October 11 is National Coming Out Day. I am not entirely sure it is a day for actually coming out to people, but it is a day when queer people of all types seem to share their stories of coming out, partly to educate the public, but mostly to celebrate who they are and to help those who are still in the closet to figure out how to go about leaving it, when they are ready. I remember when a group of my queer friends, gay, bi, and trans, all started sharing their stories while we were sitting around drinking coffee and drawing cartoons like we do. The question they had asked themselves was, "Do you remember the reactions of your queer friends when you came out to them?" It was a really fun conversation, and I felt honored to be able to sit there and listen to all of it. As the cis male that I thought I was at the time, I could still feel the solidarity to the degree that I felt like I was part of the group, even though I knew (er, thought) I wasn't. Nearly ten and a half years later, I got to experience my own version of one of those stories, with that very same group of friends. They were the first ones I called, once things started to become clear to me, because I was hoping that I could get good advice on finding a counselor and a doctor. We spent a lot of extra time that day hanging out and comparing stories about our experiences. It will remain one of the most special days in my whole life. The day I found my people, the Dragon People whom I had been dreaming about for decades. That was in January. There were a lot of more somber and more careful discussions with everyone else in my life after that. I wasn't just turning away from death to tentatively walk down the possible path of being trans, I was scrambling and clawing with every ounce of my desperate will to run up the cliff face of the existential hole I'd been buried in. And every single person in my life has been a vital hand hold in that struggle. And so, I came out publicly as a trans woman on Easter of this year. I have not spent a lot of time in the closet as a result. Prior to this year, it could be said that I was in the closet even to myself. My gender identity was so locked away in my subconscious that it only effected me in the most basic levels, with instincts that never matched my external identity and gender roles, and a general dysphoria that grew to critical levels of pain. But, I never really learned what it was like to consciously hide something from everyone out of fear. I mean, I did sort of work this out at fourteen. But I thought it was just sexual fantasies that were harmless and something everyone mostly kept to themselves, too. I would talk about them during lighthearted confessional conversations with close friends, and dismiss them as kinky, intellectual curiosity. So, I still listen with reverence when my gay, lesbian, or bi friends talk about their experiences. And I lean in with rapt attention when my trans friends share theirs. And I still learn from all. In many, many ways, I am still quite privileged. The most important way being that I can afford to be out to my whole community, and find myself welcomed with open arms by almost everyone in it. Most of us don't experience that. So. Being transgender has seriously dominated my life since I came out to myself. And it will continue to do so for the next year or two, as I unpack myself from the tiny mental storage box that I crammed myself into when I was small. But, it isn't the only significant way in which I am queer. I'm also, if you haven't figured it out (or read in one of my previous posts), quite gay. Not a gay man. A gay woman. A lesbian. I mean, I might be bisexual or pansexual in reality, but my excitement for women far exceeds all others right now. Actually, my interest in sexual attraction itself has increased in general since clearing up my gender issues. But, I have always known my chosen partner would be a woman, and it feels right. Gender and orientation are independent. They are linked in a semantic sense, in that if I identified as a male I would be heterosexual. But I don't, so I am not. Being attracted to women doesn't make me a guy, or even a tiny bit masculine. It makes me a real, live, proud as hell lesbian. So, there's that, too. Happy National Coming Out Day!
As I begin writing my autobiographical blog and transition journal, I find myself thinking about how being transgender has already effected my creative processes. Everybody is influenced some way by their unique identity, of course. But very few people have quite as profound of a change in perspective as a trans person who comes out to themselves later in life. I am starting on month three of my hormone therapy just two months away from my fortieth birthday. Growing older with testosterone and thinking of myself as a cis straight white male has made some indellible marks upon me, and the vestiges of that perspective and those feeling can be clearly seen in my writing and artwork. But, there are clues, signs of my subconscious trans identity as well. Things that I wasn't fully aware of until now. In fact, there are plot structures that I began weaving into my great story, the Epic of Sally, that with just a tiny tweak will become profound allegories for the trans experience, from being in the closet, to coming out, to being apart from society before and after, to the altering of perspective and growth that comes with it. But, the very direction my imagination took from when I was very young is a direct result of suffering the physical dysphoria long before I knew what it meant. I spent huge amounts of my childhood pretending to be animals other than human, to get away from the pain of simply existing. Then, I found dragons. Dragons were the answer because, in being magical, they could desguise themselves as human. So, it was possible that I really was a dragon and that I'd be able to take my true form at puberty (possibly draconic puberty, which I figured might happen as late as 40 years old...). And, most importantly, even male dragons have internal genitalia, conforming to a body configuration that felt refreshing and correct to me. At the age of eight, I emersed myself so deeply into the world of dragons, I have never been able to leave it. And every story I am working on right now is a direct development from the daydreams and imaginary friends I created in the following years. ----- This post is the public part of a greater project that I am working on. To read stories from my childhood through my transition, and to support the creation of this illustrated Autobiography of a Pacific Northwest Trans Woman, please subscribe to my Patreon, and share liberally! Thank you!