The other evening I had the Long Chat with my cousin. I came out as transgendered to the first member of my family. She's a bit older than I am and has seen quite a bit more of the world than I have, plus at just over an inch shorter than me she is the only woman I know I can just about look in the eye. We don't see each other that often but we have become friends as adults probably because we both have slightly less conventional approaches to life than most of the rest of our extended family. She's also quite close to my mother, which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to talk to her. I have no plans to talk to my mother about my gender issues unless it becomes absolutely necessary because I see no profit in upsetting her but in the unfortunate event that she were to find out I think she'll need someone to talk to. Hence I wished to recruit my cousin for that role.
She took it quite well, considering it was probably not what she was expecting. I'd asked her if it was OK for me to share something in confidence with her and she said nothing would faze her, but I don't think this had crossed her mind. So the silence was a tiny bit more shocked than it has been with my friends I've come out to but to her credit she soon rallied and we had the by now usual conversation about what it all means. We then settled into a discussion about our family dynamics with a level of frankness I've not shared with any other family member. It was as though the level of confidence between us was such that now we could talk without the usual in-family politenesses. I think she really appreciated the chance to do this, like all families ours has its hidden tensions and I think the opportunity to finally be able to talk candidly about them was cathartic for her.
We ended up on the phone for a lot longer than I expected, my wife looking pointedly at the clock as we were due elsewhere. Once over the shock she provided some surprising insights into the whole thing, which was both unexpected and very welcome. I will not be coming out to any other family members in a hurry but I am very glad to have done so to her. A very worthwhile conversation.