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Coming out is a phrase common in the LGBT community that means "to recognize one's sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex identity, and to [become] open about it with oneself and with others." People with nonbinary gender identities have to come out if they are to be recognized as nonbinary. This is because in cultures that recognize only the gender binary, nonbinary people have only the options of being closeted (not "out" or open about one's gender identity) or stealth (living as one's chosen gender without others knowing that one is trans). There are some particular needs that are unique to the situation of coming out as nonbinary, as opposed to coming out as anything else. For example, the average person has an idea of what lesbians are, and knows that they exist in real life. Whatever other obstacles a lesbian woman might face when she comes out, she likely doesn't have to contend with those particular issues. However, the average person doesn't know what nonbinary people are, and doesn't know that they exist in real life. Anyone who comes out as nonbinary needs to be prepared to explain what nonbinary gender is, and prepared for the possibility that others might not accept it as a real gender identity.
When coming out as nonbinary to someone in writing, it can help to use template letters to figure out what to say, and how to say it well. See the page template letters - coming out for a collection of these.
Someone you love has come out
If you have had a friend, family member, or other loved one come out to you it is important to remember that they, by coming out to you, have trusted you enough to tell you this and it is important that you do not react negatively, listen to what they tell you and tell them that you are thankful for their trust and will continue to show respect to them, as well as their gender identity. Do not tell others about this unless your loved one has made it clear to you that you can, outing someone without their permission is a breach of trust.
Deciding to come out
- Not everyone wants to come out and that's fine.
- Whenever you meet someone new it is another person who does not know of your gender and the repeated act of coming out to everyone you meet can be exhausting. Not everyone needs to know your gender identity if you do not wish to tell them. You are not any less nonbinary if you choose to remain in the closet.
- If you would like to know how your family members would react to you coming out, you could try testing the waters by discussing popular nonbinary icons. If you do not think they would react well or are simply not sure, a good strategy is to wait until you no longer rely upon them (if you are living at home or need their financial aid), wait until you are old enough and financially secure enough that, should they react negatively and make you feel unsafe, you have somewhere else to go. To choose not to come out to your family for any reason is completely understandable and does not invalidate your identity.
- If you are still attending school, you may wish to come out to your teacher before the start of classes to ensure that they do not misgender you. If the teacher does not respect your identity or pronouns you can ask to be moved to another class. A stock letter for coming out to teachers can be found under External Links.
National coming out day
The 11th of October is National Coming Out Day. National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 and is a wonderful time to share informative information about your identity, to test the waters, or to come out fully to a group or a specific person.
- Susan's Place Transgender Resource Wiki - A Guide to Coming Out to Family
- Susan's Place Transgender Resource Wiki - A Guide to Coming Out at the Workplace
- Susan's Place Transgender Resource Wiki - Coming out for transsexuals and transvestites
- "Telling Your Parents" by Kay Metsker (1989), Part 1, Part 2.
- Coming Out To Your Teachers Stock Letter 
- "LGBT resources: Definition of terms."