It just occurred to me that I never talk much about the coming out process in transition. This is mainly because I was already mostly done with that when I began this blog, and because it really sucked and wasn’t ready to be reminded of a highly difficult year. Actually that was the easy part – the self-discovery, the death of a parent, a huge health crisis my ex went through kind of bumped coming out down to a lukewarm 4th or 5th spot.
Coming out as trans is much more difficult than coming out as gay, at least in my opinion. When my gender specialist, in performing his formal assessment of my condition, told me that sometimes gay people delude themselves into thinking they are trans because it seems easier, I laughed in his face. People know what gay is, even if they’ve been indoctrinated into thinking it’s a whimsical lifestyle choice rather than a bona fide status of being. Either way, most people have a good idea what it’s about as it’s pretty straightforward unless you are Dwight Schrute. I love, by the way, when he asks his HR rep where gay men’s vaginas were. When he was told they don’t have them, he followed it up with, “So what determines which of the two penises will open up to accept the entry of the other?” Silly stuff, and totally unrealistic.
Coming out as trans is a bit different. Expect a long conversation as most people only have a dim idea of what trans is to begin with, so a lot of explanation is needed. Also expect a lot of inappropriate questions. The same person who would never dream of asking a gay man who came out to them, “So, are you like a pitcher or a catcher?”, have no qualms freely asking about your genitalia, surgical plans, and sexual orientation. I do suppose many gays encounter push back; questions intended to really make them think about why they are suddenly making this up. We get the same of course, question after question regarding how sure we really are followed by a nice brainstorming session about what might really be wrong with you. I got some of this, with the most common one being that this was just stress from my father passing away. Um, sure, if I correctly predicted this happening when I was 4 and developed a ludicrous plan for coping with it. Not to mention most people don’t attempt to escape stress by diving into one of the most arguably stressful endeavors of all time.
Coming out is super difficult if you are not prepared for it. It sure helps to have talking points lined up and well rehearsed so you don’t stumble through it like an inebriated jackass like I often did. I found the best way to tell people is one on one, which for me reduced the performance anxiety and avoided being ganged up on in the event the group hearing the announcement was determined to make me understand I was going bananas. Now I think the worst way to tell people is to show up at your nieces bat mitzvah dressed as Elvira after huffing paint fumes. Really hard to come back from that one.
My coming out went much better than expected. No one I told in person rejected me out of hand. Now I know some of you are going to think I violated the trans code of conduct with this, but I decided to leave nothing off the table for discussion. Rude and not their business, sure. Being up front and open about everything made it easier for me, and I have to argue that takes priority. Sure, I might have fucked it up for the super unlikely next person to have to come out to them, but chances are it was not going to happen before I got the chance to explain in follow up conversations, providing they were open.
The easiest way to come out of course is remotly. The phone totally sucks for this because not only do you not get to see facial expressions, but there is a good chance the word is going to spread rapidly ahead of you. By the time you call the second person, 12 others will already know. Snail mail letters are the best, except it’s much easier for people to think you are joking or have gone insane. Nothing more deafening than a lack of reply, so try to reserve this for people you really hardly ever see, or are only on your holiday card list. It’s less stressful sure, but remember that it’s much harder to hate you to your face.
The most passive aggressive way to come out is to start a very wordy blog rife with your personal information, and jam packed with information about trans and a light, humorous tone. When rumors start to spread that there is a tranny afoot, someone will find it and hopefully read enough to understand you as a human being and not just some creepy weirdo looking to pull off a fast one. I would not do this, however, if you are the paranoid type because you will only drive yourself crazy wondering when the shoe is going to drop.
Just for fun, here are some openers to a coming out conversation I would probably steer clear of:
1. I have to confess, your wife and I are having an affair. Psych! No, but I am transgendered.
2. Guess what kind of underwear I’m wearing right now!
3. Let’s just say I never get that ‘not so fresh feeling’ down there, but…. eventually I will.
4. Boners, right? Lord what I wouldn’t do to get rid of them forever!
5. So, like imagine my head on your girlfriends body.
6. Sweetie, I have a great idea to save money! Share one wardrobe! Huh?
7. Next summer when I take my shirt off in front of you guys, you are going to get soooo horney!
8. You know those ‘chicks with dicks’ pornos you are into? Welllll…..
9. Wouldn’t it be so cool if you could just carry your testicles around in a jar of formaldehyde?
10. Mom? Dad? Before you react to what I have to say, just remember that you made me this way.
Yeah, just keep it to the facts Ma’am, and you’ll do just fine.