“You can do this,” the Doctor says to himself as he stares at his reflection. He straightens his jacket, feeling the pressure of his binder beneath his shirt. He forces himself to smile, and his reflection smiles back. His hands flick and flail at his sides, the movement surprisingly soothing. But it isn’t enough to calm his nerves. “You can do this.”
Five days after his regeneration, the Doctor has made the decision to come out as trans to his companions. But despite how he has spent five whole days trying to convince himself to do it, he still feels terrified.
It is at times like this that the Doctor wishes that he was more like the person he used to be. His old self never felt too shy to tell people things; he just did it anyway and dealt with the consequences. But the Doctor isn’t like his old self. And although he prefers his new appearance, the Doctor sort of wishes he has his old self’s lack of gender dysphoria as well as abundant confidence.
The Doctor isn’t being forced to come out; he just feels like he needs to tell his friends. He doesn’t like the idea of hiding anything from them. They already know that he is autistic (his past self told them, and also learnt of Adric’s autism), and the Doctor just hopes this talk will go as well as that one did. But he can’t help but feel anxious; coming from a planet like Gallifrey, it isn’t irrational for the Doctor to feel anxious. After all, Gallifrey is so heteronormative and transphobic that his fears seem almost justified.
But, the Doctor tells himself, he isn’t on Gallifrey anymore. He is with his accepting, lovely companions, and they won’t do anything to hurt him. But the doubt that something might go wrong is enough to make the Doctor’s hearts race and his fingers tremble as he flaps his hands.
“Sorry for making this into a big thing,” the Doctor says, sitting down in the TARDIS’s lounge and watching his companions sit too.
“Doesn’t matter,” Adric says, his voice thick thanks to the chewy stim toy in his mouth. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, there’s something I need to tell you,” he says. “It isn’t a bad thing, so don’t worry,” the Doctor adds as Tegan and Nyssa glance at each other. “There is just something I want to tell you about.”
“What is it, Doctor?” Nyssa asks.
“Well…” the Doctor trails off, swallowing hard. He flaps his hands and decides that just forcing his words out is probably the way to go. “I’m… I’m transgender.”
He tenses up, waiting for their responses. When his companions do respond, their words fill him with such relief.
“That’s cool,” Tegan says, smiling like it’s not a big thing. Which, of course, it actually isn’t. it is only the Doctor’s (valid) fear of transphobia that made him telling them such a big deal.
“Is that all?” Adric says.
“Are you glad that you’ve told us?” Nyssa asks, leaning forwards and patting the Doctor’s arm.
He nods, his face blushing. “Very. Are you all right with it?”
“Of course we are,” Tegan says, smiling.
“It’s not a big thing at all where I come from,” Adric says. “Loads of people are out as trans. It’s seen as normal. I mean, I’m a demiboy.”
Tegan frowns. “A demiboy?”
“You know, a nonbinary person who partly identifies or feels sort of male. A demiboy.”
“I didn’t know that’s what it’s called,” Nyssa says, smiling.
Adric nods. “Yeah, demigenders are a thing.”
“I get it,” Tegan says, nodding her head.
It is oddly shocking to hear them talk about being transgender like it is so accepted. Sometimes the Doctor forgets that the whole universe isn’t as bigoted as his home planet. He just listens to his companions as they chat about being demigender, amazed that Adric knows so much about other genders.
Eventually, Adric glances at the Doctor, and his face goes red. “Sorry, Doctor. I didn’t mean to take over your thing. Sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter,” the Doctor says, smiling.
“On Earth we call it coming out,” Tegan says. “And I think you’re very brave, Doctor. Earth is a scary place to come out as trans… we humans aren’t nearly as progressive as we like to think.”
The Doctor smiles, glad Tegan understands his anxiety. “Thank you, Tegan. Thank you all for… for accepting me.”
“And thank you for telling us,” Nyssa says. “And you too, Adric. I’m glad you feel safe enough with us to tell us.”
The Doctor squeezes Nyssa’s hand and lets Tegan give him a hug. Adric doesn’t like physical contact, so he smiles instead. And the Doctor smiles too, happy and relieved that he is friends with such accepting, caring people.