Coming out to a friend
Coming out can refer to two quite different events, depending on what it is you wish to reveal. One scenario can hardly be avoided, and that is when you have actually decided to transition. People you know may have to get used to the idea that the boy they knew is going to be gone for good. But for many, this a question of the distant future.
What I am referring to here is the first step of coming out, confiding in a close friend that you are really transgendered. This is quite difficult. I know, I have tried. And failed. The simplest answer is: They are probably not interested. They do not want to know. It messes up their simple life to have to start thinking of you as a girl instead. Men are quite simple beings, after all, and anything that clutters up their perception of the world is best dealt with by ignored. In some cases, the don't ask don't tell strategy is often solution, but it is SO lonely, and sometimes you just need to open yourself.
I have started thinking about how to come out without hurting anybody, and it occurred to me that the obvious kind of person to come out to is someone who can read you anyway, or who is testing the ground in various ways to get closer to you. In other words, someone who is prepared to find out the truth about and might even welcome it.
In the biography part, I mentioned an exchange student who possibly made a pass at me, altough I was too blind to even notice, or understand its true significance. Obviously, he would have been an obvious candidate. Except that is a long time ago now, and history. Prehistory.
But how blind can I be? I missed my cue with Bill. But I now realize that that was probably not the only case. Sure, when I was a first-semester student, there was a guy in my class, openly gay, who once hugged me, but that was something different. He may have been looking for the boy in me! His problem, and I don't count that. There was another student, somewhat older, whom I made very good friends with. We used to smoke together and have long long conversations about this, that and everything. And he was so NOT gay, I think he was probably a real homophobe. But once, when I had done him a favour bringing him some notes from class, he said, "You know I'm not the kind of guy who likes boys, but jeez, I really love you!". I took this as a playful way of expressing his gratitude, especially given that he was a homophobe. But I am beginning to guess that subconsciously he was maybe not really seeing a boy in me. Or am I projecting transgenderism into everything I see? If I keep thinking about it, there may be more cases. More missed cues.
Fairly recently I missed another cue, and that is what I will tell about here. I have a good friend / colleague, with whom I have worked quite a bit every so often. We don't meet that often, because we work in different countries, but sometimes our paths cross for various reasons. He is extremely competent, and usually good-humoured, and likes to make jokes. A great guy, and very considerate and friendly. Wouldn't hurt a fly (he is also a vegetarian). He is also quite similar in size to a grizzly bear. And he takes advantage of his evident masculinity when teasing other people. When I am sitting with some female colleagues, he can come over to our table, and say "Hi, ladies!" looking pointedly at all of us. And course, compared to him, the ladies and myself are quite similar in stature and general size. He often comments on the fact that I am much more slender than he is, by observing that I am taking good care of my "girlish figure". Not once, not twice, but a few times he has said it. I have taken it as a joke in good humour. Except that some other conversational topics make me wonder perhaps. Any way, he is good friend. If he cracks jokes like he does, and if I take his cue, he would not be offended or hurt me, he would certainly also take it as a joke, if necessary. And I am sure we could be open to each other about it. So I have been thinking about a possible answer. I have to get the intonation exactly right. I have been practising. It has to have the right feminine sound to out, without being TOO obvious. It has to be just pat. Here goes (let's call him Lawrence):
"Lawrence! If I were a girl, I would say you are flirting shamelessly! Are you?"
If I get the intonation exactly right (starting very high in the "Lawrence", going down, modulating across the whole sentence, and then again with a very high "Are" in the "Are you?" bit) it has the right sound of being a bit surprised, but also flattered, and certainly not unwelcoming. And I would say it with a twinkle in my eye, so he has the choice of backing out by interpreting it all as a joke.
We will be meeting at a conference this summer. It is already scheduled. And if he makes any further remarks about my "girlish figure", I will say it. I will. I hope he does give me my cue. I will at least make sure to take care of my "girlish figure" to give him a fair excuse to say it! From now on, less beer, less fast food, and more exercise! I feel a bit like a silly teenage schoolgirl, giving up the pleasures of food and drink for the sake of a chance complement. But that is what I feel at the moment.
What could it lead to? Well, I should say, we are good friends, but I am not attracted to him. I do not want to start having an affair with him. But I am tired of hiding, and I do want to confide in someone, someone who would not be hurt by knowing it. I am imagining a conversation like this.
HE: Hello again. I see you have been taking care of your girlish figure then?
ME: Lawrence! If I were a girl, I would say you are flirting shamelessly! Are you?
HE: (slight pause) Would you mind it if I were? (I do hope he does actually give me this cue! Please say it!)
ME: (After a slight pause, so he understands that I am thinking this through and answering completely honestly. Gently and softly, with a hint of femme pitch.). No, I don't mind. Not at all. But I do not want to disappoint you, so I will be compleletly honest with you. I am not attracted to men at present, and I do not want to lead you up the garden path. But I understand you have read me as being feminine a long time ago. I am really and sincerely flattered that you consider me feminine enough to flirt with. You see, since I was a child...
I have no idea how the conversation will go on from there, there are too many variables to predict. And I have no intention whatsoever of having an affair with him or being unfaithful to my wife. Never! I just want to be able to speak openly to one person on this planet about what it is to be me.
He might not give me the second cue, of course. Instead, he might simply deny it. But then, he would almost certainly apologize, afraid of having offended me. In that case I would also have an answer ready.
HE: Of course not. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.
ME: (In as gentle voice a voice I can) Don't worry. I am not at all offended. On the contrary. In fact, I quite liked it. For a moment I felt rather flattered. You see, since I was a child...
And so the story would begin. Either way, if he gives me my cue, I will at least finally have an excuse to be honest with him about it. I would be out, at least to one person. Of course I am extremely nervous, indeed, frightened. Just the thought of the conversation makes my heart thump! But I am also filled with determination not simply to chicken out. Not this time. Once in my life, at least, I must try and be completely honest.