SP: What’s the biggest trend you’re seeing when we’re talking about coming out?
The biggest trend that PFLAG is seeing though through our 350+ chapters across the country is more parents coming to PFLAG because their young child is trans, or is displaying or exhibiting behaviors that are considered gender non-conforming.
In fact, this is largest growth factor across our entire chapter network from our very urban areas like NYC, DC, LA and our more rural communities like Ames, and Omaha and Tampa.
And more adult people who are transgender are finding PFLAG as a place to build community and to build family.
SP: How is coming out different for a trans person than a gay or lesbian one?
Coming out as trans might feel like it was for us 25+ years ago. Very foreign and very scary, with few reference points as role models.
I even hear this within the LGBQ community that they have few if any personal contact with people who are trans.
I was just at the White House recently and saw Laverne Cox, who is a great role model for many people who are trans. Every time I see her, I thank her for putting herself out there as a role model for younger people.
SP: Speaking of people being younger to come out, what’s your advice on whether they should use social media services like Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
Coming out through social media undoubtedly feels “safer” to a young person who is finally able to express who s/he really is. But there are so many dangers in doing so that we advise young people to think through the potential consequences of sharing themselves in such a public way.
Social media is a great way to communicate, and we can use it to share very personal aspects of our lives. I have lots of nieces and nephews and I live far from them but I get to read about and see photos of their expanding families. Still, we advise much caution in coming out through social media given the reality of cyber bullying.
Today, people are coming out as LGBTQ at a much younger age. The context for their coming is very different, thanks to the many good changes that have been occurring.
However, the sad reality is that for every positive story we hear through PFLAG of a child’s coming to their family, we also hear the stories of rejection, the stories of bullying at school.
Young people are still running away from home, or worse, kicked out of their homes by their families, because they are trying to live honestly and authentically as LGBTQ.
So yes, it’s definitely easier than it was for you and for me, but there is still so much more work to be done to truly create a world where young people can be all that they are, and be loved and accepted and celebrated for who they are.