Passing Privilege and the Need to Be Out

days2 copyEarly in my transition I had the opportunity that I had never had when I simply thought of myself as a gay man. Because I have passing privilege (which is to say I look like a cisgender woman) I had the option of being able to be closeted about my gender identity. Nobody had to know that I was trans, because I didn’t ‘look’ what everyone seemed to decide trans people looked like. I have never been masculine in my appearance which is perhaps part of the reason that in being a ‘gay man’ I was pretty out as soon as I was old enough to have any inclination about my own sexuality. The idea that I could possibly not be gay was never something that occurred to people mostly because I was so effeminate. This is, I should add, not a particularly fair way to judge anyone’s sexuality, but it was a fact of my life. Because of this overt femininity, I don’t really think it came as much of a surprise to most who knew me when I finally announced that I was in fact transgender, not simply a gay man. My coming out to close friends and family was fairly easy because they already saw me as more female than male anyway.

But in the beginning, I was scared. I didn’t know how people would take it, and I knew what was at stake if the wrong person discovered that I was trans. I could possibly lose my job or not get hired in the first place at that time, I could lose friends, I had heard the horror stories often, and I knew exactly what was on the table for me. So, I kept quiet about it for a long time, mostly because as I told myself often, it was nobodies business what I was doing. I wasn’t dating at the time, and I certainly wasn’t in any kind of other romantic type situation so in that respect I was fine. But I wasn’t really happy being silent. It wasn’t the freedom of coming out that I had felt in the early stages. I was transitioning sure, but I was trapped in others perceptions of me, and my fear that I could never really reveal certain facts about myself. Talking about your childhood is significantly more difficult when you must be careful not to talk about ever having been, not who you are at this very moment.

It’s exhausting and frankly, after a year and a half of it, I was fed up.

One thing I’ve come to realize during my transition, is that being able to pass isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s unfair to force any person to fit a certain standard of cisgender beauty, less they be ostracized, but the truth is, even when you fit that standard, now you have a different set of problems. I decided that it was an important enough issue that I would blog openly about it, and if people who knew me should find my blog they would know I was transgender. But I also decided to set parameters on who I would tell and in what circumstances. There were certain people who didn’t need to know, friends however, new ones in particular, as well as any possible love interest, were in my opinion people who absolutely needed to know. Everyone else would be on a case by case basis, depending on if it came up at some point.

It’s not that I’m being secretive about it anymore, obviously anyone in the world can see this blog, but it also isn’t something I’m just going to actively share with every person I meet. It would be a little awkward to say ‘I’m trans’ if someone’s question was simply, how’s it going today?

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