disclosure

Glossary entry

disclosure

noun

The conscious, deliberate act of confiding trust in a person(s) or institution that one is transgender, has a transsexual body or, in some cases, is in some way gender non-conforming.


Disclosure is contrasted against coming out, in that disclosure may occur several times throughout the post-coming out lifetime of some trans persons, whereas for other trans persons it may never occur at all. A trans person, similar to those who have non-heteronormative sexual orientations, may experience coming out once — namely around when they first voice themselves as trans and not cis.

A trans person who is afforded a degree of cis transparency reserves the elective decision to disclose themselves as trans as they determine to be appropriate. A voluntary disclosure is a conscious act of autonomous agency, of choosing to entrust another party with personal information which — in that trans person’s judgement — may be useful for a particular situation (for example, disclosing to a new physician or to a potential life partner).

In of itself, disclosure is not a political statement. Disclosure, however, affirms the continuing boundary of social privacy to which a trans person is entitled — much as cis persons already enjoy. Disclosure may be voluntary, but it can also be forced or coerced (i.e., “forcible disclosure”, an act of violence). An absence of disclosure to other parties neither harms, helps, nor impacts those who have not earned that trans person’s implicit trust. An absence of disclosure affirms that the person(s) or institution in question must first earn the trust of that trans person on the trans person’s undisclosed terms — leaving it exclusively to the trans person if and/or when it is safe to disclose that they are trans.

In short, disclosure is a social reflection of respecting and dignifying trans people’s humanity; their ability to make decisions for themselves; and their privacy. Disclosure places the burden of a trans person’s trust to those persons or institutions who have yet to earn it.