It’s a funny thing, this “coming out”. Somehow there’s this idea that it’s this singular defining moment when you declare your identity to the world — red carpets roll out, the heavenly choirs rejoice, and the world just knows and accepts.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Instead, I’ve found that I’m constantly “coming out” to people, ALL. THE. TIME. To my friends, to my extended family, to the person calling from the bank. It’s exhausting.
Before I told anyone I was transgender, it felt like I was constantly having to perform who I thought people expected me to be. In fact, it felt like I had been performing my entire life. But somehow this became exaggerated when I decided to transition. On the one hand, I’m doing things to help me feel more like myself, but then I’m also performing this false person which made me feel even less like myself, like I was lying to everyone, like I was lying to myself.
I was leading a double life. And that was hard. I was always afraid that I’d say or do something that would out me. “Would they understand?” “Would they accept me?” “Is this a safe space?”
But this wasn’t about them. It was about me. And not being or feeling ready to share this profoundly intimate part of my life. And I think that’s okay.
It was important for me to take the time to figure things out for myself, and share when I felt ready. It can be a really awkward and sometimes terrifying experience. So taking time to make sure you’re safe, both emotionally and physically, is key.
Telling my closest friends and family were a series of very intimate and vulnerable moments, and I had told them in way the was appropriate to the particular relationship. Surrounding myself with an incredibly tolerant and open-minded group of friends made telling them a lot easier as I had a sense they would be kind and supportive, even though it may have been difficult for some. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have friends who accept and support who I am. Many people don’t, and that can be a terribly difficult situation to be in. Because of this, I’m always reminded to surround myself with people who are contributing positively to my life, and I to theirs.
I think it’s important to acknowledge the massive role NGO’s, NPO’s and other organizations play in providing support for those who need it. So thank you so so much to Triangle Project, Gender DynamiX, Sonke Gender Justice, Health4Trans and all the other amazing organizations and individuals for supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.