Today’s another one of those days I like to mark in my journey, if for no other reason to appreciate the distance I’ve traveled.
Two years ago today, I posted to my blog about going to The Steampunk World’s Fair. Not quite hidden in the post was something important; this was the first time I’d announced that I am transgender, for all the world to see.
It was by no means the first time I outed myself. The first person I ever told was my best friend Anne in 1986. I trusted her with information that was shocking in that year, and while she was skeptical, she still loved me for me all the same. Over time I came out to other close friends and family. It was a friendship litmus test; if I didn’t tell someone I wanted to be closer with (including romantic relationships) I would always wonder if they would really like me if they knew. I have had many reactions over time. Some people get awkward and prefer the subject not come up again. Some tell me they feel honored that I trusted them. And a very few back away from me. I know I’ve lost out on a few romantic relationships because of my honesty, and I don’t blame those women for not being on board; being with a transgender person isn’t always easy, and it brings up a lot of questions about sexuality and orientation that aren’t necessarily comfortable.
I was outed at one job. I didn’t find out until 6 months later. On the plus side, my co-workers hadn’t really treated me any different. On the minus, I realized in retrospect that a pattern of feeling like I wasn’t as valued by management started at the same time, and when I addressed them directly about it, I began to be written up for the smallest thing, and encouraged to find work elsewhere. Nine days later, I had a new job, but I was more careful than ever to keep a firewall between personal and professional life as a result.
By 1999, all my non-work friends knew about me, and many had seen me let down my guard and show the real me. I began to go by my androgynous middle name Chris. My first wife became more uncomfortable, and among other reasons, decided to divorce me for being trans — despite knowing since our first date 8 years before, and being supportive in private. I was fine as long as my true self was a dark secret.
After that, I vowed never to let anyone make me feel like an embarrassment. I lived more and more as myself, coping by existing in the middle of the Venn diagram of masculine and feminine for years. I found love again with Amy, and we married in 2004. Amy has been supportive and has never asked me to keep myself a secret in all the years we’ve been together.
In 2012, I attended my first Trans Day of Remembrance. I sat in a room full of other trans people for the first time in many years. I was moved to out myself to a large number of people on social media, to raise awareness. That went so well, I expanded that circle more and more over time until early 2014, when it was only coworkers that I kept the information from.I was invited along on an epic road trip to the Steampunk World’s Fair by K.A. Davur, along with Katina French and Thomas Lamkin Jr. The story of that trip would take a longer post than this one. But the important part was that I spent the convention, 1000 miles from home, entirely as myself, selling my books and interacting as a woman. It was an eye opening experience. People treated me just fine, no one made a big deal out of it. I was just another woman in Steampunk garb selling books and socializing. It went so well, I thought maybe transition wasn’t as impossible as I once thought. I also outed myself to the public with a post about it. I was done hiding, I was finished with being afraid, of worrying who knew and who didn’t know. It was freeing in a ways I can’t even describe.So today is important to me, marking two years of freedom through openness, and as a giant step forward toward transition.What do you long to tell the world? What’s holding you back? What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide who you really are anymore?
Oh, and here’s that post: