That does make sense, yes, thanks Sam!
And yeah, I do have this "something has to happen RIGHT NOW!" feeling. Totally.
But I tell myself that it's not a right now issue, just one that I newly learned about. It's been there all these years, I just didn't know about it before. And what needs to happen and what not is up to them, another autonomous adult human being, not me.
It's never been the kind of friendship where we bond over our femininity. So I don't have any "girlfriends" feelings to let go of. I guess that's helpful.
Looking back, I feel like I should have known. But I somehow... Didn't. At all. I was aware that they were uncomfortable in their own skin but I assumed it was just "regular" body issues. And it never occurred to me to ask. I kind of took it all for granted.
One thing that threw me off is that during the past few years, they started to present more feminine than before and also began to talk about seeing themselves in relationships with men too. Which seemed somehow off to me but I thought nothing further of it, people change, sexuality, preferences, gender expression can change, who am I to doubt anything. I thought maybe I have some kind of inner resistance to this because I often have problems with change and also I personally really liked their old style. So when asked I said yeah, you look great (which wasn't a lie, they always look great) or yeah, cool, whatever makes you happy.
Then the way this maybe-coming-out started was them admitting to me that all those changes were part of a performance, an attempt to get relatives and people at work to treat them better, and it worked; the more "womanly" and "straight" they seemed, the less harassment they had to deal with. But that it came at the cost of feeling even more shitty inside and they were trying to decide what was the lesser evil. So I was already really outraged and shocked when they came to the other stuff, which probably didn't help my reaction.
I am just so appalled that this kind of charade is necessary to be treated with basic respect and decency. What the heck is wrong with people? And then my friend says they feel bad for "lying" to a family member about who they are. I want to just shout, you know what? You owe those people absolutely nothing. Lie all you want, go right ahead. If all they care about is a version of you they've made up in their own heads then they don't deserve the real you anyway.
You're right, sometimes things just suck.