Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coming out! Who do you trust?

The coming out process is one of the most personal things to a lot of people. For me it was a process that took years for me to even find someone to trust. As a teen I thought my brothers where too young to understand the way I felt. I tried to give my mom some little hints at times, yet I was too worried that my father would find out. My father was not the type a person who deals with this well. As I sit here, I recall why I feared talking to my father about it. When I was around 7 years old I did mentioned to him that I wanted a doll, and he would not have any of that. There was an odd silence on the way home from the toy store. When we got home he told me to go straight to my room. I could tell from his tone of voice that he was not happy. At first I didn’t know what I said to make him so angry. I soon found out as he came into the room with his belt (with buckle end out) hitting me across the back and bottom to many times to remember. I felt the welts for days. In that one moment I learned that he was not the one to entrust my inner most thoughts and feelings. If not my family who? I felt alone because everyone expected me to act a certain way or play with certain toys, or just hang with the boys when I wanted to hang out with the girls play. At age 7 I didn’t know how to explain it, yet it was something so dear to my heart yet I suppressed all these feelings and buried them away.

My life went through a lot of changes in the next few years. We moved a lot tell we settled in a little town in southern Utah. What didn’t change was the beatings my brother and I would get for no reasons. My father began to work a lot which meant fewer worries as he would get home later in the evening. He buried himself in his business and left little time for his family. I had been suppressed my feelings up to this point but things where about to change. As puberty hit I began to feel even more of a disconnect with my body than ever. Since my earliest memories I never felt my parts belonged to me. It was like a cruel joke someone played on me. The new changes where taking me 100% in the opposite direction than my heart told me I should be going. I began to immerse myself in my music (I played trumpet) and started to draw again. I would sit in my room and sketch for hours. Images of a little girl (me) standing there crying as kids around her laugh. Another one of I’m looking into the mirror, what I see is an image ripped right down the middle. The left side appears more male while the right side appears more female. The two sides merge and blend at the ripped center. I felt torn between what I felt and what society says I should be. There didn’t seem to be any way to get around the fact that I would spend the rest of my life never being me. The music was a creative outlet for me and allowed me to take my mind off what was going on. These were my havens. Close your eyes and listen to the music, anyone could be playing it. So I did, I stood on my bed with my eyes closed and I practiced my heart out. It was my first way to express my gender. Yet no one ever knew why I had the passion for music. I knew, and at the time that was enough. I had to find some way of expressing myself without outing me. I was not ready at this time have the world know my secret. The drawing and music allowed me to do this. I was too early in the process to know how to express what I felt.

It would take a long time for me to accept my fate and finally be open about my past, for some of my past still lies in the background. But it was not till after getting married and having two wonderful kids who are in college know did I come to a point in my journey were I felt I could not do this anymore. I did everything that society ask of me and I was not happy. I loved my wife and kids, yet the burning desire to be true to how I was became so strong there had to be an outlet. I finally came out to my family.

Coming out to my family was scary for me. I had brothers that I cared for very much and worried of losing them to the news I was about to tell them. For some reason I didn’t feel as nervous about telling my mother, but we had gone through a lot together other the years with my father I felt she may somehow understand. She told me that evening that she wondered about it for years but did not want to say anything in case my father caught on. I told her I wished she would have talked to me, at least she may have listened and helped me. We gave each other big hugs and cried. My brothers took it better than I thought they might. One told me that they knew something was different about me. He would see me in my mother’s closet while I tried on her clothes. He never told me he was spying on me when I would have mu little tea parties and such. My father reacted by saying “make sure it had nothing to do with my childhood”. I told him that I have always been like this no matter how much he does not want to believe it. And then he changed the subject and refused to go back to the topic. My kids accepted the news well but it took some time for my wife to come to terms with the news. She has come a long way in accepting my gender issues and we are working together in our journey. If it was not for the knowledge I gained from the many articles and personal stories I’ve discovered over the years I would not have had the courage to come out. Discovering I had options was the biggest relief I felt from all the stories.

What I found to be true for me is that the coming out process is one that each individual has to take at their own time frame. It took many years for me to be ready with the information and words to explain how it felt to be me. I still have a lot further to go than I wish I did, but by taking it one day at a time I’m slowly making progress to where I want to be. I want to be fully out and fulltime. I spent my life trying so hard to fit in that I wrapped a wall around me to hide the little girl that so desperately wanted out, now taking down these walls down one brick at a time. I have yet to live my life completely, but the mirror is slowly changing to a single image of a women looking back. No more ripped images, gone are the days of the ripped images, but I still see him in the shadows fading away. Coming out has given me a way to express myself like never before. It has lifted a burden off my shoulders of keeping the wall up and allowed me to be myself.

I admire the families I see today that that have unconditional love for their child and support their needs. I didn’t need to be told I was not a girl with each belt swipe. Gender variant children need the support of their families more than ever during this time. Listen to your children. They need your understanding and trust. They don’t need to be told there going to hell or beaten into submission. They need an understanding ear to listen to what they are telling you. These children would do so much better with support of their families and piers. A supportive family may be the one thing that saves your child’s life in a time of crisis. It’s not a fun place to have lost all hope and don’t have a place to turn. No one to talk to! Alone! I felt that more times than I care to think. Something inside me kept me going though. The simple fact that I have not yet lived my life as authentic as it could be, keeps me going toward my goals. It may be a slow pace, but it’s mine. I now have hope of a future that looks a little brighter.


Melissa said...

Michelle, with a homophobic mother, that treated me very similar to how your father treated you :-(, let me just give you a great big hug, and say I completely sympathize with you!

Yes! Children need to be accepted and loved for who they are, regardless of conventional wisdom about gender roles!

Now Michelle sweetie, you really have got to do something about the infrequency of your blog postings! One post a year, will never do! How are we supposed to keep on adoring you, at that measly rate? :-)

Melissa XX

Debbie K said...

Dear Michelle
What an incredible, from the heart, honest, thoughtful. moving post.

You say so succinctly in one post so much of what life in the shadow of GD can be like

Your words touched my heart. Your wisdom that the pace of change has to be yours resonates with me so much.

I hope & pray one day you reach your goal. You deserve to be happy.

Debbie x

Michelle said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm on taking more time for the blog. I know a lot of people are talking about coming out these days, but some are not ready to come out for whatever reason. I took it at my own pace. So far it's been working for me. I'm mostly out now and hoping to take the next step soon.

Emily Shorette said...


What a spooky,sad, and scary story. But you wound up a wise woman with depth in your heart. Good for you.

would appreciate it if you read my blog, The blog is a virtual compendium of articles from newspapers, newsweeklies, and magazines, both popular and scholarly. The articles have a viewpoint toward transgender / transsexual news. If you like it, please put
"Emily's virtual rocket "under the title commonly called
"Blogroll". Thank you so much!