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Coming around about Comings-Out - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Coming around about Comings-Out
I saw a new name on my Facebook timeline yesterday morning; I recognised the last name but not the first. A little scrolling-back to the friend's own page revealed what the Annoying Top Story Filters had caused me to miss: Kristin, a longtime friend of mine from LJ, had recently come out in her new gender identity.

In the not-too-surprising category, I'd put both the news (it sort of fit aspects of her personality back when it was his) and my reaction to it: Oh. Good for her.  I mentioned it to Eleanor, whose reaction was largely the same, as it was, apparently, for Kristin's wife of several years, who reported and embraced the change in her own Facebook status.

It wasn't that long ago, though, that for me, this kind of transition would've gotten filed under "It's Complicated"- or worse.


Living a dull suburban white people existence, I was close to completely unaware of gender identity issues for the first third of my life. If I was, it was something that either happened far away (references to "going to Scandinavia") or was highly unusual if reported on at all (the first I can recall being the doctor/tennis pro Richard Raskind, who became Renee Richards and the subject of any number of funny-to-a-teenager jokes).

Over the next couple of decades, I gained much more awareness of, and empathy for, the LG half of the LGBT equation. In a sad backward sort of way, it took my pre-existing disdain for the aw-shucks persona of Ronald Reagan to hate him, as well, for his unforgivable treatment (or lack thereof) of gay men during the 1980s AIDS crisis.  Yet there was still little talk, and even less understanding, in the country at large of what transgender was all about. I remained confused by the public and comic images- of Tim Curry as the sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylania, or of Eric Idle's petulant pronouncement, mocking political movements of the 30's (AD) and 80's (1900s) in demanding, from now on, you shall refer to me as Loretta.

Yet tolerance tends to get to you, and in time, I found myself meeting, and befriending, good people, smart people, funny people of all genders- current and former. The strongest cure for prejudice is exposure to those who you are prejudiced against- and it was, really, only in the past few years that I gained enough of such contact for me to shed a childhood of inhibitions and a lifetime of cultural misconceptions and to add the T to my acronym of acceptance with a full understanding and a full heart.

Until yesterday, though, I had never been present for, or even close to, the rebirth- and I reacted with, yes, pride when I realised that my reaction was nothing other than Oh. Good for her.

Will I get it entirely right? Probably not; I expect I'll have my own occasional pronoun trouble and mis-monikering, but most of that is a combination of my usual old age and stubbornness about name changes when it comes to things like streets, and Kristin has forgiven such slips in advance, which I appreciate.  My biggest problem with the whole thing will likely be remembering whether to end the name with -in or -en, and that, my Friend, is probably the least of anyones' problems:)
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angledge From: angledge Date: December 16th, 2014 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
cafemusique From: cafemusique Date: December 16th, 2014 09:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

I recognize much of that. I was just talking with my father about one of my brothers who sounds like he's not sure how to react. (I have not heard from him, but did hear from his wife, when I emailed my coming-out to them.)

But I also really recognize the almost unforgiveable way that the media treated people like me for so many years (and still today, though at least now it is balanced with some portrayals that are far closer to reality). But for younger me trying to figure out who she is (and that she was she), it was a real barrier, because it linked the things that I thought I might recognize in myself with things that were nothing like me.

I know how many years it took for me to accept that this was something that I could not deny and something I could not hide. And I know that much of the same will be going on in those of my family and friends for whom I am the first transgender person they know. (As well as the "What! I thought I knew him all my/his life, and now...she?" in some cases), so I was glad to find what I hope was a good way of setting the expectations for how I want to be treated, without sounding like it was a lecture or a threat, especially for those dealing with somebody like me for the first time.

And yes, it is settling in that I am destined to live a life of spelling my entire name over the phone. I already had a surname with multiple possible spellings. It is funny because we recently used a Black Friday deal to register the domain rollins.xyz - And set up the obvious forwarding address - kristin@rollins.xyz - except if I have to tell anybody the address in speaking, I probably need to spell the entire thing out loud!
cafemusique From: cafemusique Date: December 16th, 2014 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
We're not having a great year either, first in the league to fire our coach this season and only two points ahead of the Sabres. I guess it's fortunate that I fell asleep during the second period instead of sticking with it through the end!
bill_sheehan From: bill_sheehan Date: December 16th, 2014 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm fortunate to count a local attorney among my friends. She sings bass in our choir.

I honestly can't imagine how difficult it must have been for her finally acknowledging her gender and doing the hard and painful work of transitioning, but I'm grateful to know her.
nimnod From: nimnod Date: December 16th, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely post.
angelamermaid From: angelamermaid Date: December 17th, 2014 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I went to high school with a boy named Joe. One day on Facebook, Joe was now Josie. I let Josie know that she was welcome to stay on my friends feed. It's been interesting, watching her transition and giving feedback as she figured out her new clothing style.

My sister's daughter has been struggling with gender identity. After she started dating a FTM person, she changed gender on Facebook but has stayed female in the family. It's very confusing and it appears that its the boyfriend that is putting pressure on her to be trans and she's now seeing a psychologist for the anxiety she's experiencing. I pray that she finds a peaceful resolution to this.
warriorsavant From: warriorsavant Date: December 18th, 2014 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Seems like we just did another simu-post; just wrote on the subject also:
oxymoron67 From: oxymoron67 Date: December 18th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I've dealt with being gay and the baggage that comes with it. I cannot imagine what coming to terms with being trans is like.

My heart goes out to trans folks.
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