Question: What if they don’t get it?

Gib asks…

I just came out to a friend and now they have lots of questions that I either don’t want to answer or am not ready to answer yet. What can I do?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on February 7th, 2011 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 8 comments »

8 Responses to “Question: What if they don’t get it?”

  1. J

    I would recommend some books/websites/magazines, etc to them for reading. You should tell your friends that you don’t feel ready to talk about a lot of what they’re asking, but for more general questions about trans people and gender variance, there are a lot of books/pamphlets that do a good job of answering many common questions. You have the absolute right to not answer any questions your friend asks you, and to say that and have your friend accept that answer.


  2. schwuze

    I would agree with the reply above. You are not obligated to say or answer anything you don’t feel comfortable with. In my own experience time has been a good thing. Give your friends and yourself some time to let the situation sink in. True understanding takes time. If one can even talk about such a thing as true understanding. Peace and love.


  3. PS

    This is a journey – it’s perfectly OK to recognize that you are at the beginning of the journey, and don’t know everything yet. Maybe you can both learn together – if you find a book or website that is particularly informative or helpful, send it on to your friend. Thank them for being open to talk about these issues – many “friends” want to avoid the topic altogether – having a friend who is interested and curious is a gift!!


  4. epistemic murk

    Came out in what sense? It’s important!


  5. Tommy


    Explain to them what you feel like explaining, and just tell them you don’t feel comfortable (yet?) answering some questions, or that you are still not sure yourself…generally be honest. If they are true friends, they’ll understand.


    -Write down FAQ.
    -Prepare pre-written answers and explanation and/or links and sources where they can find answers and explanation written by someone else
    -Give pre-written answers/explanation to people who ask for them. Give them sarcastic answers or ignore them if they are particularly rude.

    Remember that you are not a Living Guide To X (be it trans-gender/sexual issues or genderqueer issues (or Neutrosis issues or Androgyne issues), Homo/bi/pan/a/*-sexuality, polyamory or whatever else), you are an individual who also happens to be “X”. You are not forced to explain yourself when you don’t feel like doing that or when the one who’s asking is just being nosy and offensive.


  6. Clare

    Ask them to be patient, and tell them that you too have a lot of questions. the changes in your life are a sign that you’re asking them. As of now you dont quite know the answer but why cant a mystery be delicious?!!


  7. RaeRay

    I think it’s interesting the title of the post is “what if they don’t get it?” but the post itself simply says that you’re not ready/don’t want to answer your friend’s questions.

    If they are you’re really good friends (not just obnoxious acquiantances) then I think it would be worth it to examine why you’re not ready/don’t want to answer their questions. And I’m not suggesting that you be too hard on yourself, or that as other people have said that you have an obligation to them. I think if that you find that your unwillingness to answer their questions is coming from a place of fear, it might be time to ask yourself exactly what you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of their reactions, and is that fear stemming from the perceived reactions that you’ve made up in your own head?

    I commend you for coming out — I think you’ve already accomplished the hardest part! I hope that whatever you decide, your friends understand. But I do know this is a really hard thing for other people to understand. They’re never going to “get it” if they are left in the dark, and I think holding yourself in from people who love you and want to understand you could be potentially damaging.

    Good luck either way!!!!! :)


  8. Jessica

    Don’t you wish sometimes that your life had a rewind button on it? (A pause would be nice, too).

    I used to drive a 1937 Packard. You get questioned every time you get out – what is that? what year? And you have to hear tons of stories. You just don’t drive that kind of car unless you like talking to strangers.

    It kind of depends on whether you’re ‘out’ or you’re ‘OUT’ Does your appearance to strangers immediately say “Hi, I’m trans!” If so, then you’re doing the Packard thing and you’re going to get lots and lots of practice being a spokesperson for your species.

    If we’re just talking about close friends and family, then you know them… say things to them that will produce in them the reaction most like you want them to have. I’d avoid admitting to people, especially family members, that you are new to this, confused and uncertain. They will invariably try to “help” you. That gets old REALLY fast.

    I have a friend who is a mute (she has damaged vocal chords and cannot talk), so she signs. People assume she’s deaf. She hears lots of really interesting stuff because people think she’s deaf. She also has a pre-printed card she hands to people that says “I AM NOT DEAF – I just don’t talk.” She says that the worst thing in the world is when people try to help her. She doesn’t need help. If she did, she’d ask for help.

    What I hate worst is the silent rebuke: the looks. Sometimes you think it’s just your imagination, other times you’re sure and it hurts, but you have nothing to respond to. NEVER APOLOGIZE. Explanation is optional. You’ll get a story you use for those who ask. It’ll come out of your mouth while you’re on autopilot. It just takes time.


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