What helps when Coming Out?

Authors: Dr. phil. Ulli Biechele, Dipl.-Psych. Margret Göth, Dipl.-Psych. Thomas Heinrich und Dipl.-Psych. Andrea Lang

For the majority of people, finding information about and having contact with other LGBTQI* persons is very important when coming out. Many experience it as a real release to finally find like-minded people and to be able to express and live the feelings that they may have felt for a long time.

For example, LGBTQI* persons can connect with one another through lesbian or pink telephone lines or LGBTQI* advocacy centers. Coming out groups, which unfortunately only a few big cities have, offer a setting in which you can discuss your questions/issues with other people who find themselves in a similar situation, and try out new things together.

Many also find support through their friends and family. However, it is important to remember that friends and especially parents first have to deal with the new revelations and often go through their own internal process of disbelief, denial, tolerance and final recognition. Unfortunately, around one third of all parents still fail to accept their gay, lesbian and bisexual children in an appreciative way (see the study on "She loves her, he loves him", Berlin Senate Administration for Schools, Youth and Sport, Berlin, 1999). (Studie "Sie liebt sie, er liebt ihn", Senatsverwaltung für Schule, Jugend u. Sport Berlin, 1999)

For fear of rejection, trans children and young people often hide their gender identity. The time span between becoming aware of being trans and coming out usually spans several years (see study “Coming out – and then…?!”(Studie "Coming-out - und dann...?!", Krell & Oldemeyer, 2015). In fact, 70% of the 14-27 year olds interviewed in the study reported having bad experiences within their immediate family. This includes their identity not being taken seriously (78% of them) or their identity being deliberately ignored (61%). The psychosocial consequences of this are extensive: young trans persons suffer particularly often from loneliness, anxiety, problems at school, insecurity, feelings of guilt, depression and self-harm. (see "Problembeschreibung Transphobie", Kummer, 2011).

In the context of advocacy and therapy, it is important that all feelings are taken seriously; there should be space for positive feelings as well as fears and worries. It goes without saying that therapists should not push clients in one particular direction. Furthermore, help and advice can be given to find information and establish contacts, and possible future difficult conversations can be prepared together.

Last updated: 02/26/2021 - 10:36

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