Coming Out

I first needed the words.  I’d always known something was different for me.  I never fit in my own body.  I never wanted the role assigned to me.  I didn’t have the words to understand these feelings until grad school.  By then it felt too late.  I felt like I’d wasted my twenties being someone I wasn’t.  I danced around the topic and took a ridiculous amount of time to discover the ideas I was pursuing were about me.  Gender, embodiment, feminist, masculinity.  I read Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam and applied it to texts, but it took longer to apply it to myself.

Many argue that the humanities serve no function.  I deeply disagree.  Studying all these topics gave me words to describe myself and come to terms with my identity.  For instance, I knew trans women existed through media, but I didn’t know about trans men until I happened to attend a talk by a trans man at a gender conference at my university.  It changed my life.  I had all these words floating in my head, but until that moment, I didn’t embrace them.  Sitting, listening to him talk about bathroom bills and the murders of trans women of color, I couldn’t help but think, Am I trans?  His descriptions matched my experience.  I’d never considered it before.  I grew up around the LGBT movement, but I never felt I was a part of it.  I didn’t date.  I didn’t talk about my attractions.  I felt I couldn’t express myself in that way.  I bottled it up and locked that bottle away.

The idea took time to percolate.  I talked to a dear friend about it and tried to understand all my thoughts and emotions.  I talked to a close cousin who had always been out and proud when I was growing up.  I didn’t follow up for two more years.

It wasn’t until I started getting fit that I saw how my body could change.  I’d always felt trapped in it, weighed down by it.  I didn’t exercise after puberty and I ate very badly.  It took a toll.  When I moved after grad school, I set a goal to talk to a personal trainer and sign up.  I couldn’t go on in this body, in this way, and not hate myself.

I worked hard.  I started lifting weights and my diet became so much better.  I felt amazing in my smaller, fitter body.  Then it dawned on me.  I don’t have to consider this body a trap.  I can change it, through hard work, and through medical surgery.  I felt inspired to come out and come clean about my whole being.  I told everyone.  Sometimes it was very awkward, but I didn’t hide myself.  I announced it on social media and felt a weight lift.  I told my longtime therapist and she felt so happy for me that I was living as my true self.

Shortly after I posted, Elliot Page came out as trans.  My heart soared.  Here was a successful trans masculine person coming out at 35.  We had both lived our 20s not fully being ourselves and here was our chance to change things. 

To backtrack, I took me months to pluck up the courage to talk to my doctor about HRT.  Then it took longer to follow up on it.  I finally started testosterone on June 1, 2020.  At first, I couldn’t give myself the shots, but I eventually did it and it wasn’t too bad.  I started growing hair and experienced second puberty.  I’m still in the middle of it, discovering a whole new world.  Binders don’t really work for me, so I can’t wait for my top surgery.  I’m eager to be myself now.  I have been very lucky with coming out to my friends and family, who have all been so loving and adapted quickly.

I don’t plan to change my name, but I will go by a different name online, to avoid gender confusion.  I really love my name because it comes from a mix of a few family members.  To honor another family member, I’m going by Jack on the web.  I will use male pronouns, but I’ll be forgiving for a while.  I expect people to be confused or not know how to respond.  We can all learn and grow together.  I will not accept hate; you don’t need to stick around if that’s how you feel.  Hopefully soon you will see me out and about town, expressing my true self. 

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