Outing a Transgender Person Is Risky Business
The cisgender world that we live in is a frightening place for most transgender people. Some areas of our country are more frightening than others; however, there are pockets of ignorance everywhere. It is unfortunate that in the year 2017 transgender folks are still fighting for basic human rights. Many are still facing challenges such as housing, finding and keeping a good job, and getting access to medical care. Most LGBTQ organizations have very little to offer to the T part of the community, and a majority of the time transgender folks are out there trying to navigate their transition on their own. And, with the political climate being what it is today, it is no wonder that the suicide rate for this group is so high.
Today the LGBTQ+ community celebrates “National Coming Out Day.” Some people plan for months the way in which they want to come out to their family and their closest friends. There is a sense of accomplishment and strength that comes along with being ready to reveal yourself for the first time. Not to mention anxiety and the fear of being rejected by the people you care about the most. For others they will spend the day feeling the sadness that living in the closet brings. For one reason or another they are not yet comfortable with the idea of coming out. They might feel that acceptance will never come or they may fear violence might befall them.
“YOU COULD BE PUTTING THE LIFE OF THAT TRANSGENDER PERSON IN GREAT DANGER WITHOUT THEM EVEN KNOWING.”
So today I will implore you from one cisgender person to another, do not out a transgender person to anyone. It is not your news to share or your life to live. It is not your truth or journey forward. In some cases, it is simply unsafe. You never know how someone will react to that kind of news. You never know if the person that you are sharing this information with is prone to bigotry or violence. You don’t know whom else they might tell. You could be putting the life of that transgender person in great danger without them even knowing. If someone has come out to you as transgender in confidence that means that they trust you, and only you, so be respectful.
In some instances, a transgender person will give you their consent to speak about them being transgender to others. If that is the case, then I hope you use your best judgment before doing so. Transgender people are being murdered all around the world simply for being who they are. There is more ignorance in the world than education, and people with no tolerance for others who are not like them. It is not fair that my children live in fear. It is not fair that every time my wife walks out the front door they worry that she will not return. That is a horrible thing for anybody to think about, but even worse when it is happening to a child.
My hope is that with more transgender visibility will come more acceptance of transgender folks. If you wish to help someone understand what it means to be transgender, do so without outing the people you may know. After all, education is power. Be present in the world, be your authentic self, and be the amazing human that you are. Remember that each person has their own story and it is their right to share it if they want to, in the manner they wish to, and to whom they wish to include. Outing someone else without their knowledge is unacceptable.