Losing Friends and Gaining Allies

One of the scariest parts of being transgender is coming out. You just never know how people will react. There’s an unofficial guideline in the trans community that says that if you decide to transition, you will lose someone along the way. Some people lose everyone. I got off easy.

I came out in stages. I started dropping hints, as many do, before i actually told anybody. I would post articles on Facebook and comment on trans issues, and try to gauge reactions. I had already started growing my hair out, and I shaved off the beard I had had literally since I could grow one. And then, around the first of December, 2013, I slaved over a letter trying to explain who I was and what that meant. I gave it to a select few who I thought would be receptive, and tried to build a support network. I sent the letters off, and waited, feeling like the character in the movie Office Space after he slipped the confession of embezzlement under his boss’s door and instantly regretted it. I didn’t sleep much that night.

And the responses came, all support.

But two notable exceptions bothered me. My mother asked several times if I was gay. My brother told me I could do whatever made me happy, but he wouldn’t use my name. And then asked what I was “going to do with my junk.” Two no-no’s when conversing with a trans person. Or any person, really.

But I was officially starting to transition. I put my hair in pigtails, bought skinny jeans from the women’s department, and put pink laces on my shoes.

Over 6 months later I came out officially on Facebook and changed my name. Support came from everywhere. I lost one friend under the guise of god’s plans. Good riddance. As time went on, another good friend slowly started talking to me less and less. That one hurt a little more. But before I started, I decided that anyone who didn’t accept me could remove themselves from my life. Transition is hard enough without that drama.

But I also gained an unlikely ally. A girl who I treated badly in high school (who deserved absolutely none of the stress I put on her) became my biggest online ally. And for that I am deeply grateful.

I’m still not totally out. I’m still weighing the pros and cons of coming out at work, and deciding when and if I should at all (though I’m pretty sure they have their suspicions). My extended family also doesn’t know, and I am worried about that. Somehow I don’t think showing up to Thanksgiving dinner in a dress would be appropriate. But that hurdle comes later.

I don’t dress fully feminine either yet. Skinny jeans and hoodies make me look more androgynous than feminine, but I’ll talk more about my presentation and transitioning in the public eye in a later post.

Transition is hard, but supportive people make it easier. So until next time, thanks for helping me keep fighting like a grrrl.

– Natalie

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