National Coming Out Day: Realizing I’m Not Invisible
Lit up Facebook this morning and realized yesterday was apparently National Coming Out Day. The biggest irony is that I was born the year this day was founded. Interesting timing, considering last week I took a trip out to Arizona to see my father’s family, and reunite with my father in longer than I care to think about. I’d come out to Facebook, I’d come out to my blog followers (some of which are my cousins, apparently, so shout out!) but I never came out to him. He doesn’t use Facebook, and our subconscious does silly things when trying to gauge others’reactions to something as deeply ingrained as the fact that you’re transgender.
So, when you’ve got two parents, and one doesn’t take it well, you assume the other won’t either.
That didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite did.
First, a bit of background. My parents are divorced, and it wasn’t one of those “nice” divorces where the parents get along for the sake of the children after the fact. I don’t have all the details, and won’t bore you with the ones I do have. Suffice it to say, Dad ended up moving back to Arizona (we were in Michigan) and I pulled away from both my parents at different points.
Lately I’ve been attempting to reconnect with both myself as a person, and with them. As happens, it doesn’t always go as well as I imagine, but this time, it went better than my imagination could have conjured. So here it is.
Coming Out to My Dad
In the first place, I didn’t have to force the conversation. It just happened at some point about halfway through last week. And he listened. Just listened. Just like I’d nearly forgotten he always did. He looked stunned, but who wouldn’t in his position, really? Then Friday night after dinner we were talking again, Dad, me, my sister, and he asked how I was doing.
I finally told him I’d been burying anxiety all week.
“You know you never have to do that around me.”
I nodded, and then explained how being referred to in the feminine all week had been difficult. To those reading this who would cry micro-aggression, I hadn’t seen most of these folks in 20+ years. They remembered a six-year-old who was still trying to figure out how to express it without getting in trouble from other forces in life. I wasn’t going to spend all week being a twit about pronouns, I was determined to enjoy time with my family.
And for the record, one of my cousins greeted me as Raidon the first time she saw me – Thanks, Cuz! – and completely caught me off guard with it.
So I swallowed as much discomfort as I could, and most of the time, it was alright, because one thing that side of the family has down is a large measure of unconditional love. In fact, I told both my aunts and one of my uncles about my situation as well, and the conversations went exceedingly well.
Back to Dad, though, Friday night, he asked for some further clarification on what goes on in my head, and I explained it to him in what’s become my standard. My body is female. As far as I can tell, my spirit is as well. And my brain doesn’t care to hear it. I’m a guy. So, I’m a transman. He told me he can’t promise consistency, especially at first, because after all, I’m his daughter, and that’s how he’s seen me for 28 years, but five minutes later, he said something to my sister about me.
“You’ll always be HIS sister.”
Yeah, I teared up, and also launched out of the chair to hug him.
Taking Off the Invisibility Cloak
Even if you’ve not read Harry Potter, invisibility is a familiar concept, I’m sure. Sometimes, it’s quite handy. Let’s face it, if you’re a secret agent and need to infiltrate a place, doing so invisible may be a lot easier. Sometimes, though, invisibility is a curse. Imagine Harry Potter trying to save the world with the Invisibility Cloak glued on.
People would think they were crazy, or he was a ghost, and thus not the Boy Who Lived. In my experience, it’s similar for trans* and gender-nonconforming people. We disappear. I don’t particularly blame anyone for this. After all, when you’ve only ever known the idea of men and women and that’s based on a cursory visual examination at birth, such concepts are completely foreign. They were to me, especially when I first came out to myself and started to unbury the transman under the woman’s mask.
Yet I’m still seeing that nudge towards invisibility in society at large. It’s a cloak I’ve done my best to shed, since it helps no one. To present as someone I’m not and have never perceived myself as is dishonest and lacking in integrity, at least in my own personal code.
Coming out and transitioning socially was my way of shedding the Invisibility Cloak of gender, but I’ve realized there’s more to it. Since this post is creeping up on 900 words, I’ll save the more for tomorrow.
Lastly, any of my readers with questions for me, about anything, leave them in the comments. After all, we never learn if we never question.