Coming out as a transwoman is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to do. It means facing it myself, constantly. It means squashing my own doubts that pop up due to a lifetime of mainstream cultural influences that tell me this is wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s not “right” or “desirable” but it’s not wrong, either. It just is. I constantly have to rely on my logical brain to override my emotions and keep me on the right path.
I don’t know how other people see it, but for me, my journey truly began with the coming out process. I came out to Reddit, to try and confirm my suspicions. Reddit doesn’t know me, so “out” is all I am to them. They don’t know the public me, the man I’ve tried to be all these years, they only know the secret me. So in a lot of ways, “out” to Reddit is meaningless. That’s not to say that Reddit is useless, just that it’s not, strictly speaking, truly “out” if they don’t know the “closet” version of me, too.
I knew that I had to get a closer perspective. I chose someone who knew who I was, but didn’t really know me. My stepmother (who I’ll call Mama) has a sister who is lesbian; I call her Auntie, now, mainly because her name is the same as her own aunt’s, who lives 1/4 mile down the road and who I call by her first name. I chose her because, due to her orientation, I figured she would be the best one to approach some sort of understanding of what I’m going through. One day, I contacted her and told her my story. So I was “out” to a family member, but one who only knows OF the “closet” me, but doesn’t actually know me.
Talking to Auntie and her SO was an important step, make no mistake. I needed her perspective, her guidance, her support, reassurance, and the strength she provided me, as well as those same things provided by her SO, in order to proceed on this path. But I needed to take it to the next level; I needed to come out to my parents, partly because I live with them and partly because I need their support to avoid losing my mind.
Coming out to my parents was a different ball game entirely. With Reddit, the risk was practically nonexistent; if I was hurt, I could just not go back. With Auntie, the risk was minimal; if that “out” didn’t go right, I could just as easily have severed ties with her, with little harm done. Now, I’m exceedingly glad that these bad things didn’t happen, but they were the thoughts that ran through my head at the relevant times.
To come out to my parents, I needed information, and I needed to prepare. I was fairly certain I knew my parents well enough to know I’d be safe to come out to them, but knowing and feeling are not the same thing; I needed to feel confident in that knowledge. So I asked Auntie about the matter, and gained reassurance that it was the right thing to do. Know that there are details I’m intentionally leaving out for privacy reasons. So, armed with that information, I began to prepare. I wrote up a letter to read to them, borrowing heavily from the previous blog post in this series. I ran that letter by Reddit, they gave me some excellent advice. Concurrently, I checked my schedule vs. Mama’s, and found that time was against me. I knew I had to act fast, so I did. I revised the letter twice with Reddit’s input, and finalized it. I set a time to sit them down and talk about it, and I read them this letter:
Before we begin, I ask that you allow me to finish this prepared letter in its entirety before asking any questions or making any comments. It’s important that I cover everything, in order.
OK. After much thought and reflection over many years, I recently came to a realization. This realization was of the kind that will irrevocably change my life, no matter what actions I take or don’t take. That realization was that I am transgender; specifically, a female assigned a male body at birth. This must come as a huge surprise. It was at first to me, too. However, in retrospect, it shouldn’t be so, for me, as I’ve always had access to my brain, my memories, and thus my feelings and behaviors for the past 20+ years which, in retrospect, clearly point in this direction.
This is a very scary thing to be going through, but just thinking of the girl inside me struggling to get out, gives me every reason to want to improve myself, to be the woman that I would be, had nature not played a very cruel joke upon my body and bestowed me with a physiology more suited to a man. I’ve found hope, and a reason for self-improvement, in this revelation. I’ve seen the stories of others who have walked this path before me and found happiness. I’ve even seen the progress of a few transgender ladies who shared their pictures of their progress through the years from a male body to a female one – and their transformations are remarkable.
I’ve been in touch with [Auntie] and [Her SO], and have let them know of this situation, gotten their advice and some emotional support, reassurance, etc. They have been a source of great reassurance and strength these past few days since I first contacted [Auntie].
All I want from you is to know that I still have your love and emotional support, and that you can provide that while I make this difficult transition.
I’m sure you have some questions. I can send you some information that will answer some of that; some things I’ve written, and other things I’ve found that have helped me to understand my situation. As for here and now, I’ll answer what I can.
After I read that letter, I immediately knew it was the right course of action. I found acceptance of my condition, and I found parental love directed unconditionally at me. We hugged, we discussed some of the practicalities of the situation, and Mama offered to use her professional contacts to find a local support group and therapist to help me.
Now that I have Dad and Mama on my side, what’s next? Well, that’s for me to decide. I still need to figure out who next to tell, and when, but I don’t see any urgency in that at this point. I need to start therapy with a Gender Therapist, and get on Hormone Replacement Therapy as soon as possible. I need to practice my voice, and all sorts of other minutiae associated with the transition process. And I need to make the little changes that will help me cope on a daily basis. I guess the most important thing I need to do is to carry on, and with the support I now have, I can more easily do that.