Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
– Harvey Fierstein
I think for most of us the most difficult part during the early phases of Transition is simply telling someone what we are going through. The first person I revealed myself to was my therapist during our first session. I didn’t exactly tell her I was trans, but I provided her with enough information to get her pointed in the right direction. Months later I told my mother and that was a hard birth if there ever was one.
I have told many people since then, so many I have lost count. I must be nearing triple digits by now. In a way, it does get easier with practice, but finding the right words still alludes me. It always feels awkward, sometimes more than others, but it’s almost always an uncomfortable place to be for all parties involved. Having a sense of humor about all this helps, but I am not always that funny.
The common response I keep getting from people is “congrats”. People don’t know how to respond, and I get that. But for me this response feels a lot like someone randomly thanking me for my service in a public place – I don’t know what to do with that.
A young woman tried to explain this response to me recently. She said she was congratulating me on having the courage to be myself. I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way, but then again I don’t see me as being courageous. I don’t feel as if I have much of a choice in the matter at all.
For me coming out to people has become a bit of a selfish exercise. Part of me feels as though telling the world will set me free to be myself. I want nothing more than people to recognize me for who I am.
Most MTF trans-folk seem to be hung up on the physical element of passing. I’d be lying if I claimed to not want to peel back some of the effects of testosterone-induced puberty, but at the end of the day, it is less important to me that I pass, and more important to me that people see me for who I am, accept me for who I am, respect me for who I am. I think someone can recognize me as being trans, and still treat me with respect and dignity. What more can I ask for?
I have found that I can sometimes be a bit too eager to tell people who barely know me. After some thought, I believe I am being selfish and that it isn’t fair to the person I am talking to, to just unload that on them without warning. Not everyone needs to know, and not everyone wants to know. It’s been a learning experience.
I’m a work in progress in more than one way.