I felt like writing a little about what this whole trip's been like for me, because I think sharing personal feelings about this kind of stuff is important and makes other guys feel less alone. It's always great to see an awesome transition journal, but it's more rare to really get a look inside a guy's head while he's going through everything. Now I haven't begun medically transitioning yet, so I am sure I'll have a lot more to write about in the future, but I think that what I have experienced so far is also worth writing about.
Coming out as trans was a long process, and the hardest part was getting to a place where I was comfortable admitting what I was feeling to myself. My whole life I'd had an image of people who "had sex changes" (which was the only language I knew at the time) being freaks. I didn't see it as anything that would ever be a possibility in my life. So when I first realized that there were options out there for me, and that there were trans people a lot like myself, whose lives seemed a whole lot like mine, I was both excited and scared at the same time.
I started by coming out to my girlfriend, who was wonderfully understanding, and still is today. I am so thankful that coming out to her was such a positive experience, because I know it would have been extremely hard for me to move past that if she'd not been supportive. Next I came out to close friends at school, and some from home. So far almost everyone has at least tried to understand. When I think back to those few weeks when I was coming out to everyone (or so it seemed) I remember being really nervous about what people were going to think. I wondered if they would think less of me or if they'd even take me seriously. In my experience, being open and honest with people has only brought me closer to them, even if things were strange in the beginning. Then again, I'm lucky to have some exceptionally good friends.
All this time, I was meeting more and more transguys and their partners, and I drew a lot of strength from that. It was great to have people who understood this part of me without having to explain it. I felt really at home with them. I met most of the guys online, in places like YRTransguys and through sites like Gay.com. While having guys to talk to online was great, it was even better to get to spend time with them in real life. There were a few of us who put out a lot of effort to see one another even though we lived in different parts of the country. I am still good friends with almost all of the people I met in the first few months I came out as trans.
Very soon after coming out, I realized it would be important for me to know other transguys who lived near me. I didn't know how to go about meeting anyone though, because living in rural New England, I didn't think there would be a big population of FTMs. I was partially right, but I did find out about a small support group that met once a month about an hour away from where I lived. I started attending the meetings. The guys there were a lot different than most of the guys I knew online. For the most part they were older and further along in transition than I was. I felt a little out of place in the beginning, but it was great to see transguys living normal, happy lives. Most of the time we didn't even talk about a lot of trans stuff at the meetings, but spent the time just shooting the shit. I was feeling more and more hopeful about my own life all the time. Another great thing about having connections with a local trans community was that they helped point me toward other resources.
It was through someone I met at that group that I started getting involved with a queer youth organization in another city. That's when I really got involved with trans activism in a big way. It was (and still is) great to be able to go out there and speak and know that what I'm doing is making a difference somewhere. Around the same time, I was beginning to realize that what I was doing online through my website was affecting people too. These experiences were all very rewarding for me and I decided queer activism was something I'd like to try to make a career out of.
Over Thanksgiving of 2000 I came out to my mom and dad as trans. It was a scary and difficult thing to do, but I knew it was time. I was beginning to feel more and more dishonest about my life because I was hiding so much from them. It made me not want to even talk to them on the phone or send letters home. One night while I was sitting in the living room with my mother watching television, I just came out and told her what was going on. It didn't go over so well. My parents didn't cut off communication with me or anything, but they definitely weren't ready to handle the news and didn't want to hear anything about it. Even though I was discouraged, it felt so much better to have talked with them about everything, at least a little. An incredible weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt much more confident about myself and more clean and honest about everything in my life. A few months later, I sent a letter home telling them more about what was going on with me. I keep trying to get them to understand, whether or not they really want to.
Since I was living as male in every part of my life, at school and wherever I was working, and I was out to my family, the next big step was for me to get my name legally changed. The whole process was a frustrating one because there were a lot of hoops I had to jump through before I could even file the papers, like setting up legal residence in my state and paying off some traffic fines that I owed the state. Once all of that was taken care of, I filed papers at the Probate Clerk's office, and a legal notice of my name change ran in the local paper for three weeks before I had a hearing with the probate judge and he issued me my new papers. Next I went to my bank, the Social Security Office, and the DMV with my new paperwork and had my name changed at all of those places. The whole process cost me about $70, not too bad. I was very relieved once it was over, but before it actually happened I was really nervous about it. This was the biggest real change I'd made since coming out as trans, and one of the first concrete steps of my transition. You can read something I wrote about what I was feeling at the time right here.
So now all of this leaves me in a kind of in-between place, which actually makes me a little uncomfortable. I am happy to be out as trans and seen as male by everyone who knows me, but since I haven't started medically transitioning yet, I don't always pass and that is really frustrating. I am lucky to have really supportive friends, but I am frustrated that things with my family are moving so slowly. I think they are trying, but they never want to talk to me about what they feel, and more often than not it just seems like they are ignoring the fact that I ever came out to them in the first place. Just recently, my mother sent me some mail with my new name on the envelope instead of my birth name for the first time, so I guess that is a good sign. I am thinking more and more about coming out to the rest of my family, but I don't know if I'll do that until I am closer to starting my medical transition or not.
I'm glad that I've taken my time with everything since coming out. I haven't ever felt like I'm pushing myself too hard or moving too fast with transition, which is very important to me. I don't want to end up with any regrets. So far everything I've done has felt like it's come at just the right time and has felt perfect, I hope that's how things continue to go for me. Top surgery and starting T are in my future, but I am unsure about when I will be able to afford either one and I really want to have everything else in my life as settled as possible before either of those things happen. I am anxious for more change though.
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