After over a year of quarantine, many people, including myself, have discovered more about themselves and their gender identity. Now that it's time for school again, it can be hard to face the people you used to know and explain that you're using a different name and/or pronouns. You might be dealing with backlash from your parents, people you thought were friends, or still be in the questioning stage. If you're going through this right now, here's a list of 5 things that could help make the transition easier for you.
1. Talk to your teachers
This is best before the school year even starts, but you can easily do it later as well. Email your teachers or talk to them outside of class explaining what name and/or pronouns you prefer. Give them a space to ask you questions, and talk to them. You can also include examples of ways to properly use your pronouns (this is a good idea if you use they/them or neopronouns). If you want your teachers to use a different name in front of your parents, include that as well, and how they should address you when your parents are there. Keep up open communication with your teachers, and correct them on your pronouns.
I did this at the start of freshman year and emailed my counselor as well to officially change my name and gender on the school records. It took me about 4 emails until it actually happened, so stick with it! Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and follow up.
2. Finding Community
Being trans and discovering your identity can be really challenging when you have no one around you who can relate to your struggles. Never underestimate the power of having trans friends. The best thing you can do to support yourself is to find support among other trans people. If you're an underclassman, finding people in older grades with more experience than you can be great. If your school has a GSA club, join it! Theatre or drama clubs generally have a lot of queer people as well, as well as general art-related activities and clubs. If you're not comfortable being out at your school or struggle to make friends, go online. There are a lot of Discords and forums for those in the trans community that can help you feel more included.
Personally, my school's drama club has been great for finding trans people, seeing that most of the club is queer in some way. At this point, most of my friends are not cisgender and it's really great to be able to talk about trans struggles and euphorias with them.
3. pronoun bracelets
This is a less general thing you can do if your pronouns change day to day. It's a really simple way to let people know what pronouns you're most comfortable with that day without having to directly tell them. It can also be a code between some of your close friends if you're closeted. Use some stretchy string and beads to make bracelets in colors corresponding to each pronoun. For example, you could use pink to represent she/her, yellow for they/them, and blue for he/him.
This is something I've just recently started doing as well. I'm genderfluid, as is one of my best friends, and we both wear pronoun bracelets. You'd be surprised how many people respect the pronouns you want to use for the day.
4. Experiment with gender expression
Gender is a spectrum, and your gender expression is your own. If you want to experiment with the way you present yourself, do it! That can mean whatever you want it to mean, from changing your style to wearing your hair slightly differently. If it makes you happy, that's all that matters. Some simple things you could try to start out with are: doing masculine contour, wearing loose fitted or men's clothing, and lowering your voice slightly (for transmascs). For transfems, wearing chapstick and mascara, traditionally "girly" colors like pink, and growing your hair a bit longer than you normally would are great places to start.
Keep in mind that gender expression and gender identity aren't the same thing. I wear makeup and skirts often, even when I'm having a masculine day.
5. Take care of yourself
I'm not going to pretend that being transgender is easy. Everyone's situation is different; everyone's experience with gender is different. The most important thing is to take care of your own mental wellbeing in any way you can. Sometimes, staying closeted is the safest option for the time being. If you are out, stand up for yourself, correct people on your pronouns, and stay safe.
I've noticed that a big part of being openly trans is being almost pushy about it. Some people will refuse to use your pronouns no matter how many times you remind them. But if you keep reminding them each and every time, they might get so annoyed that they might eventually use your pronouns right. The same goes for teachers. They have a lot of students and it can be hard for them to remember everyone's pronouns and preferred names. Make sure you keep up open communication with them, even if you dislike them.
All things considered, being openly transgender at school doesn't have to be as terrible as it seems. There will always be rude people, but as long as you surround yourself with the right friends, and keep advocating for yourself, you'll be alright.