This article demonstrates the importance of considering transgender speakers apart from gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, even where there is significant overlap in the linguistic practices of these groups. Through an analysis of transgender coming out narratives, it is shown that previous accounts of this genre, which have focused on gays and lesbians, do not extend to the entire LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Coming out as transgender differs from coming out as gay or lesbian primarily in that there are two distinct ways a person can come out as transgender: before and after a change in gender role. The dissimilarity of coming out before such a transition and afterwards presents a challenge to previous characterizations both of coming out and the narratives that result from this practice. Ultimately, the coming out narrative genre reveals itself as a venue for making sense of stigmatized identities in community-specific ways.
By Lal Zimman, 2009