they must not truly have been a friend.”  But I think that’s too simplistic.  At any rate, it will be what it will be, because I have to stay true to myself.

The message that I hope you will take away from this is to not project onto others what you *think* their reaction will be.  Pay the people in your life the respect of letting them make their own choices vis-à-vis your place in their life.  When someone says that it is ok, that they are supportive and that your relationship will not be impacted, pay them the respect of believing them, unless they show you differently through their actions.  You owe that to the people in your life that you care about :).

Much love <3


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