Today is (Inter)National Coming Out Day. A day promoting openness and awareness of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered people in the world. As well as all the people who may not fit neatly into one of those four terms.
I am transgendered. I have been for my entire life, but I have only been out for three years now. I did not come out on NCOD, I did it on a day with no real cultural significance putting it into play. I simply woke up after a long night of travel coming back from a one-nighter doing stand up in Hannibal, MO birthplace of Mark Twain. I was exhausted but I couldn’t sleep, because I knew that I just had hit a point where I could not deal with facing another day living the lie. I ran through all of the arguments in my head as to why I was so afraid to tell the world about my gender issues, and none of them seemed convincing anymore.
It’s been three years. And I have been lucky. In the time that I have been open and honest with the world about who I am, people have generally been very cool about it. I can’t say that I lost any friends over it whose friendship I truly valued, and I can say that in general I am emotionally happier than I ever was before. And I sleep better now. Generally gone is the chronic insomnia that plagued me through my twenties. Arriving now only at my most anxious and leaving before too long.
No, it’s not always easy. I’ve been screamed at from cars, felt physically threatened and in immediate danger from hostile reactions around me. I have been ridiculed on the street from people who speak about me within earshot as if I were an animal in the zoo and not a person. A little over a month ago, I had my heart broken by the first girl I was truly falling for in over five years because she just couldn’t bring herself to accept this part of who I am. And in June my older brother died and I know he never really knew me because we’d never spoken about this.
It’s not easy. I know that women often write me off quickly as a potential partner. I know that people often write me off as a gimmick in my comedy career before hearing any material that I have. I know that it got me fired from my job last winter. I know that it’s weird. People don’t always know how to wrap their heads around it and they assume their confusion means I am confused as well. They make assumptions about my preferences and desires based on knowing me a few minutes or months even and don’t consider that maybe I’ve been dealing with this for 30 years and perhaps I’ve already considered or explored the options they are still imagining and have still found myself today where and who I am.
But I am out. And here’s what I get for it. I get to know that when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, that the person I see is the person I am on the inside, and when I go out in the world I get to be that person. To everyone. Not a mask, not a portion of myself, but me. Regardless of if I have on jeans or a dress, I get to be. It means that while it may lead to some harsh broken hearts, that I also will never again feel myself pull away as things start to go well with a new woman because I have fear what her reaction will be when she finds out about “it.”
It means I get to know that there truly are people in my life who love me and care for me and support me in who I am and being myself. It means I get to sleep a full night’s sleep because I am not awake agonizing at how the world will fall apart when I let people know who I am. Because instead they already know and it has only brought it all together for me. And I learned that whether I’m talking about why I have or a dress or about finding a porn DVD in my dead brother’s TV, this taught me that I’m never as good onstage as I am when I’m just being honest.
I get to know that the three years that I have been openly transgender have been the three most real years of my entire life.