Last month the MN T-Girls attended a play which told the story of Susan Kimberly, a transgender woman who served as deputy mayor of Saint Paul years ago. Outside of the theater were these giant reproductions of newspaper articles from around the time the play was set. The articles had quotes from people that Ms. Kimberly worked with before, during, and after her transition.
One of the quotes really stood out to me, for some reason. Someone who Ms. Kimberly knew before she came out said something along the lines of how you think really know someone but it turns out that you don’t.
Of course, I am not sure of the context or what the person was feeling, but it felt as if the person who said was… kind of sad. He could have been making a lighthearted observation or perhaps he was bitter, but it struck me as if he was hurt because he didn’t know something about his friend that was obviously very important to them.
Considering how active my life is en femme, I have come out to what I consider a remarkably few people in my life. I have come out to roommates, girlfriends, friends, and a small number of family members. With the exception of my brother, everyone I have come out to is a girl.
I don’t like gender stereotypes and I avoid generalizing people based on the gender they identify with or the gender that they present as, but I find women are easier to talk to. When I came out to my girlfriend who later became my wife, she summed up who I am perfectly. “You just like to feel beautiful”. She could relate to wanting to be pretty. Although this whole… thing is complicated and hard to explain and hard to understand, she could relate to how I wanted to look and how I wanted to feel. She understood my frustration when my makeup wasn’t cooperating as well as the power and confidence that comes from a cute outfit.
From time to time I consider coming out to my two best male friends, but each time I decide against it. I am never sure (but no one is ever sure how anyone will) react to this revelation. It’s easy to talk to my sister about a new eyeliner, but I doubt my guy friends could understand why a little black dress and stilettos are THE best things in life.
Again, I don’t mean to generalize but… well, I guess I am doing it.
After seeing that quote, I started to think that although my gender identity and wardrobe is not something that they could relate to, who I am, who I REALLY am, might be something that they would want to know. Not because they would understand or accept, but because they are my friends, and I am theirs.
Although they wear work boots and cleats and I wear pink high heels, if I put myself in their shoes, would I want to know something that is this personal, and important to them? And I would. I love my friends and it would hurt if there was something about them that was this significant that they felt they couldn’t share with me.
Coming out is never easy, and everyone reacts differently to this truth. Often the reaction is influenced by the relationship. Coming out to your sister is different than coming out to your roommate, for example.
What I am curious about is if you have come out to a guy, whether a brother or a close friend, how did it go? Do you think coming out was different because they were a dude?
Please comment below, thank you!