April 10, 2014

Catching Up and Coming Out

The last month has been something of a whirlwind. My dad’s death pulled me away from work at a very busy time, made busier by a project I was involved in, and I’ve been rushing to keep up ever since. On top of that, I have been making preparations to move back into the house I own now that my ex has moved out of it and in with her new husband. Additionally, there’s been my usual role as a parent, of course, and a schedule change at work that has eaten up a second evening every week. Life isn’t bad, but it’s definitely challenging at the moment.

Oh, and on top of that, I came out fully to everyone outside of work. Which is kind of a big deal.

After returning from my dad’s funeral, I had a fresh perspective on my identity (not to mention a fresh haircut that is more difficult to pass off as anything less than androgynous). If I could be accepted by people who loved me in a difficult moment like a funeral, than what was I still hiding from the people in my everyday life who still didn’t know about my identity? So I resolved to change that. It’s hard enough having to flip the gender switch between work and home; but having to continually switch it on and off all weekend and every evening depending upon who I might see was becoming burdensome. It was time to own my Self; it was time to be Alison all the time.

The key events were the reveals to my two gaming groups. [Well, really my one-and-a-half gaming groups, since half of us are part of both groups.] These are the groups that I used to refer to as “Ericas gaming groups,” because I came to them through her (and because she really is the Queen Mother of our D&D table [in a good way]). But I think after nearly a year of friendship AND the revealing of my gender identity, I can safely claim them as my groups. And on both nights the “big reveal” went just fine. Things were given as a combination of face-to-face telling and email. Reactions ranged mainly between “Explain what transgender means, again?” to “We’ll do our best, but we’ll probably make mistakes.” And there have been a few mistakes, mostly in the pronoun area; and sometimes I am slow to respond to Alison (still not used to hearing it spoken out loud); but overall we’re playing like we always do. The dice continue to roll.

I’m also starting to feel confident in using my real name in interactions with strangers, sometimes. For example, I ordered a pizza and when they asked for a name I said, perhaps a little dodgy, “Put it under ‘Alison.'” I used similar phrasing when I picked it up (“It should be under ‘Alison'”). Okay, so it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. I was dressed for work and being sir-ed, so I wasn’t going to push it.

Speaking of work, there’s been a positive development there as well, but I am going to save that for the next post. 😉

The night that I came out to the last of my gaming friends — which just happened to be Transgender Day of Visibility — left me feeling unusual. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the feelings I had as I sent that last email. I had, in effect, told everyone. There was no one left to be nervous about; no one left to react badly; no one left to reject me or to hurt me over this. At least, no one important; there are always strangers, but if I were worried about the reaction of every random dudebro or conservative Christian on the street I would never have stepped out in a skirt in the first pace. As far as people who mattered, I was done. I was out. I was me.

I was also lucky. Apparently, I have been able over the years to surround myself with good people; and as such I have not been hated, rejected, insulted, or assaulted by those who matter. I know that this isn’t a common experience in the transgender community. There are heartwrenching stories out there about men and women who have lost everything to the transition, who no longer have friends or lovers or parents because they chose to be themselves. I have not been one of those women — so far! It may come. At this point, though, I’m prepared to handle it.

The feeling I had that night, I realized after a moment, was a feeling of relief. Relief that I wasn’t hiding anymore; relief that there was no one left to tell; relief that I was finally starting to be me. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt such relief in all my life.

No more hiding, no more lies. I’m out, I’m happy, and I’m moving ever so slowly towards the Self I have denied myself for long. Relief? You bet.

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