No, It’s Not Okay to “out” Me!
Dear supportive allies in my life,
I want to thank you for being supportive throughout my transition. I don’t think I could’ve made it through these past few years without your help. You all provided me with love, patience, hugs, words of encouragement, and many other things.
However, that does not mean in any way, shape, or form, that you have a free ticket to “out” me. Ever.
You might think that outing a trans or non-binary person is only bad when someone does it with malicious intent and wants to hurt said person or see them be hurt. While that is never a good situation, outing a loved one can be just as bad. No, on second thought, it is just as bad!
You’re likely confused at this point and wondering why that could be just as bad. Even though you may mean no harm, you’re still breaking my trust in you. Will you feel it’s your place to talk freely about anything else about me?
Along with that, you are robbing me of control over who knows what about me. Maybe I don’t want to be out to certain people. Maybe I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose my identity here. Maybe I’m not ready to out myself right now. No matter the reason, it’s my choice and my choice alone whether or not to mention that I am transgender.
When you do something like introduce me as your “trans friend,” or talk to someone you just met about how much you love your “transgender son,” is that all I am to you? Just the transgender person in your life? It can also sound like you’re trying to make yourself look good by saying, “Oh look how supportive of different people I am! Look how accepting I am!” I know you might not be thinking that way or mean to come off in either of those ways, but a person is more than their gender. If I am your friend, introduce me as just that.
Most importantly, let’s talk about how you could be putting me in danger. Maybe this random person is secretly very transphobic. Maybe they’ll start spewing hateful things at me. Maybe they’ll find ways to harass me as much as they can. Maybe they’ll track me down and try to hurt or kill me. What if that person decides to go after you as well for associating with and supporting me? Keep in mind not all people are as accepting as you are of anyone who isn’t cisgender. It might be hard to picture hateful people still exist when you’re living inside our circle of support, but for us in the community, it’s a constant thing to be on the alert for. Being outed by someone with malicious intent is bad enough, but to be put in a potential line of fire by someone you love is some extra salt in the wound.
I know you’re just trying to continue to be an ally, and while I appreciate that, no amount of support will ever give you a position to out me. Please stop.