Yesterday was National Coming Out Day.
Like everything else in 2020 this really snuck up on me. I have been who I am for a long time and my gender identity has evolved over the years and I am, for lack of a better term, used to who I am. I have a remarkable life but things have happened so gradually and methodically that it feels very… normal. Yet when I look back I remember that all of *this* started with wanting to wear panties. I have been going out en femme for years and have done a lot of different things, whether shopping or attending a play or going to a museum or the gas station that I no longer think “OMG I AM OUT IN THE REAL WORLD”.
Sometimes I forget I am trans when I am out, if that makes sense. I forget that some people are seeing me as a t-girl whereas I am just… me.
I have become so accustomed to living my life in two different genders and having two separate lives because of that. There is very little overlap, there are very, very few people in my boy life that know about my girl life. When something like National Coming Out Day rolls around I am reminded that I have something to come out as. It doesn’t always occur to me that I could come out to people in my boy life as something other than who they see.
National Coming Out Day is a reminder of how complicated my life, and I suspect yours as well, is. I am a little jealous of how simple it was for my brother to come out. He said he was gay and everyone knew what that meant. Sure, there were some questions and it took a little time for some family members to adjust but understanding he liked boys instead of girls was, well, simple, for lack of a better word. When I came out to my mom it was a long conversation with a lot of qualifiers. Yes, I am happy when I dress, no I am not unhappy when I am in boy mode. Yes, I identify as a girl sometimes and no, I do not feel I was identified wrongly when I was born. Yes, she has a name, and no, I don’t want to live my life as her exclusively. And so on.
It’s tiring and if I am being honest it’s frustrating. I don’t blame my mom or others when I come out. Questions are better than condemnation. Trying to understand is better than anger. Gender, in a binary sense has been around forever and will be with us for a very, very long time. Colors, interests, clothes, cosmetics are all separated into things that are for boys or things that are for girls. Any sort of variance or overlap isn’t common and many people would think it’s just… weird. The straightest, toughest cismale in the world could wear a pink shirt and the expected comments and suppressed laughter will still follow. A man willingly wearing to wear a dress, nail polish, whatever is met with bewilderment. Why would a guy WANT to wear that?
National Coming Out Day is conflicting for those like us. We have a hard enough time understanding this side of us, and it’s even harder for those who aren’t us. Gender identity feels more complicated than sexual identity. I’m sure it’s not, but I can only speak from my experiences. In some ways I think it’s… well, not easier, but perhaps less complicated for those who have transitioned, In some ways, there’s precedence for those who live their life as a different gender than the one they were identified as at birth. Most people have heard of Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, and Kaitlyn Jenner. But there isn’t a lot of “famous people” who go back and forth between gender presentation.
“I have always felt like a girl, so I decided to transition” is something that some of my friends have told me and have told their families. To me, that sounds so simple. I know it’s not and I am not trying to trivialize that conversation, please understand that. I wish there was a simpler way to explain who I am, but I suppose that every non-cis person wishes that. I just feel that there are so many facets to who I am. Two days ago I walked around downtown Saint Paul in a beautiful dress, black stilettos, and a $75 makeover. That night in “boy mode” I went to sleep in a nightgown and woke up this morning and put on a pair of femme leggings. To anyone that sees me, I am either in full girl mode, full boy mode (underdressing of course) or in boy mode wearing “girl clothes” (meaning femme jeans or going for a run in femme leggings). Not many people in my life (either lives) sees more than one of these sides of me. My wife does, but hardly anyone else does.
I have accepted that I will likely never come out to more people in my boy life. I would like to, sometimes I feel I am being dishonest with some of my oldest friends. The thought of Hannah having coffee with people that only knew me exclusively as a boy sounds really nice.
So, why not come out? Well, it’s exhausting. It’s usually worth it, though. But there’s always a chance that some of the people in my life that I love would reject me. Since I don’t feel that transitioning is right for me it sort of feels like that risk is too high, were I to come out and be rejected because of who I am. I have known many people who I thought were supportive of every letter in the LGBTQ+ community only for them to crack a joke about a transperson. It’s heartbreaking.
I am proud of everyone who has come out, whether to their co-workers, their families, to their spouses, and to themselves. It’s not easy to be who we are, believe me. It creates an insane amount of overthinking and insecurity and fear. I live with the anxiety that being who we are causes, even if I don’t feel it at every moment. Although on a surface level my life en femme may look different than yours, please understand that we all live with the same feelings, the same conflicting emotions, the same challenges, the same yearning to be able to be who we are whenever we want and for as long as we want. I would have loved to have met up with my mom for dinner after my photo shoot on Saturday, but I knew that were that to happen I would need to go home, wash off my makeup, and change back to boy mode before I could see her. I like being bi-gender, I like who I am, I just wish the lines in my life weren’t as divided as the different sides of my closet.