It was late in the night on 13 January 2016 and everyone in the house was asleep, except me.
My mind was buzzing, thoughts swirling in my head about everything the next day was due to bring. In just a couple of hours, I would turn 18. No longer a child, I could drink legally, vote and – most importantly to me – have complete autonomy over my life.
In the dark, hiding under the bed covers, I typed out a Facebook status and came out as transgender and non-binary to all of my friends.
I wish I had taken a deep breath, decided what’s done was done and went to sleep. Instead, I panicked.
I had only confided in one friend about my transness, I hadn’t even mentioned it to my parents, who would see the status while scrolling their news feed in the morning, and I was all too aware of the anti-trans rhetoric in the UK, and throughout the world.
So despite being on the brink of adulthood, I ran to my mum and woke her up, my breath short and eyes flooding with tears. Through sobs, I explained what I had done.
‘Well, that was a bit silly, wasn’t it?’ she replied.
Those words, her words still etched into my mind more than four years later, made me doubt everything. Was I trans? What if it was all ‘just a phase’? Was I even queer at all?
I know now that all of these identities are intrinsic to who I am and what I’ve always been but in that moment of panic, I wasn’t sure.
Looking back, I wish I could reassure myself. I knew the moment I pressed send that I had made the correct decision to be true to myself, but such a life changing event made me doubt everything I knew.
I wish those thoughts hadn’t crept into my mind. Perhaps, if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have run to my mum crying because I would have been more sure of myself. I have always been trans, I’m simply being open about it.
I never had the language to understand myself until I was 16, and it was another two years before I felt comfortable to come out, announce different pronouns and change my name.
I’m now a vocal and political queer person. I’m proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and I’m comfortable and happy as a non-binary person.
I discovered myself thanks to social media, so it seems almost serendipitous to have come out as trans on Facebook
But, like it or not, that Facebook status has become a defining part of my transness.
It was a spur of the moment decision I made, knowing that I would be an adult the following day, and I massively regret not speaking to my parents about my identity beforehand; I believe it is one of the major reasons they still don’t accept me as trans.
My parents and brother are the only people who still use female pronouns for me and who still use my birth name.
Every time I see the news; Liz Truss’ regressive bill propositions, JK Rowling’s anti-trans views, the murder of black trans women; or every time someone misgenders me, every time my brother insists transness isn’t real, I’m 17, sat on my mum’s bed, her telling me that coming out was ‘silly’.
On the other hand, the reactions from my friends – both those who saw the status, the ones that heard through others – was almost exclusively positive. This is something I put down to the fact that people my age were the first to have constant access to the internet as a teenager.
I discovered myself thanks to social media, so it seems almost serendipitous to have come out as trans on Facebook.
By 2016, I had been using social media constantly for around half a decade. I learnt about sexual health on YouTube, learnt about LGBTQ+ identities on Tumblr, and saw openly queer people on Twitter.
Now, I see teenagers come out to parents through the latest queer trends on TikTok, and post selfies on Instagram proudly announcing their sexuality and gender.
I am so jealous of them, that they feel they can come out so openly and freely to all of their followers, not just a select group of Facebook friends.
But coming out on social media is not the end. I came out once on social media, but I come out constantly to people in real life.
I say I came out in a Facebook status, but being queer is a constant – as is coming out.
I wish I had known that. And I wish my parents accepted my transness. And, after all that, I wish I had just spoken to my family.
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