I first came out as panromantic (attracted to the person and not gender) when I was about 16, only to my nearest and dearest as the school I went to was very conservative and I did not feel comfortable being out in that environment.
I was very fortunate to have support from my parents, especially as my mum is a member of the LGBT community herself. Admittedly I was still nervous, but luckily faced no problems at home. I only really faced trouble from the youth group I attended once a week. It was at that point I fell out of being a Christian as the vicar who ran the group was unfortunately misguided and used religion to be homophobic.
The bigger problem I faced was coming out as trans, specifically non-binary (not identifying as male or female) when I was 20 years old. I had felt for a long time that I didn’t fit in with the gender I was assigned at birth but I didn’t have an answer to what did suit me. I wondered for a while if I was supposed to be a boy, except that wasn’t right either. However when I find out about non-binary genders online it finally clicked.
It was a difficult experience, especially as I was suffering heavily with depression at the time.
A majority of people had not heard of non-binary, which meant coming out also meant educating people at the same time. Granted not everyone understood and even now people are still unaware that gender other than male and female exist. I then changed my name to something gender neutral which was probably the hardest part of coming out, although easier for people to understand than my gender! It was a difficult time yet I do not regret it.
Despite coming out over 4 years ago, I am mis-gendered on a daily basis, be it by people I know or out in public. Pair that with being assumed straight you end up coming out all the time! Although admittedly I lack the confidence to correct people most of the time. Even now I am not out at work, however as you can tell I am aiming to change that!
It can be frustrating and disheartening, especially as someone who surrounds themselves with people who are accepting and aware of a whole manner of LGBT+ identities to find so many people who are uninformed. Non-binary genders are currently recognised by the NHS although unfortunately not by most businesses/ organisations, including the council. I did bring light to this issue when I first started in March 2018 and am now making progress, which is exciting.
I find that generally that people use a lot of heteronormative language and use gendered expressions a lot (like “ladies”), ideally I’d like to see more of what I see amongst friends where nobody assumes an individual’s sexuality or gender, it is safer to use neutral terms such as “they/ them” for pronouns and “partner” rather than boyfriend or girlfriend until you know their preference.
I wish I had come out sooner, as I see a lot of young (younger…I’m only 24 myself) people now who are living their truth every day and it makes me so happy to see. However I do strive to be more open about who I am, hence me sharing my story now.