When someone comes out as transgender, know that this was not an easy decision and the person is about to embark on a long and arduous journey. As a friend or relative, knowing exactly what to say when someone comes out as transgender can go a long way in easing their mind and showing your support.
With that being said, figuring out what to say isn’t always easy. There are definitely right and wrong things you can say when someone comes out as transgender, and you need to be careful not to come off in the wrong way.
What you say should be sincere, and should make the person know that he/she is not alone and will always have your support. In figuring out what to say, ensure you let the person know that you are not disappointed, and you respect their decision to come out and feel proud that he/she was brave enough to do so.
Here are 20 ideas of what to say when someone comes out as transgender, and even better, a few ways you can show support without words:
10 words of encouragement for letting them know you are proud of who they are
One of the biggest fears many trans people have is the disappointment they will feel from their friends and family members, in particular, their parents. No one wants to be a let-down, especially when outsiders may judge them based on the decision they make to come out.
Having a network of people who respect their decision and feel proud of who they are is empowering, and helps to make the journey a little less difficult.
Here are 10 words of encouragement or ideas of what to say when someone comes out as transgender to show respect and pride:
01“Congratulations! Many people search to find their true selves and that can take them half their lives. I’m so happy you’re able to connect with who you really are and live your life authentically.”
Coming out as trans is a good thing, compared to being miserable and living a life that does not feel true to oneself. Congratulating your friend/relative will show that you respect the decision made and feel happy that he/she can be who he/she truly is.
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02“You love who you are and I love who you are. That’s all that matters, and that’s all that ever will.”
These words show that nothing has changed in terms of how you feel about him/her and that you are okay with the decision that he/she has made.
03“Nice! I always wanted a brother/sister/son/daughter/niece/nephew. Have you picked a name yet?”
This shows that you are excited for the journey that he/she is about to embark on and are fully on board with the whole concept of changing genders. It’s a light-hearted response you can use when there’s a bit of crying or you notice he/she is extremely nervous or anxious.
04“Living life out loud and as your true self takes a lot of balls. You’ve already proven yourself a man to me.”
This is good to use for a female-to-male transgender person who is having difficulty establishing himself as a man. It shows that you respect what he was able to do and feel a great sense of pride.
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05“The best part about this will be watching you become more and more of who you really are.”
This is an idea of what to say when someone comes out as transgender and you want to show that you are on board with the decision being made, meaning you respect or support it and that you are excited about this transition as much as your friend/relative.
06“I admire your bravery and conviction. I’m so glad we’re friends. I can learn a lot from you.”
These words of encouragement are beaming with pride and are good to use when your friend is down in a rut for coming out as trans. It reminds him/her that this mission is not one he/she will have to tackle alone.
07“Well, duh. I’m not really surprised, I’m just happy you finally told me.”
Use this when a close relative/friend comes out to you and you’ve had suspicions all along. This shows that you have been okay with it all this time.
08“Who else knows? This is great news. I’m so happy you’ve decided to live your truth.”
This is an idea of what to say when someone comes out as transgender to show that you have no problems with him/her coming out as trans and support the decision to come out to everyone.
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09“You’re amazing! I’m glad you’ll be able to be yourself around me.”
Use this to show that you are in support of his/her decision to come out as trans and that you are glad to finally meet the real him/her.
10“That’s wassup. Congrats!”
That’s wassup” is an alternative form of “That’s what’s up.” It means “This is excellent; this is cool”. This is a good response to use when you aren’t very close with the person but want to show that you are cool with the decision.
10 words of encouragement for letting them know you support them and you are here for them whenever they need your help
Making the decision to come out as trans and actually undergo procedures and processes to help with their identity is a big deal and a huge mental strain. Your trans friend/relative will need all the support he/she can get and some words of encouragement letting him/her know you are there for them is really helpful.
Here are 10 ideas of what to say when someone comes out as transgender and you wish to show your unwavering support:
11“Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me. Do you have any pronouns you’d like me to use, are you going to change your name, how does this work?”
This response shows that you are glad that he/she considers you trustworthy enough to come out to. It also says that you are fully on board and will do whatever it takes to make the process easier for him/her.
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12“Well, I’ll be here for you every step of the way, for all the laughs, cries, and everything in between. I love you [insert name of person here]”
This is a good example of what to say when someone comes out as transgender and they are worried about how others will react or about the tough journey ahead. He/she will find comfort in your supportive words.
13“Transitioning isn’t going to be easy, but when the goal is happiness, it’s all worth it. You can count on me to help you in whatever way I can. I want to see you happy.”
Use this when you’ve witnessed another person transitioning so you can speak from experience on its difficulty and its result.
14“I know you must be going through a lot right now. Know that I’ll be here for you in whatever way you need. I’m only a call or text away.”
It is good to use this because it acknowledges that coming out and transitioning is hard. It is also good to use because you are offering continued support throughout this journey.
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15“Even if your family doesn’t support you, you have friends who love you just the way you are and will always have your back.”
Use this if your friend/relative has been rejected by his/her family or fears rejection. It lets him/her know that there is support regardless.
16“Good for you! You know I’ve got your back!”
These simple words can go a long way for a co-worker or classmate who has just come out as transgender to everyone. There will be people who may not agree with the decision so it certainly helps to know that there are people who are on his/her side.
17“Wow, that’s exciting! So, what’s next for you?”
It is good to use this when you are genuinely interested in helping him/her on his/her journey and wish to offer help and support throughout.
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18“This is the best news I’ve gotten all year! Do you wanna go shoe shopping?”
While we don’t usually encourage people to make these things about them, this type of response just shows that you are happy for the news and support the decision. It also shows that you are ready to be a part of her new life and will help her on her journey to becoming a woman, which includes doing things like shopping!
19“Congratulations! Please let me know how I can properly support you because I’m with you all the way!”
If you are blindsided by this and have no knowledge on how to deal with a person who is transitioning, sometimes what he/she says is better than what you can research on your own. This type of response shows that you are willing to relearn how to be a good friend/relative to this person.
20“This doesn’t change how I feel about you. In fact, I love and respect you even more for being so brave!”
Another fear many people have when coming out as trans is people seeing them differently. This reassures him/her that there’s nothing to worry about and that it’s all love and support.
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What to say when someone comes out as transgender: How to support them without words
Using encouraging messages is one way to show support to someone who comes out as transgender. However, there are other tips to bear in mind regarding your behavior that go hand-in-hand with what you have said.
Here are some examples:
01Listen without judgment or interruption
The LGBTQIA+ community is a minority in most societies, and transgenders, in particular, have a hard time. As a friend/relative, your job is to listen without judgment or interruption and to show support.
Something as simple as “I’m here for you” can go a really long way for someone who was afraid of how people would react or was dealing with self-esteem issues.
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02Don’t out him/her to others
It is not your right to share one’s sexual orientation or gender identity with another person. Unless you are given explicit permission to share with others that your friend/relative is trans, don’t go blabbering to anyone about it.
Perhaps he/she is only comfortable with just a few people knowing and isn’t ready to reveal it to the world. Respect that decision.
03Respect their pronouns and name
If you are not told about their new name or pronouns right away, be sure to ask. Try as best as possible to remember that this person you’ve known your entire life has a new identity.
It might take some getting used to and you might slip up and refer to her as him, or use a dead name by mistake, but once you apologize and stick to it, he/she should understand and move past it. This is a transition for everyone and mistakes are to be expected.
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04Be patient with them, and don’t judge their decisions
While you may never know what it is like to be in the shoes of a transgender person, you should understand how difficult and tumultuous of a time this can be. Be patient with your friend/relative during this time, and don’t be judgemental of the decisions he/she makes.
A huge part of transitioning is experimenting to figure out what fits his/her new identity. You may not necessarily agree with certain actions, but remember that this is not your life to live.
Instead, offer your support and be the best friend/relative you can be.
05Understand the spectrum of gender identity and expression
There has been more awareness of gender identity and expression over the years so it is your duty to understand its spectrum in order to relate and properly communicate with your transgender friend/relative.
06Educate yourself on transgender issues
Don’t wait for your friend/relative to tell you everything there is about being transgender. Take some initiative and do your own research.
You don’t want to overwhelm him/her with questions, especially during all this stress. Taking the initiative will also show how supportive you are.
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07Remember he/she is still the same person
Don’t start acting weird because your friend/relative came out to you. He/she is still the same person as a year ago or even yesterday.
Furthermore, don’t make being transgender the only topic of conversation going forward, and don’t push it if he/she doesn’t want to discuss it. He/she is still a person outside of that label.
08Know that this isn’t about you
This is not about you or your feelings, so cast them to the side when approaching your friend/relative.
While you may not understand the decision, it’s not yours to ponder or debate. Accept it or move on.
The shock of the moment might make it a bit difficult to figure out what to say when someone comes out as transgender and that’s perfectly natural. Now that you know what to say moving forward, you can be a better ally and offer better support to your trans friend/relative.