Friday, 26 February 2010

Is being a bloke who's openly transgendered practical?

    Secrets can be a pain in the arse. Particularly if they're secrets you've shared with someone else. The minute you share a secret with one or two people you face two problems, that secret is now dependent on their ability to keep it so, and the more people you share it with the greater your management problem becomes, do I tell this person, does that person already know, that kind of thing.
    Big Secrets don't come much bigger than being transgendered without realistic hope of transitioning. And that in itself is a cause of worry, particularly to my wife who now I've started edging slightly out of the closet finds the idea of hiding a big secret for the forseeable future to be particularly stressful.
    So what if the Big Secret, suddenly wasn't? What if I stole a leaf from the gay book and became openly transgendered in the same way that an ex-colleague of mine is a bloke who's openly gay? Looking at him he's just like I am on the outside, a bloke like any other. Sure if you catch him in the right environments he'll be looking a bit camp, but day to day he's just like me. Yeah, he's gay, what of it? Big Secret, gone! Extremely surprisingly this idea found favour with my wife, too.
    If I slowly continue coming out to friends, then family and eventually colleagues, by the time the information reaches the edge of my particular puddle it'll be such old news as to be no longer salacious. It's not like any of them outside a very select few will have the discomfort of having to deal with me en femme. Yeah, he's or she's (depending on your POV) transgendered, what of it? I am lucky in this respect, I live in a trendy liberal university town in a country that sometimes disappears up its own arse with political correctness, I work in the tech side of a very liberal industry and most of my social group are sometimes a little too right-on for their own good. I don't anticipate any bad stuff, but even in the case someone takes it wrong I don't mind losing them and if someone takes it really wrong I even have the advantage that I'm giant sized. Bloke, and then some! 
    The phrase "Openly transgendered" is edging into new territory for a girl who's sadly only ever going to look like a bloke to the vast majority of people. In decades to come it'll probably be more normal. If I'd met someone describing themselves thus when I was a depressive suffering in the closet maybe it would have helped, so somebody has to do it. 

Is this a hopelessly naive thing to aim for and am I just going to cause grief?


  1. Do you mean 'out to everyone but presenting as male', or 'out to everyone and presenting as how I like'? If the latter, it wouldn't be the end of the world if you did. And whatever you say about your appearance and size, unless you try it you never know how far you can take it. I was resigned to having things thrown at me when I transitioned. It never happened (well, except in a particular set of circs which doesn't count here...). We've got a v flamboyant person in Bristol called Sapphire (google Bristol and Sapphire and you'll see what I mean) who is decidedly 'out there', though being chiefly known for how you present to the world is not perhaps for everyone... of course, it doesn't have to be that way, it can be however you want it...

  2. Do you mean 'out to everyone but presenting as male', or 'out to everyone and presenting as how I like'?

    Most likely the former, the latter being attractive but not practical. Still have million-dollar customers to present to :)

    The funny thing is, I'm already chiefly known for how I present to the world, and sadly not always in a good way. People can be very unpleasant sometimes. I'd give quite a lot to be one of the crowd rather than even further outside it.

  3. The trouble with secrets is that it's easy for others to think it's something Deep and Dark and Terrible. That way lies twitchiness, guilt, and a general loss of perspective. If you were out as transgendered - however you chose to define yourself - how bad could it be? A nine day wonder, at worst. It's more likely people would admire your openness.

    I think of my friend Barry. His reaction when he learned I hoped to transition - and this was a bloke I'd worked with for fifteen years - was inimitable. "Wow. Really? We should have a party!"

  4. Been openly transgender and non-transitioning for 14 years. Sure, lost a few friends, but there was no scene, they just stopped calling. The friends I kept, and the one's I have continued to make since I started living my life where no one really ever knows if I'll show up as a male or a female more than made up for them.

    It has been a great relief to no longer have that BIG secret hiding, wondering when someone will attack me for it. Now, there's nothing to attack, since there's nothing hidden.

    But, think about it long and hard first: once you're out of the closet, there's no way back in!

  5. 'Coming out' in whatever form will be one of the biggest things you could ever do. I 'came out' because my goal is to transition so I kinda had to come out. I don't regret for one second 'coming out' though. I've gained respect for being honest and open, and my confidence is a million times what it was a year ago. The freedom is unbelievable. 'Coming out' will change your life but I would only do it for the right reasons and would certainly not rush into it x

  6. @Cat: I've already had the experience of someone imagining something far more terrible and being relieved when she found out what I wanted to tell her. I've yet to have come out to a friend with Barry's reaction, but I live in hope.

    @Jamie: that's exactly what prompted this post, the potential relief of losing the Big Secret. I'm less worried about friends, if someone backs away they probably weren't worth having in the first place.

    @Emma (and Jamie): There's no way I'll rush in to this and there's a lot to think about. It's simply a way forward to resolve a particular stress point - the Big Secret - and it's the one that makes most sense. I think it'll make life easier on the front that even though I'm not intending to go out en femme it will allow me more freedom of expression. And that will certainly help my confidence.

  7. Jenny, you keeping asking if it's practical. There is no aspect of being transgendered that is practical. Leave that silly notion behind.

    I, too, would love to rid myself of the Big Secret. I'd be well on my way to revealing my true self to the world if the idea didn't scare my wife witless. She and the kids are dependent on me, and she worries about me losing my job. I think that a controlled airing of the facts is preferable to an accidental reveal, but it's not my choice alone.

  8. Damn my rigorous training, I apply a practicality test to everything!

    My wife has made somewhat of a change over time from being scared of people finding out to realising that the Big Secret is a greater burden. I think the reactions of my friends I've come out to convinced her.

    I recognise I'm lucky in my job and family situation. No kids yet, laid back employer. Also as has been pointed out to me elsewhere a Human Rights Act and a Disability Discrimination Act which means that once I have that diagnosis in my hand it would be a foolhardy employer who edged me out of a job for having something of the girl about me.

    Finally, a reason to be pleased with Rip Off Britain!

  9. I guess I am of the "need-to-know" mentality. If they don't need to know, they don't get to know. Who needs to know? Well, for starters, my wife was on that list but she is still the only non TG who knows at this point.

    I'm actually doing a blog post on this subject soon.

    Calie xxx

  10. hi Jenny
    It sounds like you are trying to find a way to express your female side and fitting it into your life despite all your worries about height etc.

    As you say once a secret is out, it is out, but also it could relieve pressure of you and your wife and a way to start some type of transtion, which is telling people.

    There is no right or wrong way, only the way that works for you.

    You seem to speak so well about trans issues and it would be such a shame if the non trans community were able to hear this.

    I run workshops about gender itdentity and would happily invite you along to talk to people about your life.
    hugz and best wishes
    Lucy and Smudge (my cat!)

  11. You have a cat? Now I'm envious!

    In the 4 months or so since I wrote this I've probably come out to about half my friends, and to my parents. It's gone really well and it seems to have been a way that works for me.