Double-Edged Sword: Coming Out

Sandy Sahar Gooen
3 min readOct 8, 2023

CONTENT WARNING for Transphobia/Homophobia/Biphobia/Violence including SA. I’m setting a boundary by sharing this: I’m allowed to decline to talk about these things further if prompted (I can’t control what you all say, only how I respond).

Besides Tuesday being Coming Out Day, here’s my inspo to write this:

Recently, I had a little comment section discourse (positive!) with one Aidan Wharton (who played one of the meanest, shallowest people in the Fire Island movie but is one of the sweetest, most reflective people in real life/ online). And he is so beautifully thoughtful, follow Gay Buffet, his Substack.

The crux of that convo was. Not everyone can come out. Not everyone has to come out. There is a mixture of vulnerability and safety/opportunity in nearly every variation and level of outness, including being stealth or closeted. And most people will likely be at different levels of outness in different environments.

No matter your reason for coming out or not, it’s valid, especially if you are concerned about safety. (Sometimes coming out is safer!)

So, I’m trans. I’m queer. I don’t always disclose those things. There are other things I’m not disclosing here; there are things I disclose sometimes and not others.

Coming out should be as big or as little a deal as someone wants, something as public or private as someone wants, and should happen when a person is ready.

Within the LGBT community (still unsure if I can say that exists), there is even variation in acceptance in coming out to each other. Bisexual people are subjected to stigma from all sides. Trans people and non-trans gay people… that’s a can of worms.

Trans people throughout our transition have to come out in a variety of directions. Disclosing our trans status can look like:

especially early transition: hi, new name and/or pronouns…

especially for nonbinary people: explaining being nonbinary!

especially for people who are assumed to be a cis person of their gender (so a trans woman who is assumed to be a cis woman/trans man assumed to be a cis man): explaining that yes, they are that gender, AND they are trans.

I have found myself in that latter situation more and more recently… I don’t know that I think of myself as “passing,” but sometimes I either am or am in a space of being “clocked” but still read as a man.

I have had several months of distance, and now feel empowered to talk about an experience from this summer. We all have big T and little t traumas, of varying things, but this summer, I’m still unsure where this falls.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a lot of spaces that are “gay men”’s spaces. Anyone who knows me knows that Fire Island is one of those spaces.

Long story short, on Fire Island, I had people pressuring me to disclose my trans status by violating my personal space, asking me rude and invasive questions, and grabbing my crotch. Other things happened that day of varying transphobic behavior, but this is the important detail. There are such better ways to have that conversation. Sharing pronouns and/or asking politely, “do you mind if I ask, are you trans?” is not perfect… I promise, it is better than sexual violence. Most things are better than violence.

Not all situations of coming out are extreme. Some are as casual as “oh, I am bi, actually”

Some are as special as, “so, I’m a lesbian, this is my girlfriend, I wanted you to meet her”

But all belong on a person’s terms.

Sometimes coming out changes things. Sometimes it doesn’t.

But. Consent. Is. Key.

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