Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Power of Coming Out

Since beginning transition, at least four different people have contacted me with their own transgendered dilemmas. Three of them were completely or almost completely in the closet, while all sought connection and common ground. I have been able to share with them my experience and understanding, and that in turn has, I believe, moved each to some degree, relieving loneliness, anxiety, and isolation. My visibility has provided comfort for other lonely souls.

Gender dysphoria is an incredibly lonely condition. I remember when I was a kid, the great aching loneliness that filled my days. I was afraid to share with anyone – even the closest members of my family, my parents and siblings – who I was, my deepest desires, my aspirations, my own character. Not only did I fear the ridicule that I would have received, I didn't understand why I was so different from everyone else – why I wanted so much to do girl things, why it was so hard to connect with boys, why I didn't like what they liked. I just knew I didn't fit in – anywhere. Forming my presentation around a model of gender that was completely extrinsic, I could not relate to people as I was, and so I developed my skill at deception – and that disguised my own loneliness and inadequacy in a vain attempt to fit in, which only left me lonelier than ever.

It is that effort to hide one's self, based on needs for safety and connection, that makes transgendered people so lonely, so socially isolated. It is different for me now. Sure, I'm cut off from some people – those who don't understand, or who think that their God really hates people like me and so they should, too, or whatever – but I'm fully connected with so many more. I no longer spend my time developing and perfecting deception. I live openly and honestly, and that honesty has penetrated to every aspect of my life. Where I used to act in minor dishonest ways, lying or cheating or even stealing, I now rebel against those temptations, and really don't even find them tempting. Dishonesty now feels not like something natural and integral in my life, but like a desecration of it.

So the greatest value of transition for me is the redemption of my own character. And, close behind it, is my ability to connect with community, with other people – an end to loneliness. People see that, and respond to it. And other lonely souls, suffering from gender dysphoria, find connection and, I think, comfort.

There is power in coming out. It is social power – and it is also spiritual power.

2 comments:

anne said...

Hey girl,

It's so obvious when something is wrong, that I think every parent should be able to sit down with a pre-adolescent kid, explain to them about gayness and transness and all the other stuff (that you go crazy on PMS as a woman) that you can become a hulking maniac as a man, etc., etc. We know a boy who even at four insisted that everyone call him Emily and wore dresses and wanted to do ballet. His dad is a total homophobe, but I have hope that his mom might be clued in.

THEN before all the development takes place a person could choose what they wanted to be. I think it's ugly that some people insist that you can only be one thing and then damn you to hell when you commit suicide, unable to do the mental gymnastics to do that thing.

But this happens all the time. It would just be nice if society allowed for some of the things that can be fixed to be fixed.

I knew too many kids in school who were just screwed up, not just because they didn't know what they wanted or who they really were, but because they were trying to play along with the part they were assigned.

It takes enormous courage to break out of the part you are assigned to play. But it's a good test. Some of us will recognize that courage, and others will fear and despise you. Well, now it's out in the open instead of something secret that you knew would surface eventually if you couldn't hide well enough.

My sister NOW admires my integrity. I told her that it was because I was so bad at hiding. She regrets now that she was so good at playing her part.

Rewrite your script. It's a human thing to do.

Be human.
hugs
anne

aj said...

yep.

you are inspiration for sure.

there indeed is release in being known.

im thankful i have some close friends who can be trusted with such things.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz