My mother once asked me "Why can't you just be Gay? then nobody would have to even know!"
Why would anyone ever need to come out, to reveal that they were Queer, whether being Gay, or even GenderQueer, such as the transsexual? Why not stay in the closet, and avoid any difficulty? Why tell? Why not just keep silent?
The true, heartfelt value of Coming Out is not a lot of things that many people seem to think it is. At the deepest level, Coming Out is not about being part of a community of other queers, it is not about political change or theory, it is not about rubbing anyone's nose in metaphoric do-do.
Coming Out is a matter of personal validation.
Our culture still puts a lot of energy into hatred and damnation of difference in general, and being queer in particular. From grade school on, the constant use of terms like 'fag' and 'lesbo' and 'sex change' as curses and disparagement inflicts and instills a deep set shame in almost everyone. This subtle and pervasive bigotry is quickly escalated to actual violence or discrimination that occurs on a daily basis that can affect almost every aspect of life.
Within such a toxic environment of both overt and covert condemnation, the queer individual is constantly under psychological and emotional attack.
This attack easily - and early in life - becomes internalized to varying degrees. Not only is the queer individual buffeted by storms of hatred outside, but soon becomes infected with hatred from the inside. Self worth becomes replaced with varying degrees of shame and even self loathing. Inevitably this leads to suffering, and even self destruction.
A viscious circle is created, one that derives from cultural pressure, and is sustained by internal judgment. The queer person hides to avoid pain and shame. The pain and shame become internalized as the cultural messages that cause it become part of the individual. Constant hiding implies the need to hide, and that need is based on the fear of rejection and harm. The individual, alone against society, finds it difficult to entirely reject the basis of the hatred of so many, and a resulting self condemnation abets the impulse to hide. In turn, the act of hiding reinforces the internalized self condemnation, and so it goes, round and round.
To Come Out, is to stop hiding, and to break that viscious circle of self loathing.
We live in a culture focused on family and friends, on human interaction. The basis of most everyday communication is about our lives and our relationships. The closeted individual must either lie about their lives, or must fall silent and otherwise avoid basic human communication.
Over time, this causes multiple levels of suffering. To feel unable to express the joy of a happy day with a loved one, or to tell a funny story about one's life, or to share wisdom gained, is to be made mute. Such self censorship destroys the soul, and leads to withdrawal and depression.
When a person dares to Come Out, it is not about broadcasting the wonders of being gay, or of being transgendered, it is simply making a stand against the constant minimization and obliteration of their existence. To be Out is to claim the basic human feelings of dignity, self worth and the freedom to speak, to share, to be. The ability to communicate about one's own life in an honest and real manner, devoid of lies or subterfuge, without fear of discovery or embarrassment, just like any other person, is the deepest reason to Come Out.
The reason this site exists is because your author decided she was sick of forever being mute. The pain of having to fall silent, to hide, to change a subject to avoid accidental discovery, the constant terror that anyone should find out my awful secret, became too much to bear. I was living like a phantom, hiding invisibly in the shadows and margins of society.
Basic to that behavior, is the concept that my 'secret' was in fact 'awful'. Why? Why should it be so awful to be a transsexual? Why should it be so embarrassing, so shameful?
It is true that much of our society has a serious problem with the condition. There are those who feel fatal levels of hatred toward transsexuality, who care nothing about understanding it, or the suffering of its victims. There are narrow souls that refuse to accept the validity of the plight of the transsexual, or who would just as soon see all transsexuals dead.
There are some potential nasty consequences for the public transsexual, just as there is for the public queer of any stripe.
But perhaps even more so for the transgendered, because the issue of gender is so important to people. Gender is part of self definition, and intrinsic to the constancy of the world view of many people. Certain that the sun will come up tomorrow, many people also hold sex and gender to be equally absolute. The transsexual calls into question the absoluteness of a fundamental part of reality itself. For those with a weak grasp of reality, this becomes deeply disturbing. The world is not lacking for those with such a weak grasp.
Even so, even with the possible dangers, there comes a point where hiding, where cowering to avoid the expected disdain of nameless 'others' becomes unendurable. To achieve a solid self worth it sometimes becomes necessary to be open about that self, to simply refuse to be silenced any longer. In order to feel good about my self, I needed to claim the same freedom that most humans take for granted, the freedom to simply exist, as myself, openly.
Coming Out serves to break the circle of torment and self condemnation. It destroys the act of hiding behind lies, and with it the implication that such behavior is preferable to honesty. It is the supreme act of a person who refuses to be damned, and who stands up as an individual with the basic natural right to exist.
Coming Out is freedom from enslavement and oppression. It is not easy. It can have consequences. But it sometimes must be done, to stop internalized self loathing, to achieve self acceptance.
It is not always safe or prudent to Come Out in all circumstances. It is not always wise to be completely open. Sometimes the only rational thing to do is to be invisible, especially for the much maligned transsexual. No one should ever be forced to be Out, just as no one should be forced to hide. But sometimes, sometimes, just to know peace and contentment of self, it becomes useful and important to be Out.
The bottom line of Coming Out is to be alive in the world.
Never think that being TRANSSEXUAL is being gay ,this is far from the truth and the misguided people who think that these two things are the same ,are totally uneducated .
More On Coming Out
A lot the ideas below are not specific to coming out. They are certainly not all from me personally, I just collected them under this topic. Some are general remarks about confrontations with a difference of opinion and a difference of interest. Some contain some (known) psychological tips. Some might sound standard advice to Sales people. That's not so strange as you have to sell a difficult story. These remarks are all ingredients, you have to come up with the recipe for the occasion and pick the right ones. Some are very personal observations, so be sure to think this through for your situation.
- Work on self confidence before you come out. If you show yourself more certain, it is less likely that people will start picking on you. It is easier for another person to accept a convincing attitude. An uncertain attitude can give rise to fear an aggression. This you do by preparing. Know very clearly for yourself what you want and why want it. Write it down on paper. Question yourself critically. (Cfr . the preparations you have to do for your financial planning). If you have thought this through well, you can deal with any questions and remarks which might come. The three following observation can help to raise your self confidence.
- Your feelings and struggle are not something to be ashamed of. They are caused by a (medical) condition which is not well known and poorly understood. It is not a choice you have or have made. Even if you would push them away it now, they will certainly come back later. Therapists can back up your statement. You might have the impression that at a certain point you made a choice. Most likely what you experienced is that you accepted yourself as you are and not as what other people expected you to be. That is not what I would call making a choice, but a good step towards developing a more harmonious life.
- You don't have to be ashamed for the therapy you want to follow (HRT and SRS). For a TS person, the only known treatment with an acceptable chance of success is to transition. This is scientifically proven. All other treatments tried have a chance of success which does not even come close.
- The cause of TS is not know to date, although there are some hypotheses. Possible reactions of others (typically parents or other close relatives) to blame it on certain circumstances, on their behavior or on themselves make no sense. They are completely speculative. As the causes are not known, no one is to blame, as no could have known. So don't blame yourself either.
- Beware of your body language. Pay attention not to send out conflicting messages (e.g having an insecure pose while you say you feel confident or vice versa). Say what you feel and feel what you say.
- Stress the pain you feel from your current condition and the problems you have in functioning like this. Doing nothing will not improve your quality of life, quite likely things would get worse. Most people will be more open to this (who would want to see someone suffer) than the desire you feel to complete the transition and live in the other role. Most people cannot relate to the latter or come close to understanding. It is more likely to be rejected as a whims. However, IMO, the pain and the desire are both sides of the same coin, only most people can read one side better than the other.
- Adapt your message to the person or group you are addressing. Pay attention to sensitivities and try to avoid them. Maybe you do not want to stress your all your objectives immediately, and drape them with other aspects of transition which your audience is more sensitive to. You can decide to tell things gradually during multiple conversations. You might have the feeling that you are holding back, but you are not. You just look for the right timing.
- Look for the right timing. This can be difficult. You might be almost bursting to tell your story while something happens which makes the atmosphere totally unsuitable for your message. In that case, hold your breath, however difficult. You will not regret this.
- Adapt your style to the style of your audience. If the person or group is direct, be direct. In most cases people understand better if things are expressed in a way they would express it. So is your audience direct, indirect, rational, emotional, extrovert etc.
- Try to put yourself in the position of the person or group you are talking too and imagine yourself explaining from there point of view. Try to imagine what your reaction would be if you were them.
- Addressing a group as a group assures a well structured and uniform communication to all members of the group. It also shows courage which most people are susceptible to. Depending on the group, I think it is important to brief the leader of the group first and assure his presence. This does not have to be a leader in true sense, but maybe (one) the most respected people by the group. He/She can control the groups reactions while communicating and back you. The disadvantage is of course that a lot of reactions can come to you simultaneously and that one triggers another (escalation).
- Addressing members of a group individually and selectively has the advantage of having better control over the conversation and its circumstances. However, your communication will not always be the same or understood in the same way by different people. Soon you risk that conflicting messages flow through the groups informal communication network (yeah, nice words for gossip and backtalk). So timing is very important. I think contacting all (most) individuals before they start talking to each other is key. So this is most appropriately if these people don't see each other to frequently or you can rely on their discretion.
- Emotions : be prepared for emotional shockwaves. You will know best who to expect them from. Sometimes they will come from unexpected corners. Emotional responses are not necessarily a negative sign. They will sometimes come from people who really care about you. The response means that they are concerned with what will happen to you. I personally find this most difficult to deal with because of the emotional response which it can trigger within me. This will cloud my perception and handicap me to react appropriately. If anticipated however, I stand stronger.
- Not all emotions are what they look like. Anger and aggression can sometimes be another face of fear. This can be fear for what the future will bring for you, but most surely fear for what the future will bring for them. How will they tell this to other people ? How will people react to this situation ? How will this affect their lives ? Preparing some answers for them is key. Personally I like the idea of using a printed folder with explanations and background. This can be self-made but maybe better from an institute. It brings the subject on a more neutral, objective terrain (this is not just something from you) and gives it a serious label.
- An emotional response to an emotional response can be quite all right too, as long as it does escalate the original response. For example, becoming angry because the other party is angry is often not a good idea from my experience. It might be well different for you. I had on several occasions tears in my eyes because I felt hurt, treated unfairly or completely misunderstood. The tears just came and passed on the right message to the other party which backed off and tried to be more understanding. In my case, people were not used to see me crying so this was a strong signal. Again this might be different for you. Maybe becoming silent or the opposite will do the same for you ? The key thing is that the emotional message should be a strong indicator that this is dead serious for you.
- When things get too emotional, it is mostly a good idea to break off the conversation. People wont be listening anymore anyway or are likely to interpret statements incorrectly and twist them. However you need to have an idea on how to follow-up. A second try is in general more difficult. On the other hand, it gives everyone time to let the dust settle down and think things through. Leaving something like your statement or a folder can be of help there. Next time, you do not need to start from scratch.
For me this was a very harrowing time and needing to do this in an employable status meant keeping my job and transitioning their. Remember these people only knew me a certain way and that was totally male. I did talk with my employer and he asked me this " DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO THIS " obviously I said yes to this . Below is some tips on how to handle this .
So you've gone to a Gender Psychologist and Possibly a Psychiatrist. After a few weeks the diagnosis has been made and your told you are suffering from Gender Dysphoria. The solution is the Real Life Test (RLT) and if you can work and live as a woman for one to two years you could be approved for Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) to assign you to the female gender. You may also be provided with the name of an Endocrinologist and your first letter of recommendation for hormones. Some though may want you to be in the Real Life Test for three months before prescribing Female Hormones.
This article is about the preparations you will need to make for your RLT. Preparations, you say. Why? All I have to do is throw on a dress and start living the role. Well yes you could but you do want your RLT to be successful don't you? Successful post-op male to female Transsexuals all have one thing in common, planning. Your Gender Counselor can help you a lot with setting up a plan that works.
Some questions to think about:
Are you going to stay where you are or would you move to some place new and live Stealth (hidden)?
Are you going to start a new job or transition on the old one?
Since Electrolysis requires that you have a few days growth of beard how will that impact your passing as a woman?
Will you have (FFS) Facial feminization surgery before, during or after your transition, or ever?
What will you do with your hair? If you're thin up top would you use a wig, partial hairpiece blended with your own hair or get hair transplants?
How will you tell your family, friends and co-workers about being Transsexual?
How big of a wardrobe will you need to buy?
Can you transition at work?
Who will you pick for your GRS Surgery?
When will you apply for a legal name change and change your identity papers?
Many (MTF) Male to female Transsexuals opt to complete or nearly complete electrolysis first. Don't forget that you'll have to grow your beard a few days in between sessions. Its Hard to pass with stubble on your face. Some also Opt to get Facial Feminization (FFS) and hair transplants before they start the RLT. Of course not everyone can afford this though.
Most larger companies will let you transition on the job. To find out if this is possible ask your Human Resource Department. The biggest issue of course is the bathroom issue. Usually a unisex or an assigned bathroom is the answer.
Coming out to family, friends and co-workers may well be the hardest part of transition. Your human resources department usually will write a letter to employees describing what's going on. Many opt to write an open letter to employees as well. You could use the letter option for friends and family but experience shows dealing one on one, face to face is a good approach before transitioning. The results may surprise you. The ones that you thought would support you may not, and the one you thought wouldn't support you might. There's no predicting the results. Prepare to loose some of them though. Any rejections are usually due to misconceptions about Transsexuality and usually are not because of you.
Picking your GRS surgeon early is important as waiting times can be up to a year. Ask others about their results.
Identification is important these days. You will be required to get a legal name change. You will then need to change all your important papers, driver's license and bank accounts. Make lots of copy's of everything. Use originals where possible.
We Live And Learn .
Tina Marie Phillips.