Tag Archives: Coming out

coming out is hard

i get a lot of messages about coming out. specifically, some of you cats seem really concerned about coming out the “right” way in order to scare away as few people as possible. (this isn’t going to be a reprimand or anything; i’m just gonna address all of you at once.). i get why you might think it’s vitally important to come out a certain way, but shit doesn’t work like that, imo.

like some of you, i’ve spent a fuck-ton of time beating my ass for not coming out better. i used to think if only i’d come out more politely, more coherently, more gracefully, more (insert adverb), maybe my partner’s family wouldn’t have responded to my coming out by ostracizing my partner and i. if only i’d been a better trans* person, maybe they would’ve responded with acceptance and support.

but i’m calling shenanigans on that shit.

coming out never goes well. it’s never perfect. Imagedoing it “right” won’t magically make the people you come out to discover how un-asshole-like they really are. if they’re assholes, there’s nothing you can say that’ll transform them into respectful, supportive people. if they’re not assholes, the most awkward/tense/incoherent coming-out in the whole fucking world isn’t going to transform them into assholes.

so chill, if you can. if you can’t chill, that’s ok. coming out can be really hard even when you figure it’s technically safe to do so; don’t be surprised if you can’t be laid back about it.

but also don’t be surprised when your well-rehearsed coming out speech comes out all fucked up. most folks are nervous or plain scared when they come out; no wonder so few of us manage to utter exactly the words we’ve planned on.

and we have a lot to be nervous/scared about. there’s a lot of stigma attached to being queer (i’m including transness in queerness), especially for those of us who face multiple oppressions. so if your guts get all twisted up every time you come out, even after you’ve come out multiple times, that’s fucking fine. really.

anyone who rejects you as a trans*/asexual/bisexual/fabulous person cuz you were nervous and/or awkward when you came out is a fucking asshole.  it’s not your job to come out gracefully, tactfully, and coherently while doing ballet and reciting shakespeare. just coming out is enough.

actually, since many people don’t have the luxury of coming out, just existing is enough. coming out is a fucking radical act all on it’s own, no pyrotechnics (ex. being coherent and polite) required. even living in this world as an oppressed person is radical; you’re already doing your bit.

k? i get that feels are complicated and you can’t just force yourself to stop obsessing over your past /future coming out experiences, but just know that you deserve respect (and cupcakes!) no matter how (or if) you come out. you are fucking awesome: awkwardness, nervousness, incoherence and all.

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feel free to share coming out stories, not-coming out stories, feelings around coming out, etc. please don’t talk about coming out as inevitable or necessary, though, cuz some people don’t want to come out (or can’t); please be mindful of that. thanks!

also, zillions of thanks to south carolina boy for helping me stop blaming myself when the people i come out to reject me. <33333333 cuz you wrote something in a comment or an email (this was months ago) and the meaning behind it just lies along my bones and radiates awesome. yay!

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every day is coming out day for someone wearing a gender tag

it’s true, cats.  i field questions about my gender and my pronouns almost every day, mostly cuz of my totally rad gender tag.  yay!  so coming out day (yesterday) wasn’t really a big deal to me.  still, here’s a belated coming out day post cuz coming out day is rad.  huzzah!

k.  so i guess i should share some coming out stories, right?  k.

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coming out at school:

so i came out as a nonbinary trans* person at school this year by sending this email to my teachers in september.  i was fucking terrified the whole time i was writing the email, my sweetheart had to make sure i hit “send” rather than just deleting the email, and i was nervous nigh unto pissing myself for weeks.

i only received one reply via email, but it was a pretty awesome reply.  basically, my teacher said he’d do his best and he advised me to just correct him when he fucked up.  that was fucking rad cuz i happen to give a shit about his opinion.  he’s one of those people who seem kind and safe and who are fun to have conversations with, so i was actually really worried about what i’d do if he got all weird on me.  but he didn’t, so yay!  a couple days ago, i talked to this same teacher about nonbinary gender.  it went really well; he asked some questions, said some interesting stuff, and said he’d keep working on it.  he’s getting pretty good at not misgendering me and i’m stoked.

my private lessons teacher (everyone in the music program takes private lessons at school) didn’t reply to my coming out email, but we’ve been talking about pronouns and he’s been trying really hard.  which is fucking rad cuz i wouldn’t be able to spend another year taking private lessons from someone who didn’t respect my gender and my pronouns.

some of my other teachers have been awkward around me, but at least nothing really bad has happened.  also, lots of students notice my gender tag and are cool about it.  coming out as nonbinary at school has been pretty splendid.

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coming out to my family:

so i came out to my family last year.  my mom was all like, “what about your (presumed heterosexual) partner?  she was weird about it til she watched this video and (i shit you not) came around immediately.  she fucks my pronouns up sometimes, but she’s getting much better.  plus, she corrects other people!  and that’s just neon.

my dad doesn’t count cuz he’s outta my life (i can’t believe he’s just letting me walk away; it’s too good to be true).

my sister moved across the world and is mostly outta my life (for now?), but she took it pretty well.  also, my little nephew, who is more awesome than space ninja dinosaurs, stopped calling me auntie ____ and made up a non-gendered name for me.  yay!  (i fucking miss that kid with all my bones and salt.)  so my sister either had a hand in getting her kid to stop calling me auntie ____ or she at least supported my nephew’s decision to do so.  so victory and yay.

i haven’t come out to my grandmothers.  one of them can’t grasp that i’m even queer (i’ve come out as queer to her at least 3 times and she keeps “forgetting”), but i should probably talk to the other one.  also, the grandmother who can’t understand basic queerness pays my tuition.  i’ll let you know how it goes with the other one, though.

my partner’s family didn’t take it very well.  i came out to them last xmas by passing out sheets of paper with brief explanations of nonbinary gender on them.  some of them widened their eyes, puffed out their cheeks, and never acknowledged me again.  one of them explained how very ok with it she was– and then never really spoke to me again.

it’s ok, though, cuz i removed my awesome self from that toxic situation.  except now my sweetheart is on uneasy terms with his side of the family and that’s not cool.  but they were assholes anyway.  but i still feel bad.  bleh.

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at work:

cats, i work for my mom.  i’m cheating, basically.  i used to work for someone else and i was worried she’d fire me for being trans*, but my mom bought the business and is now my boss.  so i’m cheating cuz that’s one fewer person to come out to.  also, i have no co-workers.

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tl;dr i’m out to basically everybody and i expect the people in my life to try to get my pronouns right.  some people are assholes, but some people are awesome.

also, coming out is a fucking privilege and not everyone is in a position to do so.  not everyone even wants to come out.  either way, we’re pretty splendid cats.

(what a shitty post.  i hope nobody reads it.  maybe i’ll fix it in the morning when i’m not sleepy.  maybe i’ll leave it here so my next mediocre post will seem spectacular by comparison.  maybe i’ll like this post when i reread it in the morning**.  am going to sleep now.)

**i don’t.  this post is still poorly written.  i’m gonna leave it that way, though, cuz lazy.

i have a gender tag! (it’s like a name tag for my gender.)

and it looks like this:

i wear it whenever i go out in public; to work, to the grocery store, to the park, etc.  it’s pretty fucking awesome; it makes me feel honest cuz if people care to look, my gender is written right on my fucking chest.  well, actually it’s written on a white sticker stuck to my chest, but you know what i mean.

when people DO misgender me (and they always do), i can point to my gender tag.  i can say stuff like, “my pronouns are singular they/them/their.  please see my gender tag.”  i feel less like i’m hiding behind a facade of cis-ness and more like i’m just doing mx. punk.

sometimes i have rad conversations with strangers because of my gender tag.  this one time at work, a middle aged woman was like, “oh my god!  i’ve been laughing at a young person in my family for saying they were genderqueer!  i totally thought they were making it up; i’m gonna go call them right now!”  she even came back the next week to talk some more about non-binary gender and to tell me that her genderqueer family member was being taken a bit more seriously.  honestly, i had no idea my gender tag would help anyone other than me– but i’m pretty excited that one less person is being ostracized and laughed at because of my li’l old gender tag.

sometimes i have uncomfortable conversations with people because of my gender tag.  i had a customer at work invite me to their church while eying my gender tag.  they also told me drugs were bad (i’ve never even tried drugs, tbh) and that god made men and women in his image.  lulz.

sometimes my gender tag scares me.  like when i’m going someplace new or when i’m working at a wedding or a party (as opposed to when i’m working in a tiny consignment store).  i see people staring at my tag and i get nervous.  i don’t know what i’m scared of, but my heart works a little harder when i know someone’s reading my gender tag.

mostly, though, i’m really stoked about my gender tag.  it’s a rad conversation-booter and it sorta alleviates my social dysphoria.

do you experience social dysphoria and if so, how do you deal with it in the presence of strangers?  talk to me, please!

i’m a conversation-crashing alien with rad eyestalks!

“People treating me like an alien is one thing, but treating me normal and still making me feel like an alien is depressing as hell.” —alexthesane (read original post)

when someone calls you a pervert because they think you’re in the wrong bathroom, you get to make the next move and serve up some enlightenment.  you get to be like, “actually, cat, it’s like this…”

when someone knows that you’re trans and they’re not diggin’ it, you get to have a sweet little heart-to-squishy-heart and figure it out.  even if it goes badly, well, maybe they’ll come ‘round one day as long as you’re polite about it.

when someone is treating you like an alien, you get to make a move, right?

but what about when you’re surrounded by people who think you’re a man?  or a woman?  like alexthesane, i totally think that’s worse than being treated like an alien by someone you’ve already come out to.

when some waiter gives you the pink mug cuz you have tits and gives your tit-less partner the blue mug (a pattern you notice throughout the room)— ew.  the waiter walks away and you don’t want to make a scene or leave a smaller tip because the waiter had no way of knowing that you wouldn’t be ok with his and hers mugs.

when a customer at my workplace (kids’ retail) refers to the shark board game they’re buying as a “boys’ game”, it’s not really ok for me to call them on it.  i mean, they just want to buy a toy for their kid, not hear about gender stereotypes as social constructs.  it’s a little thing, but it makes me crazy.  it makes me feel like i’m not really standing up for myself and it makes me feel guilty, like i’m admitting that the gender binary is the great i am.

these little things are neon-lame because they’re based on the assumption that i’m a hetero cis person, but they’re so trivial that i can’t stand up for myself without going overboard.  bigger things are also based on the assumption that i’m a hetero cis person, but they’re so big that they leave room for me to protest.

i used to be more shy about coming out on the fly (middle of a conversation about, say, fair trade chocolate) than i am these days.  i’m pretty much erring on the side of weirdness/interruptiveness/outness.

like, when someone calls me a young lady or girl or whatever, i often just crash in with “ima’notta girl!”  or “no gendered pronouns, please!”  stranger, teacher, friend— they all get interrupted when they apply the wrong pronouns to me or something.  and then the conversation is totally destroyed and the person totally thinks i’m rude for interrupting— and insane for fucking with their world-view.  i always end up worrying that they don’t give a shit about my gender identity and that it’s silly of me to impose on them.  which is still more fun than quietly keeping myself in the closet.

except for sometimes, like at work.  i don’t wanna get fired for weirding everybody out.

i wouldn’t rather be treated like an alien than like a woman or a man because i think aliens are superior to men and women, although i would love to have tentacles.  it’s just that i feel like i need to do my part to spread my truth around.  if i come out and people treat me like an alien because of it, well, i tried.  but if i don’t even try, i’m not doing myself (or other non-binary people) any favors.

so, yeah.  treat me like a scaly alien with tentacles and rad eyestalks— ok.  that’s fine.  i love tentacles and tentacle hentai.  (bite me.)  just don’t treat me like a woman or a man.

what do you people think?  what do you do when someone makes some totally casual and innocent remark that implies you don’t exist?  do you risk derailing the conversation by coming out?  do you let it glide away?

today i will totally do stuff (like come out)

my partner is just fucking plasmic.

he seems to really accept my gender (or absence thereof) and to understand that the gender binary is a social construct that doesn’t work for everybody.  we have casual confabulations about gender expression, gender identity, and trans issues.  my partner hasn’t called me his girlfriend in ages; he calls me his partner.  he tries with all his furry might to apply non-gendered pronouns to me.

my partner still snags on the pronoun thing.

when he tells me silly stories about us in the third person, he generally calls me “it”.  i guess he’s ok with calling me “it” when he’s being silly, but he won’t call me “it” when he’s being solemn.  i don’t mind being called “it”.  i think the word is so jarring that it makes it harder to use feminine pronouns by accident, if that makes any sense to you.

we’ve been experimenting with the “ze/zer” pronoun set with some success.  the trouble with it is that you have to over-enunciate the words in order to make them sound different than feminine pronouns.  mostly, though, “ze” is fabulous.  my partner is getting better about using my name or “ze” instead of feminine pronouns and i’m veryvery stoked that he’s as supportive as he is.

when my partner is chatting to someone other than me, however, he usually uses feminine pronouns.  like if someone says, “how’s mx. punk? is she still looking for work?”  it’s understandable that my partner might say, “she’s happy and awesome— except for the part about looking for work.”

it isn’t that my partner thinks of me as a female— i know that.  i know he respects my gender and i know he tries veryvery hard to avoid applying feminine pronouns to me.  it’s just that other people trick him into applying feminine pronouns to me.

still, that’s pretty good for a cis man who only knows one person of non-binary gender and who grew up believing that the gender binary had the last word in everything.  actually, that’s pretty good for ANYbody— i know a few queers who aren’t half as understanding as he is.  i know i’m lucky to have such a supportive partner.

i want more.  is that greedy?  i want my partner to suddenly stop with the feminine pronouns.  i want to be out as genderqueer.  not out as in telling people when it’s appropriate, but out as in being instantly recognized by strangers for what i am.  i want people to know what i mean when i come out to them as genderqueer.  sometimes, this closet is stifling.

i know this culture doesn’t really leave space for non-binary gender and i know that isn’t going to change anytime soon.  i totally accept that.  really, i do.

i think my discontent may be more about the times i haven’t come out when i could’ve and less about whether or not my partner occasionally calls me a girl or whether strangers assign me a binary gender.  i think i would feel less stifled if i tried harder to be heard/seen/felt.

i need to come out to more people.  i need to speak up for myself a little more often than i do.  sure, sometimes it just isn’t appropriate, but why haven’t i come out to my landlady?  she would be cool about it and she’s like family to me, so why haven’t i told her?  why haven’t i come out to any of my teachers?  why do i let so many people who might be down with my gender just see me as something i ain’t?

this has gotta change.  now.  today i will not stand by while people make erroneous assumptions about my gender.  today i will totally do stuff.

tomorrow, too.

update (june 26, 2011)

i came out to my landlady a few days ago— and she said, “i know, mx. punk”.  dude!  she said she didn’t know that i cared about pronouns, but that she’d already picked up on my otherness.  she didn’t think i was female!  she said so!  and now she’s calling me a person instead of calling me a girl!  holy flying caterpillars!

i’m too excited to even type properly hjdfhjdsf7bhfjfffd!!!!!!

update (two minutes later)

oh, yeah.  a flying caterpillar isn’t really that absurd.  i mean, if the caterpillar waits awhile it’ll grow up to be a butterfly.  fuck.  ok, so pretend i wrote, “holy flying porcupines” instead.  ok?  ok.

update (two seconds later)

porcupines don’t fly, right?  am i right?