17 Years Later, I’m Still Coming Out
Two years ago, I wrote I’m not a boy, but I’m not a girl either. Because it’s National Coming Out Day. Because coming out matters. Because telling my story makes room for kids to tell their stories. For allies to hear the stories that make us human. And believing that we’re human, that we matter, is what keeps us safe. It keeps people from voting against us. It helps people stand up for us. Or at least that’s the hope I like to hold on to.
I’ve been coming out for 17 years. I thought it would get easier, but it doesn’t. For all the voices of support, there are the louder ones that echo. That I’m not enough. That I’m too complicated. That I’m a burden. That I just want attention.
And being a gender nonconforming trans person, I get a lot of attention. I get invasive body searches at airports that leave me hysterical, gasping for breath through tears. I get stared at and questioned in public. I get yelled at and followed and misgendered and embarrassed. I get so much attention.
I don’t want attention. I just want some room.
You get to grow and change and are encouraged to be yourself. You’re told you can be anything you want. You can follow your dreams. You get to think hard and talk so much about who you are and what you want to be. It’s not political. It’s life. It’s some kind of journey. What about my journey?
I’m coming out of the struggle to fit in a gender binary that didn’t have enough room for me. I’m coming out of the restrictions of language and expectations. I’m coming out of something that never worked and felt like trash and oh my god I’m finally free. I wish you could celebrate with me instead of debating the grammatical rules of the pronouns I use. I wish you would celebrate with me instead of questioning why I need to make it so difficult.
I’m coming out because this gender binary cannot work for everyone. Just like good and bad has a whole lot in the middle. And that middle place? That’s where the beauty is. It’s always in the middle. Right between right and wrong and light and dark and this and that.
I’m coming out because it’s hard to be misgendered. Because if you’re a woman and I call you a man, you’d be horrified. But you can call me whatever you want, because of convenience. Because it’s too complicated to use a different pronoun or different words for me. Even though you use singular they all the time for people you don’t even know (listen to the way to you yell at strangers in traffic for an example, “they didn’t even use a blinker!” is a good place to start). Because you’d rather argue grammar or make it my problem for complicating your vocabulary than see that this is something I need. This isn’t asking too much.
I’m coming out with some kind of gender math of this body and weekly shots of testosterone and how together it somehow equals neither this nor that and goodness it’s been exhausting running from this body. This isn’t a transition from one to another but more of a settling in to right here. Where you are is where you are.
I’m coming out because trans kids are in trouble. Suicide rates are too high. Trans kids are scared and hurting and we have a responsibility to keep them not just alive but happy and fulfilled and everything every kid deserves.
I’m coming out because the evangelicals are waging a war against trans people and we need help. Trans rights are truly human rights and shouldn’t be up for a vote or some kind of political bargain. We are human beings. It shouldn’t be this hard.
I’m coming out because kids like me need to know we’re not a burden. We’re not too complicated. We’re not in this for some kind of attention. I’m coming out because there’s nothing wrong with us. We’re okay. I’m coming out because I’m done with expectations that none of us are really any good at.
I’m coming out because my parents taught me that I could do anything and be anything. I’m choosing to be me.