I was only a little surprised this past Sunday when Cole, my roommate, said, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” Somehow, I instantly knew what the question would be. “I’ve noticed a couple of things, like the empty hormone bottles in the garbage can, and your scars, and then there’s some of the comments you made when we talk about stuff, and I’m starting to feel like there’s this elephant in the room, and I don’t want you to be uncomfortable–”
I could have let him ramble on, but I didn’t. Instead, I confirmed the truth he figured out on his own: The fact that I am transgender. What followed was a very open, honest conversation. Even with his open-minded attitude and honest curiosity, I still felt my hands shaking throughout the course of the discussion; even when the other party is supportive, coming out is never easy.
Some people may wonder why I bothered confirm Cole’s suspicions, or why I answered all of his questions about my experiences. After all, aren’t trans-identified individuals entitled to the same privacy as the cisgender population? Why do we have to live our lives under the microscope to satiate society’s curiosity?
To paraphrase, I have a dream that one day, the children of this world will be judged not by the color of their skin, not by who they love, not by their sex or gender, but by the content of their character. To get to that day, though, will take a lot of work. It will take individuals willing to tell their stories, to share their experiences, to make these tales commonplace enough that the general public no longer views us as something unusual. Maybe I’m expressing it badly, but you get the point. I’ve always viewed myself as an educator, and if educating people today means that in the future kids like me can grow up without being constantly subjected to that scrutiny, then it’s worth it.
So I had that talk with Cole. My motives weren’t entirely altruistic; after all, I’d known about the elephant in the room before he did, and I slept better that night than I have since I moved here. Slowly but surely, I’m building a support network here. Cole is now the fourth person up here that knows all about me. None of them have stopped talking to me, none of them have run away. Maybe, just maybe, that world I dream about is just a little bit closer.