Think about the hardest think you have ever done, now multiple that by ten and you will not even come close with what it is like coming out to your family. Now imagine doing that every day of your life. That is just a small idea of what it is like being trans. Every day we come out, if you do not pass as a woman or a man then wherever you go out in public people read you as being transgender. It is like the Bob Seger song “Turn the Page” where they sing "Oh, the same old cliches / 'Is that a woman or a man?' "
At the place that I am interning they do an exercise where you write down your hobbies, your favorite TV shows and what you did last night. Then you turn to the person next to you and you have to talk for 5 minutes without talking about any of the items that you had on your list. This gives you an idea of what life is like before you come out. All the things that I did as Diana I could never talk about before I came out. There was a barrier between my male persona and my female persona, a wall that could never be breached. When I came back from a week up at Fantasia Fair in Provincetown, I had to lie at work and say I was up at my brother’s condo. To admit to the truth was to admit that I was gay or something because P’town had a reputation as being a place where all the gays hang out.
Being in the closet creates stress that can manifest in stress related medical problems such as heart attacks, panic attacks, etc. On the other hand, coming out of the closet has it own problems, loss of family and friends, loss of job, loss of housing and being discriminated against. It is kind of like being caught between a rock and a hard place.
For me, the pressure of transitioning built up to the point where it over powered my fear of coming out. I’m a worrier and I worried that I would lose everything, family, friends and my job, but I had to come out. I came out first to my brother, at the time I was crossdressing and I didn’t identify as transsexual. I came out to him because my secret was too hard to bear alone, I needed an ally that I could talk to about the way I felt. I needed to relieve some of that built up pressure.
When I finally did come out to my brother’s family it was as if a dam had busted, I guess I was carried away a little and it was all that I talked about. However, they had to realize that all this pent up pressure of not being able to tell anyone was just pouring out, now finally after 50 years I could talk about how I felt.
Now, the pressure has been relieved, the Genie is out of the bottle. As a result my stress levels have dropped dramatically, people have notice that I am more relaxed. When I came out to my father’s side of the family this spring some of my cousin said they noticed a change in me at my father’s funeral that I seemed more at ease.
If you are thinking about coming out, be safe! Weigh all your options and analyze your need to come out. How will it affect your family situation, do you depend upon your parents for financial support? How does coming out affect your job? Are you willing to cut all ties to your family or friends?
Think before you leap.