As I come out to more and more people, one comment I have heard a number of times now has to do with my decision.
This word, when applied to anything I might have to talk about when coming out, is always tricky for me.
“What, you mean the decision to be trans? That’s not a decision. That’s who I am.”
“Do you mean the decision to live as myself? That’s not a decision. That’s a necessity.”
“Are you talking about the decision to tell you who I am? I suppose you could call it a decision, but it’s more of a necessity if I am to be addressed by the correct name and referred to with the proper pronouns.”
I try to explain that there really aren’t choices, so there aren’t really decisions to be made. Not really, in the grand scheme of going through the process. Well, maybe for others, but not for me.
Oh sure, I could make decisions about how to cut my hair or what clothes to wear or whether to come out to someone in person or by writing a letter, but in the department of just plain ol’ coming out and being myself, mostly, there are steps to take, but not really decisions. At least, that’s the way it seems to me.
The best way I can put it is like this:
The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you’re just taking your time paddling along. And you paddle around a bend, and all of a sudden, you find yourself in some nasty rapids. You didn’t know they were there, you didn’t see them coming, and there is nothing you can do to avoid them. The rapids are a metaphor for the realization that you’re trans.
So now you’re in some raging white water. It’s roaring around you, swirling and crashing over you and your canoe, and you paddle like crazy, trying to avoid deadly rocks, trying to keep the canoe from tipping, trying not to fall in. Are you making decisions? I mean, really making decisions? Hell no! You’re just trying to get through it.
When you finally make it to calmer waters, you paddle over to the side and get out with shaky legs to pull your canoe up onto the bank. And you walk into camp and everyone is sitting there waiting for you — your family, your friends, your coworkers.
Now, I suppose you have a choice whether to tell everybody what happened. But if you decide not to come out as having just gone through the rapids, it’s still going to be obvious to everyone that you are soaking wet.