I think that, as the years go on, it often becomes increasingly difficult to come out to people. At first, when we are starting transition, we sometimes have to come out, thanks to that grey area that we move through when people we meet (and want to date) aren’t sure of our gender or who, exactly, is asking them out.
In the beginning, it can even be exciting to come out. We are experiencing something incredible, and in many cases, we want people to know. But after a while, when things settle down and we have moved into a place that is comfortable for us, we just want to get on with life. Every time we have to come out, we think, “What? That again? When is this going to be over?”
Unfortunately – and there are many people who don’t agree with me, here – it is never going to be over. That is the reality of our situation. I am a firm believer in coming out to potential sexual and/or romantic partners as soon as it appears that there might be sex and/or romance on the horizon.
I believe this for a few reasons:
> I would personally rather get dumped (or do the dumping, if the person seems as if he or she can’t handle it) early on, before things get too serious and one or more of us gets our heart broken.
> I think that transition and being transsexual (which is how I identify) is a pretty monumental thing in my life, and it’s not something that I would want to keep from someone close to me, even if I could. I also think that intimacy is built on honesty, and while I don’t believe that we have to tell a partner all of our deep, dark secrets, I think the big ones (especially those that have a major influence on who we are and/or could come back to haunt us later) are pretty important.
> I think that it’s only fair to inform a person who intends to be intimate with me what that person is going to encounter before we hit the sack. I would like to be informed, as well, if there is something major that I’m not expecting. Surprises can be fun, but don’t bet on it in this case.
> There is always a safety risk if someone gets a “surprise” that he or she is not expecting. Personal safety is paramount, and no date or relationship is worth risking it.
Regardless, I understand that it’s probably getting increasingly harder for you to come out as you live your life as a man. But I think that you will have to continue to do it, at least with those you want to be intimate with, and that you will have to do it even after phalloplasty.
Modern phalloplasties look great, they feel great, and the surgical techniques continue to evolve. However, I think most women will be able to tell the difference as you become increasingly sexually involved, and you might get some questions that will be difficult to answer.
I would advise that you come up with some “coming out” language that you are comfortable with. Of course, every situation will be different, and you might have to tweak it based on the person and the scenario, but if you have something that you feel okay with, it will be easier, and you won’t have to dread it each time.
Some possible suggestions:
> I want you to know that I wasn’t always male (or a man).
> I want you to know that I have had some corrective medical procedures in the past.
> I want you to know why I haven’t shown you any photos of me as a child.
> I want you to know why I’m not going to (or taking you to) my class reunion.
> I want you to know why I ___________ (changed jobs, moved from Cleveland to San Francisco, no longer speak to my parents, whatever).
I don’t think you need to come out on a coffee date. But if things start to move in a direction, I would personally advise it. It helps to preface it with something like “I’d really like to see you again, and (not but) there’s something I want you to know about me.”
Don’t make it dramatic. Don’t make it some big confession. Don’t make it out to be something really awful that you’re sure she’s going to dump you for. You’re just telling her something about yourself that you think she needs to know. What she decides to do after that is up to her, and you can’t control it.
The reality is that many people still feel (falsely) betrayed by trans people who don’t come out to them. That’s their problem, not ours, but if you want to get over that hurdle and either move on with the relationship or move on to another possibility, I say the sooner, the better.
And if you have your “coming out” language already in place, it might still be difficult, but it will not seem like an overwhelming or impossible task every time. Good luck to you.
Readers, what thoughts or suggestions do you have?