I came out for the first time in the summer of 2004, when I admitted to my cousin that I had a terrific crush on one of the drum majors. I later admitted this crush to my younger sister, who also participated in marching band, and to my Aunt B, who also is gay.
In 2006, I received an e-mail message from college giving me details about my new roommate, a girl named E. She e-mailed me the following day, introducing herself. It took me two days to reply because I agonized over whether or not to tell her that I was gay. Part of me said that it wasn’t necessary. My over-active imagination, however, came up with numerous scenarios that would probably go a lot more smoothly if she knew. In the end, I told her. She had no problem with it.
Over the semester break of that year, I made plans to tell my parents. I was so nervous about telling them, I actually sent them e-mails requesting that we talk when they got home from work one night, which led to two very worried phone calls that day. Later that evening, when we talked, both were completely fine with the facts I gave them, although they did say that in future I might want to think about my delivery.
The summer of 2007 was a big milestone, because I finally discussed with my doctor the fact that I felt like I should have been born a boy. Dr S was very supportive, and together we discussed possible courses to take for my Transition.
I talked to my sister before heading back to school. She confided that she’d spent the last few years stopping herself from introducing me as her brother. Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore. She did ask my permission to tell some of her friends and teachers who had known me, and I said to go ahead.
During the first month of my sophomore year, I came out a lot. I talked with Res Life, and with their help explained things to the girls whom I lived with. (I didn’t have a roommate, but did live on the girls’ side of a floor.) I wrote a letter to each of my professors, expressing my wish to be addressed using male pronouns. I made a point of telling all of my friends, and they were great about making the switch. I spent my weekly counseling sessions working out a way to tell my parents.
In late September, I told Mom and Dad. It didn’t go well. I had hoped that they would be as accepting of this new me as they had been of the fact that I am attracted to girls. Instead, my memories of this conversation are mostly of Mom saying things like, “How do you know this?” and , “You can’t be.”
Back at school, I continued to come out. At the start of every semester, I would again send a letter to each new professor, expressing my wishes for how I wanted to be addressed and referred to. Several times over the course of those remaining three years, I ran into people I had known in high school, and would explain things to them.
During semester and summer breaks, I worked at two jobs in my hometown. Initially, I didn’t out myself at either place; later, I learned that many of my coworkers thought that I was a guy, anyway. Much to my mother’s displeasure, I also began the process of coming out to my extended family.
Senior year at college brought several major coming out milestones. With my mom finally on board with my Transition, I wrote a letter to Grandma M, Mom’s stepmother, who lives in Greece. Given that Grandma was raised in a time and place (early 20th century Egypt) that is completely foreign to me, I was a little nervous about how she would take the news. About a month later, I received a letter from her: She is extremely proud of me for being myself.
Senior year of college also meant graduate school applications. Two of these applications asked for essays that would demonstrate my ability to stick to a seemingly impossible task, and one school asked for an essay on how I would contribute to a diverse student population. While I wasn’t sure how “out” I would be once in grad school, I saw no reason not to use my Transition and my identity as a transman as the subject of these essays.
The other major milestone from senior year was that I fell hard for a girl in one of my classes. We became fast friends, and spent as much time together as our respective busy schedules would allow. I finally came out to her about two months after we met, because I wanted to share with her the news that I would be starting testosterone therapy. Not only was she the first girl I’d had a crush on since I started Transitioning, she also was the first girl I ever told about my feelings for her. She didn’t reciprocate, but to this day we remain good friends.
Attending graduate school for education, and knowing how conservative that field can be, I opted to go stealth while earning my master’s degree. The program administrators knew, because they had access to my paperwork, but they agreed to support me in my decision. During the year of the program, I only came out to a couple of my professors and classmates; everyone else involved in the program saw me as just another guy.
Following graduate school, I became a substitute teacher for two school districts, including the district where I grew up. This presented a challenge, as many of the people I now worked with had been fellow students or my teachers at one point. Some didn’t recognize me at all; others would do a double take. No one ever said an unkind word to me, though. When I landed a long-term sub job in the district where I student taught, I went back to living stealth (an experience I wrote about in my first post).
Last August, I started at my current job for a local university. To my surprise, I discovered that a coworker had been one of my lab partners in college, which meant that she knew about my past. She’s always been supportive of me, and agreed to follow my lead when it came to if/when I chose to come out to our coworkers. For Coming Out Day 2012, I came out to my boss and a couple of other coworkers. By now, about half of the people that I work with know that I am trans, and it doesn’t bother them one bit.
Someone recently asked me, “Why do you still come out? I mean, you look like a normal guy. No one who passed you on the street would know.” I continue to come out because it is still important. Our culture is still learning just how diverse human beings can be. In ten years, I’ve taught somewhere between 20 and 50 people this lesson. I wonder how many I can teach in the next ten years.