Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Coming Out Story

With the exception of my wife, I’ve only come out to people I’ve met since I moved to Chicago. When I talk to my older friends, I haven’t found much to say when they ask, “what’s going on?” Because until recently I haven’t had the willingness to come out to them, and coming to terms with being trans is so much of what’s going on for me.

Changing that began during my recent beach vacation. One of my dearest friends, L____, vacations with us every year in May. I’ve actually known L____ longer than I’ve known my wife. I didn’t have the courage until the second to last day of our trip to tell her. Finally I realized that it would be disrespectful to my love for her if I continued to keep silent.

It went well I think. Her immediate response was, “I’m surprised, but not any more surprised than when you became Catholic.” She said she knew I was never comfortable with being male in any of the traditional ways of being male. She always thought that I was comfortable with being a male in untraditional ways, though.

I have cis woman friends who look to me as the man who gives them hope for the sex. I prove that not all men are like (fill in the blank). Honestly, I worry (in my co-dependant way) that coming out as trans is going to re-enforce male stereotypes for some of these people.

L____ is the only person in my life that’s ever described me as masculine. She brought that up in fact. She said she never meant that I was macho. She explained what she did mean, but what she said eludes me. L____ wondered how many men are not comfortable with being traditionally masculine. She imagines a lot are.

I went on to explain that I’m not an essentialist and questions of masculine or feminine is not what I'm talking about when I say I’m a trans woman. I’m describing a gender orientation. People whose gender orientation matches their assigned gender don’t ever question their gender orientation. They may question their gender expression which is different.

In other words, I imagine many males question their masculinity. However I think not many males think about having a sex change operation or constantly imagine what it would be like to have been born with a female formed body. She agreed to that.

I concluded by saying that I was telling her this because I loved her. At that point I touched her leg (she was sitting next to me). She took my hand. In my insecurity I was afraid she was taking my hand off her leg because she didn’t want me to touch her now. But and squeezed my hand and said, “I love you too.”


Trinity Annabelle said...

Such a wonderful experience for you! Coming out does get easier as you do it more often - the first few times are the hardest. After a while, it can become almost fun to try to predict just how somebody will react. There's always that bit of anxiety, but it gets pushed more and more to the background.

Don't worry about the whole reinforcing stereotypes thing. You are you, and nobody else. You do not fit into the male stereotype, because in your heart, you're not a guy, you're a girl. And anyway, the male stereotype is so completely impossible to live up to, that probably every guy, if he does any self-examination at all, realizes that he can never be a "real man".

Big hugs to you!

Luminis said...
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Luminis said...

Jubi, I'm very proud of you for coming out to an old friend. It's hard; as Trinity says, especially hardest at the start.

I do know what you mean about reinforcing stereotypes, but that can't be your responsibility. I know it happens to me as well--I come out as interboi, and get an "aahh, that makes sense" response as if no ciswomen were ever dominant and shorthaired. And it's funny to feel simultaneously subversive and an enforcer of stereotypes, but truth, you're not doing the enforcing.

Foley said...

Congratulations Jubi- I'm really happy to hear that you have taken such a big step into claiming your identity, and that you have such good friends.

Don't worry about reinforcing stereotypes, you don't have to be the ambassador of masculinity =D. I think that most men that think about such things are as enthusiastic to conform to "traditional masculinity" as a most women who think about such things are to conform to 50s stereotypes of women. If women want to take you as proof of a negative stereotype about men, then that's up to them- but life is always a lot more enjoyable if you keep an open mind.

I know that when I think about masculinity and me, I really wonder
1) How much value there is putting so much weight on my gender as a fundamental component of my identity, given that our cultural conception of gender is so primitive and insistent on a binary falsehood

2) If my gender expression DOES affect my outlook- how? If there are any universal truths about my gender orientation and identity, then I should be able to find them looking inward rather than outwards, right? The idea of being one way because you are SUPPOSED to be that way is one that has never really made any sense to me. If there is any value to gender myths, I think they should be as an aid to self understanding- not some strange commandment about how you are supposed to act.