I cannot clap enough for this post. Thank you!
For me, I “came out” when I transitioned. What you see is the real me.
When people insist that I disclose what is in essence my personal medical/social history of trauma and hiding pre-transition, that is erasure—it’s demanding that I drag (*cough*) that empty closet around, pointing it out to everyone, as if it held some essential truth about me.
I disclose for personal reasons that are mine and nobody else’s, realizing that every time I do, I’m throwing a big wad of confusing social/political garbage (that most people have no clue about and many are eager to distort and exploit) into that person’s lap and saying, “Here, you deal with this!” I do it knowing that this new “fact” will now become like a booger on my forehead that the person sees instead of the actual me the booger is stuck to. I do it knowing that it will take me emotional labor and perhaps very real consequences to my own well being before I can wipe that booger off my forehead—if they even let me.
And sometimes I still do it, because if we’re all invisible and only the loudest, most obnoxious, most famous, and/or most controversial trans women (and and men, but the world seems fixated on us women) get seen and heard, then the world is getting a skewed and filtered understanding. (This is one reason I started writing trans* fiction.)
I’ve been the out activist. I’ve been the mascot trans woman liberal friends point to as validation of their own liberality. I’ve been the tragic pity case conservative friends accept like they accept a stray dog. And to many (mostly who know about me through family), I am the trans woman whose trans-ness is the first (and often last) thing they know about me and ever want to know about me.
I spent most of my life suffering, being told by family and “friends” that I do not exist. When I came out (as in disclosed), I lost my job, some of my family, and all of those so-called friends. When I transitioned, I came out to the world. Don’t I deserve a few years actually living in it the way I always should have been?