Today is National Coming Out Day, observed annually to celebrate LGBTQ identities and to raise awareness of the issues facing these communities. As you know, “coming out” means letting other people know that you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, and/or questioning (LGBTQ). Coming out is a very personal decision. While it can strengthen and deepen relationships and improve self-esteem, it can be a very scary thing. In some situations, it can even be risky. Only the individual can decide if and when to come out, to whom, and how to do it. Remember the process of coming out is different for everyone. Someone may be out to their friends but not their family for example, and that’s okay.
Every situation is different and personal. It’s important to recognize that there are differences in what it means to be out for LGB people and transgender or transsexual people. Unfortunately, for trans people, coming out (or being outed) as trans can mean that their identities are misunderstood, negated, or disbelieved. And coming out and being out can mean different things to different trans people, depending on where they are in their journey.
Even if you aren’t ready to come out to your friends and family, coming out to your health care provider is important. The more your health care provider knows about you, the better they’re able to help you stay healthy. When it comes to health care there is more than just being honest about your sexual orientation or identity. It’s about being honest about your sexual behaviors. Being honest with your doctor means you’ll be able to focus on health concerns specific to you and avoid unnecessary questions or discussions. If you are concerned that your nurse or doctor will discuss what you talk about with others, it’s okay to ask how confidential your conversation will be. Periodic checkups are essential for staying healthy — whether or not you are out in all aspects of your life. Being open with your provider about your sexuality is an important part of getting the best health care possible.
Planned Parenthood believes that all people deserve nonjudgmental, high-quality, affordable health care, no matter who they are and no matter where they live. We believe that when people are truly cared for, they make their lives, their families, and their communities better and healthier.