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Archive for the ‘Coming Out’ Category

Question MarkHere, we have two coming-out posts reflecting very different situations. As always, I encourage readers to chime in. Here goes:

A reader writes: “I identify as a genderfluid/ genderqueer FTM transsexual who presents and lives publicly as male. I’ve been in a relationship with a cissexual, genderqueer person who presents and lives publicly as female for about a year and a half.

“She recently came out to her parents as queer. I’ve been out to my family as queer and trans for years, but I’m not out to her family (and most people in general). It simply doesn’t come up/isn’t any of their business, combined with an intense fear I have of people knowing I’m trans, in part due to an experience of coming out to someone I thought I could trust and his reaction being to rape me to try to prove to me that I’m female. I don’t trust many people with this information.

“My partner and I just got engaged, and everyone is happy for us and all is well and dandy. My concern is that folks in my family (who all know my gender history) will tell other people at the wedding, perhaps even tell everyone at once during a toast. I can’t really imagine a worse way for me to come out to her family.

“The options I see are (1) tell her family ahead of time, (2) keep our families apart/elope, and (3) ask folks in my family not to out me and just hope they are able to do it. Do you see any options I’m missing? I’m just so uncomfortable with all of these options. I imagine this information will eventually make the rounds, but I’d feel much more comfortable if it came up naturally and not as a big announcement.”

That’s a tough one. But there’s one thing missing from all these options, and that is – what does your fiancée think? It’s not her decision when and how you come out, but I think under these circumstances, it’s definitely something that the two of you should discuss together (with you getting the final say if the two of you disagree).

My personal opinion is that you should tell her family ahead of time, and here’s why: The two families will probably have many interactions over the years, even if you elope. Expecting every member of your family to honor an agreement not to out you over the next fifty years might be more than you can reasonably count on.

Just expecting no one to slip up at the wedding might be too much. Even with the best of intentions, someone can easily make a mistake, and there could be one family member who thinks this bit of information might be too juicy to withhold – especially after a few champagne toasts. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: I’ve never felt like I fit in until I started to dress as a male at University a few year ago. Before I left University, I threw away my small collection of male clothes because I was scared of what my parents would say/think.

“When I was 16, I was forced by my sister, in particular, to wear a dress. I did tell my sister at the time (who is three years older than me) that I didn’t feel right in a dress, but she said, ‘You’re a woman, so act like one.’ Now I’m settled in a job I really enjoy, I feel it’s time to start to transition, but I’m scared of my parents’ reaction.

“A few years ago, they found out I self-harm, and my Mum didn’t know what to say, but one morning my Dad suddenly wrestled me to the ground and shouted and spat at me, saying, ‘Do you want someone to talk all simple to you? Do you want a straight jacket? Just stop it.’

“I never sought professional help, because I felt like I needed my parents’ support. I stopped self-harming a couple of years later. I want to start to wear male clothes again, to begin the transition, but I’m scared that my parents won’t support me, especially after their reaction to the self-harm.

“I try to dress as androgynous as I can, and I’m being read as a male a fair bit already. Dad keeps on lifting my top up to see how many layers I’ve got on. I feel humiliated, but if I tell him to stop, he still does it.

“My other worry is work. If I suddenly wear male clothing, people may ask questions. Would it be better to make an announcement before I dress as male, so everyone knows what’s happening?”

I don’t know how old you are or whether or not you still live with your parents, but it sounds as if you might be out on your own. You have graduated and you have a good job. If you’re not out on your own, you might consider saving the money to do that fairly soon, if that’s possible.

You do not need your parents’ support to start therapy if you are able to pay for it yourself or have some kind of health coverage that will pay for it. I suggest you start therapy, regardless of what you decide to do. Even though you say you stopped self-harming two years ago, there is a possibility that this could start again as you become more stressed, and some professional support might be able to prevent a setback.

A therapist can also help you make decisions about how to come out at work and what to do about your parents, as well as helping you deal with any negative repercussions that might come from coming out or transitioning in any way, if that’s what you decide to do. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “My first close contact with a transgender individual was following a car wreck where the victim was later discovered to be transgender.

“Besides taking care of the patient’s physical/medical needs during transport, which, following a trauma, always includes exposing the majority of the body to examine for bruising, swelling, etc., I learned a lot about all the additional issues this person had going on. Things got a little complicated pretty fast.

“Fortunately, I was the only paramedic in the back, so was able to eventually establish how the lady wanted to be referred to, her new name, and the other issues involved, including being homeless at that time. I was able to become an advocate for her (with the other personnel).

“It takes a lot of courage for some transgender folks to discuss things with a perfect stranger, especially when in a serious medical situation. However, it would have made things much faster for the secondary care issues, and protecting the modesty of the patient even more, if the patient had given me just a little warning initially.

“Perhaps this could be a discussion on your blog sometime.”

I’m glad that you were able to have this discussion with this individual during this time of crisis. In many cases, people are not able to speak up at all about their situation or their needs – they might be unconscious or injured to the point where communication is impossible. Or they just might be too traumatized or in too much pain to communicate much.

This is a tough one, because I know that medical personnel need as much information as possible about a patient, particularly in an emergency, so that they know the proper ways to treat that patient – and even, as you say, to protect that patient’s modesty or privacy.

And even in an emergency situation – actually, especially in an emergency situation – using the correct name and pronouns with a trans person is extremely important. It’s scary enough to be in that type of situation without experiencing any kind of prejudice or misgendering. It’s also very comforting to have an advocate, so thank you.

But sometimes, even when a person has the capability of speaking up, that person might not feel comfortable disclosing a lot of information – or might not even think about it. Here are some reasons why a trans person might not disclose personal information about his/her/hir body in an emergency situation: (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m a non-transgender pansexual woman who has been dating my friend, a male-to-female transgender person, for a few months.

“I’ve known my partner for five years and knew that she was trans for about the same amount of time but never attempted to act on my romantic feelings until recently, due to personal stuff and both of us being with other people. She is still thinking about transitioning and has yet to start hormones but definitely wants to, it’s just a matter of cost. We’re very happy together.

“I just have one problem. I come from a very strict, repressive Christian family. I’ll be heading back home for Christmas this year and want to tell my parents and siblings that I am dating my partner but am terrified. My father is the most problematic, being very opinionated and very closed to anything that doesn’t fit into his view of a proper world. He is rabidly anti-gay, opposes marriage equality and abortion rights and has barely been able to understand that I am not straight.

“How should I explain to my family that I am dating a transsexual? How do I get them to accept my partner? They’ve met him back when we were ‘just friends’ and didn’t like him that much. I am terrified that not only will there be a massive fight over Christmas dinner but that they will threaten to cut me off financially and emotionally and disown me. I’m close to my mother and grandparents. At the same time, I love my partner and don’t want to put her through the hell of that. She wont be coming with me, as she has to work.”

In certain situations, timing is everything, and based on what you’ve told me, I don’t think that this is the right time to tell them that your partner is transsexual. There’s no reason that you can’t tell them about your partner. I just don’t think this particular piece of information is essential at this particular moment in time.

It sounds as if you have a big family and a big Christmas celebration. My guess is that your grandparents and any young nieces and nephews that you have are really looking forward to this event. It’s not that I think your grandparents, nieces, and nephews shouldn’t know that your partner is trans. It’s that I think your grandparents, nieces, and nephews shouldn’t have their holiday ruined by your fanatical father having a meltdown over Christmas dinner. (more…)

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GeeseIt’s an annual tradition – my Thanksgiving coming-out poem. Hope you are having a great day.

My regular readers have likely seen this poem more times than they care to, but if you’re new, welcome to the tradition. Thanks for reading, and here we go:

 A Thanksgiving Coming Out

By Matt Kailey

There’s a holiday coming on which we give thanks
For the wonderful things in our lives.
Not cell phones or new cars or what’s in the bank,
But our partners or husbands or wives.

We think of our loved ones as we plan our trips.
To see them will be a real treat.
And we know that the question on everyone’s lips
Will be, “When the heck do we eat?”

Now I’ve been through many a Thanksgiving feast
And lived to tell the story.
I can’t really rank them from most fun to least —
They all seemed a little bit gory.

There was one at my grandmother’s house, when she said,
“Let us each say what we’re thankful for.”
But before we could answer, my drunk Uncle Ted
Was sprawled out like a dog on the floor.

Another time everyone came to my place
With their offers to get in the way.
They crowded the kitchen and took up the space,
But at clean-up, they just couldn’t stay.

Then my sis tried her hand at the family feast,
With enough food to feed twenty-one.
But her poor old dog, Rover, that ungrateful beast,
Got there first and left us with none.

So, what’s really going on here? Are you excited? I mean —

(more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a 39-year-old gay male. Ever since high school, I have geared being more like a female. It was tough when I came out as being gay. I got teased and made fun of in school. My mother accepted me being gay.

“I have tried to be a full-time male, but just was not happy with it. I drank a lot as well. A year ago I decided to start the process of transitioning. I have already decided that I am not going to have the surgery to be a full female. In other words, I’m going to leave the below parts alone, although I want to grow breasts and desire to take some hormones to obtain more fem features.

“My problem is my mother. She accepts me being gay. Today we went shopping and some people referred to me as a female, which did not bother me at all. In the car while she was driving me home, she stated I make an ugly girl. I understand that given she is my birth mother this is hard for her. She knows I want to be more like a girl but does not realize what I am doing. I am totally happy with who I am and who I will become. Just not so sure of my mother?”

One thing that can be difficult for some trans people is having to come out twice – first as a gay man or lesbian, and later as transgender. The way some people see it is similar to the boy who cried, “Wolf!” – so you said you were gay, now you say you’re trans. What are you going to say next week?

What those people don’t realize is that it is not uncommon for trans people to come out as gay or lesbian before coming out as trans. Here are some reasons that could happen:

1. In some cases, trans people don’t have the information they need to determine what it is that they are feeling. The closest thing they can come up with is that maybe they are gay or lesbian. So they come out as gay or lesbian, thinking, “This must be how all gay men and lesbians feel. What else could it be?”

When they realize that this is not how gay men and lesbians feel, and that there is a word for what they are feeling and whole communities of people with similar experiences, things finally start to make sense, and they come out as trans. Once they have a name for what they are feeling, things come together relatively rapidly, and they are finally able to understand who they are. This might be the most common scenario for trans people who have come out of gay or lesbian communities. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “Seven years ago, at the age of 60, I transitioned from male to female. At the time of my transition I decided that I wanted to be very open and out about who I am and my history. I have zero interest in trying to be stealth.

“I still feel like this is the only way for me to truly live,  to be free of that old, dank closet. I also want to change the world’s view of people like me by just allowing them to get to know me as I am and perhaps thus change their views towards all trans* people.

“My issue is that I have recently become life partners with a man who I knew pre-transition and who supported me throughout. He is divorced with two sons in their early 20s. I have been asking him for months to tell his sons about my past. He has declined, saying, ‘You’re a woman now, you look and act like a woman, your history makes no difference.’ We finally consulted his ex and she was pretty adamant that we not tell them. I have met his ex. Her thoughts are similar to my partner’s. On the other hand, my children are adamant that his sons must be told.

“We just spent an amazing  week with his sons, without incident. In fact they seemed amazingly comfortable here with us. For myself I truly do not understand how virtually everyone in the world would not quickly understand on their own that I am trans.

“More importantly for me, this is a matter of being honest and open, not having to hide, pretend, or be oh, so very careful about what I/we say/share of my past. I am not at all ashamed of who I am or where I come from. If they should google my name, they will instantly discover that we have not been forthcoming.

“So my question for you and your readers is: Do my partner’s sons deserve to know my full truth or should we continue to keep it hidden as best we can? As things stand now, I feel that there is a very large gorilla lurking in the room.”

This is going to be tough, because the “to tell or not to tell” debate could end up breaking up your relationship. I personally think that the decision to be out or not is the trans person’s alone, and that no one else should be dictating that. (more…)

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