Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is a choice that determines your life, and outing can take the control from someone and have sometimes fatal consequences.
Deciding to come out is an act of courage and figuring out who you are, but it can also cause stress and anxiety. Sometimes people don’t want to come out, and the stress of being forcefully exposed without a decision can be detrimental, especially to young people.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a study in 2018 indicated that suicide rates were rising for transgender teenagers at that point, with 14 percent of participants having already attempted suicide.
Overall LGBTQ+ suicide attempt rates are especially concerning. According to The Trevor Project, the rate is 19 percent for LGBTQ+ youths between the ages of 13-18 and more than 8 percent between the ages of 19-24 reported ,for a total of 712,990 attempts within the last year.
These studies don’t specify whether they take into account whether the person was outed without their consent, and imagining the stress of coming out on your own compared to the stress of having the choice being taken out of your hands, it wouldn’t be surprising if forced outing increased risk of suicide.
The issue not only comes from an obvious lack of control the person outed must feel, but also that the person may feel their privacy is violated, and often their trust. Coming out affects someone's entire life, and being violated in such a way is bound to make that person feel like their entire identity is being put into question.
In some cases, being ridiculed may have been a result of being outed by family members, as well as willingly coming out. According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2017 the number of homeless young people was estimated to be 1.6 million, with 40 percent of them being LGBTQ+ teens.
There are also added mental consequences to think about. According to one article that discusses an experience of outing, it can trigger an identity crisis and often lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
The consequences only add on to the already high numbers of mental health issues in the LGBTQ+ community as discussed by one Mental Health America article that indicates that nearly 5.4 million people in the LGBTQ+ community reported that they suffer from some sort of mental illness.
Outing someone removes their choice, and according to one Cosmopolitan article, that choice can also determine close relationships and how the people around you will view you the rest of your life.
Often with highly religious parents, other family members or even friends, coming out can end those relationships, but outing has the potential to streamline that possibility before a person is prepared to deal with it.
The Cosmopolitan article also highlights some of the cases of rising violence against the LGBTQ+ community by 78 percent from 2013 to 2019, which shows the importance of people choosing when they come out and who they are out to.
Acceptance and societal conditions have improved greatly for the LGBTQ+ community within recent decades, but that’s no excuse to assume someone wants to risk the chance that they won’t be accepted just because others are.
We at The Alestle believe that people deserve to come out on their own terms when they feel comfortable, regardless of the situation. With this week being the week of National Coming out day (which was Oct. 11), don’t be the person who could cause someone else to hurt themselves over the stress and shock of being forced to come out.