Coming Out as Transgender. Take II.

This is a slightly loose collection of thoughts.

This morning I published several unfinished blogs that I have started to write in the past. I felt that they are related to the subject at hand, and so I would publish them in their current unfinished states.

The TL:DR is at the bottom for names, pronouns and titles.


 

Last year I felt forced to out myself. I took that post down shortly after I made it, but I’ve decided today to put it back up on my blog again. No text has been changed.

I have lots of friends who have come out. I have heard lots of stories. Some of those stories have been very positive, some of those stories have been very negative. Mostly though, they got to choose when they came out and they didn’t feel pressured into having to come out before they were ready.

Well, this time I’m choosing.

There’s a clue in the name of this blog actually. Charlotte Sometimes. It’s a book by Penelope Farmer about a girl called Charlotte who goes to boarding school and finds she can travel in time back to the 1910s, swapping places with a girl called Claire. They write notes to each other and hide them in the bedpost. When she gets trapped in Claire’s time she finds it harder and harder to maintain her own identity. Except I’m not swapping places with Claire, I’m swapping places with Charlie. And I don’t time travel. And unfortunately it’s not a story about fictional characters.


There’s always alot of discussion when someone comes out as gay. And there’s even more when someone comes out as transgender. I know this, because some people in my loose circle of acquaintances have come out over the past few months.

Lets be straight (pun intended) – I’m ok with discussion. I’m not ok with negative remarks.

I’m also kind of not ok with you saying ‘it doesn’t make any difference to me’ or ‘I don’t see gender’. Saying it doesn’t matter what gender I am is like saying it doesn’t matter what colour skin I have.

Because if you really don’t see race at all, it doesn’t make much difference to the people whose livelihoods, cultures, and identities are all affected by racial inequality.

There are plenty of other people who will remind them of their race when they look for jobs and housing, when they walk down the street, or when they seek legal counsel.

My gender is important to me. It’s a large part of my identity. It affects everything from the box I tick on a government form to the way that my intimate relationships are formed.

You can’t get away from how important gender is in our society. It has touched and shaped every aspect of my life. It will continue to do so for the rest of my lifetime. To ignore my gender is to ignore the struggles that I face, the challenges that I overcome, and part of the very essence of what it means to be me.


So I guess the next thing to address is what I’m coming out as. I can guarantee that a few of my friends are thinking ‘I didn’t know you were a man!’ and a few more are thinking ‘I didn’t know you wanted to be a man!’

When we think of transgender people, we usually think of men who are transitioning to live as women. That’s kind of like, just a third of the story.

A third? You thought I was going to say half, didn’t you?

So now you’re doing the maths in your head. You’re thinking ‘well, I guess there’s those who transition from being female to being male’… and now you’re a bit lost.

So there’s the other bit of the equation. We live in a society that has adopted a bigender paradigm. That means we believe generally in two genders – female and male. And people can be those genders, they can transition between the two, and… not much else.

The problem is, what if you don’t identify as female or male?

For some time, around three years ago, I experimented with identifying as male. I did it in safe environments. I went to clubs as a man, I went on dates with a few obliging gay men, and… I felt like a fraud. I learned from this experience that I am not male.

And that’s ok. It’s ok to be not male. But the problem was that I am not female either.

So what do you do when you don’t fit into either of the options that society gives you? Well, you’re a bit fucked to be honest.

Many people support the notion that you can be ‘other’ or ‘third’ instead of male or female. I generally identify as ‘other’ – I’ve not found the right descriptive word. I don’t really like being ‘other’, so sometimes I refer to myself as ‘third gender’. But that doesn’t quite fit either. But generally I’m happy being labeled as ‘other’ and I’m happy for you to refer to me that way if you need to.

So I am transgender, and I am female to other. Not female to male, or male to female. I am female to other.


 

But I suppose I should talk about what I am not.

  • A transvestite.
  • A crossdresser.
  • Transexual.
  • A man.
  • A woman.

On that last point – many of you know me as a woman. I am not going to be upset if you refer to me that way.

And additionally – I know myself best as a woman. I refer to myself as a woman. My lived experiences have primarily been as a woman. If I refer to myself as a woman I understand what I am doing, and I am aware that it is problematic in some way. Sometimes I am discussing my lived experiences and it’s a legitimate use of the term, sometimes I’m angry because I don’t have a better word to refer to the way that I am. And sometimes I’m just participating in the ingrained bigender culture that I have been brought up with. It’s not always bad, but it’s not always good either.

Further to that note, sometimes I wear clothes that you might perceive as feminine or masculine. I’m ok with this. I wear clothes that I like. Please – instead of questioning if I’m allowed to wear certain items of clothing, or display my body in certain ways, or do something you believe is not ‘other’ – question why you feel that way.

They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes. I bought them. – Eddie Izzard

eddieIzzard


 

So I guess in a way we have to talk about bodies too.

I’ve had some minor surgery – many of you know about it. Last year I was sterilized and it was an important stage in my ‘not female’ transition. I plan to have my breasts (mostly) removed at some point in the future, but there are some hard decisions to be made about that – and also I have to save up a metric fuck-ton of money to get it done. I have no plans to have genital surgery. Not that it’s particularly any of your business, but since we’re being open here…

But I’m very happy in my body – which might come as some surprise after that last paragraph. I mean, I think I’m a bit overweight and I’d like to be more muscular, but generally I’m ok with the physical attributes I have.

Ok, that’s the body stuff out the way. For the record – I’m happy to talk about issues such as ‘top/torso’ surgery, but I’m less interested in talking about genital surgery.


 

And I suppose we need to talk names and pronouns.

I now almost completely identify as Charlie. I’m going to talk to my tutors at university in the next few weeks about officially changing my name on my records. I will also be gradually making the shift in my business too, but I expect that to take a little longer (we have a major event for work in January – I suspect I will shift fully after that). And I will be completing a deed poll.

Personal pronouns. I understand this can be difficult for people. I think I prefer them/they. I don’t mind if you slip up, I’d prefer you tried not to. I’m feeling this out – this might change in the future.

Title. I currently use Ms, I’m considering changing to Mx. Just don’t use Miss.


 

And that’s about it really.

I know I’ll get great support from my friends, so I’m not even particularly worried about publishing this post.

All I’m really asking is that you’re conscious about the way that you gender me, and that you try to avoid placing feminine stereotypes on me. Thanks.