Meeting Your Heroes

A few years ago I went to a book release party for a writer I really liked for a long time.  The event was hosted by a local bookstore and the author would be there to sign copies of their newest novel.  Up to that point I had purchased every book they published and read every word they had written.  I was thrilled to meet one of my favorite authors.

I purchased my book and waited in line for an hour to meet the writer.  I am not sure if they were having a bad day or what, but as I got closer to the front of the line I could hear the interactions between other fans and the author.  The writer was rude, irritable, and clearly did not want to be there.

I got my book signed, went home a little brokenhearted and put the book on my shelf.  I was devastated that one of my favorite writers wasn’t who I had hoped they would be.  Even today that book is still unread as it reminds me of that day.

I understand that everyone has a bad day and celebrities have no obligation to be friendly and I should get over it, but my point is that it’s a risk to meet your heroes as they may not turn out to be who you hoped they would be.

I think and I overthink a lot about almost everything, especially about gender and my gender identity.  I think about how genderized everything is, I think about how society can freak out when a boy wears fingernail polish, I think about how everything for girls is pink.

I think about how in the closet I am, despite how often I go out and how active I am online, not only with my website but with Twitter and Flickr as well.  I think about how much this side of me is a secret and how some of my closest friends have no idea (as far as I know) about Hannah.

I go back and forth with wanting to come out to people in my life and being content with who knows.  As much as I like shopping or running errands en femme, there are times when it would be nice to have dinner with an old friend.  On the other hand, coming out is exhausting and not without its risks.

When I have come out to people in my life, it has (mostly) been for a purpose.  I have come out to three significant others because they needed to know all of me.  As the relationships progressed and became more serious, it was important that they knew just in case this part of me was a deal-breaker.

When I came out to my sisters and mom, I came out because I had hoped that Hannah would be a part of the family sometimes.  Or at the very least be able to hit the mall with them.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way.  It is what it is.

Coming out is one of the most complicated, hardest things we will ever do.  It’s different than coming out as a gay, I think.  When I have come out to others the conversation is peppered with things like “I’m transgender but…” as well as “I identify as bi-gender and…”.  There are so many facets and nuances that make up who I am and my gender identity.

When my brother came out as gay, everyone knew what that meant. When I came out as transgender, it took (and still takes) a lot of clarification as to what being transgender means to me and who I am.

We all know it’s a risk to come out.  Relations could end, friendships could become strained, families could be changed.  We know this.  It’s frustrating because there is nothing wrong with who we are.  We should not be ashamed of our identities or what we like to wear.

If anything embracing who we are should be commended.  It’s so hard for some of us to accept that this is who we are, let alone come out to the people in our lives that we love.  We want to share this side of us, we don’t want to hide.

But coming out rarely goes the way we think it will go, let alone how we want it to go.  It was (and still is) naive to think that after coming out my sisters would enthusiastically plan a day out shopping and having coffee with their new sister.  I have come to terms with their reaction, but I still get a little sad that hitting the mall with my sisters will never happen.

I wish to stress that someone’s reaction to this side of us is not necessarily indicative of the person they are.  My brother is gay, my mom and sisters are liberal and we have all friends that identify in many ways.  However, it’s not uncommon to be a little… uncomfortable? Unsure? Weirded out? when your son or brother comes out.

Having said that, I was a little surprised that my coming out was not met with the… well, enthusiasm and support I was hoping for, especially considering my family’s embracing of the LGBTQ+ community.  Like meeting your heroes and seeing that they are not the person you thought they would be, it can be a blow to learn that the person you come out to does not react the way you hoped, or expected them to.

Having a positive experiencing when you come out to someone is absolutely amazing.  It’s not uncommon to want to do it again based on a supportive reaction.  But coming out is a different experience each time you do it, not only for the person you come to, but for you as well.

Besides being prepared and honest about yourself, there’s really no right way to come out to someone.  There are no magic words that work.  There is no perfect scenario to bring up this topic.  That being said, there are a lot of wrong ways to have this talk.

Expectations are a tricky thing.  Often they are based on what we hope the outcome will be.  It’s important to not have any preconceived notions of what this revelation will result in.  When we do, we put ourselves at risk of being letdown, disappointed, and brokenhearted.  It’s not unlike meeting someone we admire.  We hope that they are as wonderful as the books they write or the songs they sing and it can be difficult to discover otherwise.

Love, Hannah

 

 

The Force is Fabulous

Billy Dee Williams, best known for his role in the Star Wars movies, has just come out at as gender fluid.

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From out.com:

The Star Wars actor recently opened up about his gender fluidity and using both he/him and she/her pronouns in an interview with Esquire. “I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” he said. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

I totally heart this for a number of reasons.

For starters, it goes against the stereotype that identifying as non-binary is something that is typically associated with a younger generation.  At 82, Williams is older than many of the celebrities that also identify as gender-fluid, transgender, pangender, or other gender related identities.  When someone comes out as non-binary, whether they are a celebrity or not, its not uncommon for them to be dismissed as being young and confused about who they are.  I think it’s wonderful to have this type of representation in our community.

Physically, Williams also presents as someone with an appearance that most would associate with masculine characteristics, mainly because of his mustache.  As someone who is over six feet tall with big boy hands and broad shoulders, I often think I am too masculine (physically at least) to present as anything other than male.  Of course, I have gotten over that as there are no standards one must meet to be any gender (or non-gender) that you want.  Williams is a role model for us as he reminds us that we do not have to be David Bowie-esque androgynous in order to identify or come out as anything we want.

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Finally, Star Wars for a very long time has been considered very much a boy thing.  There was a huge backlash against actresses Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran who starred in the films and much of the criticism and harassment was by men because Ridley and Tran are girls in a movie.

I know, I know, NOT ALL MEN, thank you.

Having an actor in the biggest movie franchise of all time who is a member of our community is a huge thing.  We need allies and representation and thankfully Williams isn’t the only one.  Mark Hamill also often voices his support for the LGBTQ+ community as well.

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Having LGBTQ+ actors and actresses starring in movies is important, but the movies also need to have LGBTQ+ characters as well.  Entertainment should be inclusive and have representation.  At the very least it shouldn’t be anti-anything.  I’m not saying that every movie and television show necessarily needs to have a LGBTQ+ character, but saying a movie (especially one with aliens and robots) can’t have a gay or transgender character is ridiculous.

Growing up I only saw transgender/crossdressing/non-binary characters in movies and television shows portrayed as a laugh or as fetish-y.  It reinforced the idea that we were to be mocked and feared.  I never saw anyone like me.  No one did.  How ground-breaking would it be to see a movie with a husband and wife in bed having a conversation while he’s wearing a nightgown?  A male character wearing leggings and reading a book or something normal.  The clothing shouldn’t be addressed or a plot point, just… something subtle that isn’t turned into a big deal.

As our society is introduced to ideas and representation and perspectives that are outside the traditional male and female thinking, the closer (however slow it may be) we get to being, well, maybe understood or accepted is too optimistic right now, but perhaps tolerated is the best we can hope for at this point.  I would love for Hannah to turn heads at the mall because of my gorgeous dress, not because of my trans-ness.  I would love to run errands in boy mode wearing a femme t-shirt and yoga pants and have no one care.

I mean, I don’t know if they care, and I don’t care if they care, but you know what I mean.

I love that emotions, characteristics, and clothes are moving away from being labeled as masculine and feminine.  Yes, it’s a slow process and not without resistance, but it is progress nonetheless.

Love, Hannah