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Laura1951:
The following two posts could have been made in the Coming Out section, but I'm adding them here instead because they are highly personal.

Four years after Laura appeared to me and her therapist and one year after coming out to a close friend, I reached out this morning to someone I knew in my former work life. I had written the coming out letter more than a month earlier, bu it took some time to gather the nerve to send it. Coming out is difficult so starting with the low hanging fruit is never a bad strategy. It helped that my friend was gay and that he and his partner had moved from my city north more the 10 years ago. We still kept in touch and would connect at conferences a few times a year, but I've been thrilled to see both his academic and professional growth, as well as his amazing family.

Below is the letter I sent to him. I'll share his response in the following post.
Dear XXX,

Congratulations on earning your doctorate, XXX. I never cease to be impressed, and happy, when I read your FB posts and see your family in action.

I wrote this more than a month ago, but it’s taken time and courage to send it. In the spirit of Pride month, I wanted to reach out to two friends from my former work life to share something deeply personal and hope it is received with acceptance, empathy, and discretion.

Basically, I’m transgender.

This isn’t something I’ve chosen since I’m well aware of the pain and rejection many in the trans community face, as well as murder from those who are somewhat threatened by us. The level of discrimination against us seems to be increasing during the Trump administration, which doesn’t help with our dysphoria. As this point, I’ve only come out to two of my post-retirement friends and was relieved by their love and acceptance.  I’ve held this close to the vest, though, because most trans are rejected wholly, or at least in part, by their family and friends. It’s not uncommon for us to pick up and move to a new city to establish our new identity. I’m considering this option as well, given that the Human Rights Campaign gave <my city> a D- in LGBT rights. Being trans does uproot us in so many ways.

I suspected I was trans when I was 12 and dressed for a year before stopping out of shame. I had no idea there were others like me, so I buried this for the next 50 years. Four years ago, during a year I spent in therapy after my second marriage imploded, I came out to myself and to my therapist. I felt both relieved and scared at the same time.
During the following three years, I started and stopped hormone treatment at least five times, quitting out of fear of the future and purging more sets of clothes than I care to admit. Still, even when I tried to return to life as man full time, Laura (my chosen name) would peer back out after a few weeks. In the end, I accepted that I couldn’t deny my identity, so finally I began, in earnest, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) nine months ago. I had been scheduled for facial feminization surgery (FFS) last month, but COVID has postponed that until next fall or winter. FFS won’t make me a woman but for most of us, it reduces some of the effects testosterone has had on our faces. I may face a difficult decision about how I’ll live my life depending upon how successful FFS is.

Passing is the hurdle we must leap over if we want to blend into society. While some trans women throw caution to the wind and go full-time, regardless of their ability to pass, being an introvert forces me onto another path where I have plenty of company.

I am deeply in the closet, XXX, and unsure if I’ll be able to live full time at some point. For me, outing myself can only be possible if I pass and then I’m still anxious about whether I should still hide this from my family and friends from my former life. Many trans women experience the same dilemma. Currently, I live my life as a man when I’m outside but I’m Laura when inside or on occasional trips to other cities. I’m expecting to begin excursions to the coast or SF as Laura more often beginning later this summer or fall. Beginning with trans-friendly places as well as trans support groups like River City Gems will probably be the next steps into this new world I’ve embraced, but fear of rejection from my neighbors, family and friends continues to shape my view of the future, though. Still, I’m resolute about the path I’m on, so I felt the need at this point to share my story with you.

I'd appreciate your discretion.
Sincerely,
Laura, aka <deadname>

Laura1951:
This afternoon, my friend wrote back in a letter I couldn't finish the first time because of tears of happiness. Below is his response.
Laura,
Thank you so much for your email. In true IT-head fashion it took me a second because I didn't recognize the name and wondered how Google's althoriums had figured out I had a doctorate and spammed me. :-)

First, let me just start by saying I love, accept, and support you in any form. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. It was deeply personal and I am honored you chose to share this story with me. You have been one of the biggest mentors in my career and have always found you to be a wise and inspiring educator and human. That will never change and if anything grew a little deeper today. Second, I know how liberating these emails can be. While our journeys are very different I can only imagine that each coming out experience while both nerve-racking is also somewhat freeing like it was for me. I know when I was coming out it was kind of like I couldn't stop telling people even though I was also saying, "don't let anyone know." The ability to just be yourself with someone is exceptionally liberating.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you on your journey. I would say, step one is definitely to get out of <city name>. We left 12 years ago now and have never left back. The level of ignorance in that community is stifling. No place is perfect and there are certainly some wonderful people in <city name>, but there definitely better options for LGBTQ+ folks. About 30 minutes ago I went to my neighborhood Target and about 5 minutes into the store realized I had a giant pride t-shirt on when this older grandma told me she loved my shirt and wondered where I got it. I am pretty sure I would not have had the same reaction at the <city name> Target.

As an educator I imagine, like me, much of your hope for the future comes through hearing about and working with kids. If you run out of things to read I attached a copy of my dissertation. I don't know if you already know this, but I focused on understanding the school evaluation and selection process of 12 LGBTQ+ students at my school. Their stories were so inspiring. If you read anything read the participant vignettes and findings. You will really hear their voices there.

Take care and please keep in touch. When COVID is somewhat over I have a wonderful school for you to come visit.

davina61:
Thats nice, you have a very good friend there. When folk are true friends they accept no matter  what.

Laura1951:

--- Quote from: davina61 on July 10, 2020, 02:45:01 am ---Thats nice, you have a very good friend there. When folk are true friends they accept no matter  what.

--- End quote ---
So true, @Davina. While I was a bit worried about outing myself, I felt blessed with his support. One new day at a time.

Laura

Laura1951:
I’ve been pondering about the two paths outlined in my Stay or Go  thread. One path would allow me to stay in my current city, in a house and neighborhood I love, and an alternate path that would take me to a city about an hour north which is much more LGBT friendly. This is certainly a difficult decision, so I’m giving myself enough time to explore both paths.

Staying would mean several things, including coming out to my neighborhood, as I’d be leaving the house more often, if not all the time, as Laura. Taking this path, were I to go full-time, would impact, and possibly remove playing tennis at the club I belong to. My best friend, the first person I came out to and a fellow player, believes that while some people at the club will be accepting, the women will largely be critical and will tend to talk behind back. Can I handle playing as Laura when I’ve played as <dead name> with these same people for many years? Can I handle being rejected by my fellow players? Will I have to stay <dead name> when playing tennis, while being Laura the rest of the time? Can I handle running into one of my tennis friends at the store when I’m Laura and they’re unaware of my transition?

All good questions, but ones I need to ponder if I want to stay. To explore this path, I’m taking @SarahC’s advice to come out to a few people at a time to test the waters. This will allow me  to take the temperature of fellow players about whether I can stay. I’ve asked my best friend for her advice about which low having fruit to start with.

Path Two would require me to sell my house and rentals and move to a more accepting city an hour away. I’ve begun to investigate this path as well, looking at current sales and new construction. I plan to drive up there today to check out a new house that has potential. I’ve also put one of my rentals on the market to free up cash for a sizable down payment, should I take this path. Important questions to consider: How will I feel about joining a new tennis club in my new city, where the tennis pro there previously was the pro at my local club? Can I make new friends as Laura? How will my new neighbors adjust/react to Laura? Will I be able to pass and blend in? My best friend questions whether I won’t pass. She thinks I look fine now and with FFS, I could hopefully reach a tipping point in my confidence about my appearance.

I won’t make a final decision for several months and might wait until after my FFS. Time, and reactions, will tell.

Laura

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