The “dreaded coming out” – some suggestions
by Allison Blaylock
Transgender Advice Columnist
I am a non-binary transgender person (FtM). I am not out to many people, save some close friends. I've been transitioning with hormones in relative secrecy, for about eight months now. My voice is deeper, I'm growing hair, and my body has noticeably changed. A few (observant) people have pointed out and questioned these changes, but for the most part no one seems to think of me as any less of a woman.
Though I do not publicly announce my trans status, if someone were to directly ask, or if the moment feels ok, I will disclose it. It eats me up that I am constantly lying to the world, and that I am constantly lying to myself. I feel forced to hide a part of who I am to the world. I fear that soon it will be impossible to hide my transition from the public.
Unfortunately, I just entered into a new leadership position that puts me directly in the public eye. Furthermore, I also lead a women's support group, and feel like I am co-opting a space I don't belong in; perhaps worse, that my identity doesn't fit in that group, or it does not match who I am.
I feel stuck between hiding in the closet and being "found out" because of my "tells" due to hormones, and coming out and experiencing a community backlash and distrust. I realize it will be impossible to stay in the closet forever, but at this point I can't imagine coming out just a few weeks into a big new job.
What can I do?
Between a rock and a hard place
One of the biggest struggles any transgender person deals with is the dreaded coming out, even then we protect who knows as we slowly tell people. In many cases, it could be a friend, the building of completely new group of friends, or maybe a certain family member.
I will say that there is no easy way to do it along with no right or wrong way, the only way is your way. I do get asked by people if I am trans (transgender) and as an advocate, columnist, and my character I tell people. I use it for myself as a way to educate.
I know that this is not the right path for everyone and I am in no way stating this is what you have to do to feel comfortable. You might find that some of your friends may already have suspicion of the changes, especially if you have done something drastic like your hair or how you present when dressed.
As the hormones start to take their toll on your body there are many changes that you will be able to hide to some degree though it is not as easy. With the taking of testosterone, you do have, as you mentioned, voice getting deeper, body hair being more pronounced, and soon you will see some other characteristics if not already. These do make for struggles with work.
One suggestion that I will make for you is to find out what your company policy is regarding Transgender (gender identity protections). If they do have diversity and are ok with this in the policy, you might want to have a private discussion with HR.
With HR, you can build a game plan to do either a hard introduction as your authentic self or a soft one. You have to find what works best for your company. With HR knowing and being able to build a plan for you to start working as your authentic self you might find that they are all accepting of this and want to help encourage you to be a leader in other aspects within the company.
In regards to the group that you are leading, the nice part is that you can slowly step down and hand over the reins to someone else so that they can then start finding some new leadership traits. This does not have to be a swift change and it can simply be that you need to take some time to reflect on personal aspects. Once you get things in line with work and similar you can then maybe re-introduce yourself to the group and see if they want to have you around still.
I found the more I kept my closet shut, the harder it was to truly become who I am today. I had some moments of reality that I had to open the door really quick with coming out. And then there have been some moments that I have been able to delay the coming out.
I found that reaching out and meeting up with some support groups helped me as I was able to be comfortable as the person I was when I was around them as it was not a judgmental zone, sort of a safe spot. It was listening to some others that helped me kick off my changes and move forward on other things.
The one thing I have learned and I tell others as well as they remind me at times, we can be our own worst critics and enemies. We over analyze everything because we do not know what people think, so we think the worst.
You are a strong man and even stronger person. The road coming soon might be bumpy but once it has been paved correctly and how you want, it will be smooth cruising going forward.
The Gayly – May 13, 2016 @ 11:15 a.m.