Since beginning my transition, I have wrestled most consistently with the idea of living “out” as transgender. When I thought I was gay, it was simple – I wanted everyone to know I was gay. I wanted the world to know. I was not afraid, nor ashamed, nor hesitant at all to broadcast my membership in the LGBT community. But that all changed when I came out as trans. At first, I dreamed of the day when no one would have to know about my trans identity. I relished the thought that I could keep it a secret from anyone new in my life.
Over the years, my mindset has shifted significantly. It started small, with a willingness to reopen channels of my life that I had attempted to close — for example, getting in touch with some of my high school classmates. Originally from Maryland, I have for a long time wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. When I came out as trans, the idea of moving across the country took on a second appeal as an opportunity to “escape” my former life. But I gradually stopped wanting to entirely escape it.
Next, I noticed that I didn’t mind as much acknowledging my past or my identity. Where before, questions about high school had sent me into a panic — “Should I lie? Should I pretend I was home schooled? God forbid, should I say I went to Landon?” — I now found myself volunteering information about that part of my life. If I wanted to joke about the uniforms at my high school, I all of a sudden didn’t mind prefacing my stories with, “Well, I went to an all-girls school.”
Concurrently, I discovered that, as I made new friends, it bothered me if they didn’t know that I was transgender. Surprisingly, as I have gone further and further in my transition, and as I have become more comfortable with and confident in my own masculinity, it has become more important to me to acknowledge the trans aspect of my identity. Not because I feel I am hiding something if I don’t talk about it, but because I do believe it has shaped who I am in a very distinctive manner. I wouldn’t be the same man that I am today if I had simply been born in the right body — as nice as that would have been — and, truthfully, I am pretty damn happy with the man that I am today, and the man that I believe I am growing up to be.
I am not ashamed of who I am, and I am no longer afraid. It still bugs me if someone messes up my pronouns, but every day it shakes my confidence less and less. Other people’s perceptions do not make me a man. If someone cannot see me for who I am, that is their problem, not mine. I am proud of who I am, and the journey I have taken.
Things are improving for trans people in parts of the United States. I have been overwhelmingly surprised by the positive responses I have received as I came out to those who knew me before, and those who know me now. But we, as a country, still have so far to go. I think the best thing that any trans person can do is simply live his or her life and allow the rest of the world to see that we are not so different from anyone else. Like any other person, all I want is to live my life and find contentment. Now, not every trans person could safely live out, as fantastic as that would be. But I am in a position where I can do so more safely than most, both where I am now and where I plan to end up. And I am also in a position to handle some of the less severe hardships that come from being out. Knowing the importance of out trans people, how can I stand by in the shadows? Knowing that there are trans people all over the world who cannot be open about their identities, how can I stay silent about mine?
After considering the subject, quite frankly, for many years, I have decided to officially come out of the closet. Most people who know me already know that I am trans, but, as of today, I am choosing to make that part of my life an open book. If my actions or my words allow even one person to more fully understand transgender issues or accept transgender people, I will consider all of this worth it.
So, for those of you who know me, but did not know, here it is: I am transgender. More specifically, I am a trans man, meaning that I was born female, but I am a man. I encourage questions, if you have them, as long as such questions are asked in a respectful manner. Please also remember that not all trans people want to be asked questions, especially those that involve very personal medical or emotional issues. I also encourage you to share my blog, if you think someone would enjoy or benefit from reading it.
And for those of you who read my blog, but do not know me, please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Isaac Katz. I am a student at Oberlin College, which, truly, is one of the best places in the entire United States to realize that you are transgender. The online trans community — the blogging community in particular — has been such a lifeline for me during the hardest parts of my transition. I do not want to hide who I am from those who have supported me despite never having met me.
My transition has not been without hardship, but I feel fortunate in the wealth of support I receive from my friends, my family and my community, and I am incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can feel safe being out as trans. I hope that, one day, no one has to be afraid to admit, “I am transgender.” And that’s really all there is to say.
“I’m Coming Out” by https://growingupgareth.wordpress.com/ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://growingupgareth.wordpress.com/.