What is coming out for transsexual and transgender people?
Is it telling the world that we are transsexual or transgender when that so often contradicts what we are about?
My friend, Shirley Bushnell, in Los Angeles was a fierce public advocate, always wearing a “Transgender Menace” t-shirt. Always in your face about it. One night at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center we were kidding around and I stood behind her sort of hiding myself.
Because the reality was I was willing to do the work, passing out leaflets, speaking out at safe LGBT/T events, writing articles, collecting petition signatures and all that.
I said, “I’m behind you every step of the way.”
But I never wanted to be the “public face”.
I only wore my “Transsexual Menace” t-shirt to demonstrations and events, not as daily wear.
But I have a different take on “coming out” for TS/TG people. A more private one.
We came out when we transitioned and started living our lives 24/7/365 in spite of the hatred and bigotry.
We are who we are. What is there to come out about?
Maybe if it serves a purpose. Maybe if it is an act of trust and intimacy, an act of close friendship.
Or a political statement.
But the reality is I am a woman now and a lesbian, a far more obvious aspect of my life as part of the alphabet soup of queerdom.
If I don’t seem more celebratory today. Too many suicides the last few days for me to feel witty or even bitchy.
October 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm
I’m not convinced the model of “coming out”, inherited from gay and lesbian people, as so much of our terminology is, really apples to transsexual people–regardless of their sexual orientation–who are not ALSO transgender.
Most gay and lesbian people, and certainly bisexual people, I know, except for those who are also transgender, one wouldn’t know they are gay or lesbian unless they are walking down the street hand in hand with their boyfriend/partner, if gay, and girlfriend/partner if lesbian.
Though transsexual people, certainly most early in their change of sex, and many throughout their lives, simply have to walk down the street to be “noticed”–and suffer the consequences; they are usually called ‘gay.’ Call this adding insult to injury.
There is also the possibly small question, which you allude to Suzan, about being the woman (or man) you have always struggled to be (and may not even be lesbian or gay).
I understand the proposition that the more of us who are “out” (on the gay model) the safer it is for all of us. But “out” as what? A woman. I’m not sure how that translates into photo op or newsworthyness.
Nor will I permit myself to be presented as some kind of gender radical, simply because I changed my sex! The argument that I am not now the sex I was assigned when I was born so I am transgender; this repudiates the sex I am now, and consequently transphobic.
After five years of maintaining the Ottawa Trans Day of Remembrance, the transgender activists have, without a general callout, taken over this year’s event, renamed it the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and launched a Transgender March.
This same group of people, a number of years ago, were willing to call it the Trans-Transgender Day of Remembrance, somehow taking my compromise of using Trans as capitulation from the term Transsexual–which they would not permit.
I am neither a crossdresser, nor a drag queen, though there is nothing wrong or politically incorrect with either; it just seems that being who I am is so boring, being NOT a performance, not as these activists seem to be: I don’t return to a masculine personna on top of a permanent male sexuality.
I changed my sex; I have never explored gender. Nor do I do that now.
What titillating effect does “coming out” as a woman have?
October 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm
For transsexuals coming out is the act of seeking the help one needs to transition. There is a difference between coming out and “being out”.
Coming out is also the act of telling friends and family one is transsexual and needs to transition.