Yet More Coming Out, Now With Pronouns

It’s been an eventful few weeks since I last posted. I went into a bit of a tailspin and then discovered that my new allergy medicine listed “suicidal depression” as a possible side effect. Switched to a different medicine and climbed back out of that trough, but it was a bit of a tough row to hoe. Then my mom, who has cancer, had a health crisis that was briefly terrifying. Just as that resolved, a family friend went in for surgery for a brain tumor, and a different friend’s father dropped dead. I postponed a trip to Nashville, spent a lot of time on the phone and with friends, and went to a funeral. In amongst all that, you’d think I’d just put the gender exploration on hold, but not so!

No, actually, I’ve done a whole bunch of stuff. A lot of coming-out-as-trans stuff in particular.

I started with creating a “Somewhere in the Middle” group at my church. You may recall I wrote earlier about my unease with my church’s men’s group and women’s group. My pastor and a friend in the choir, who both read this blog, (and a few of you in cyberspace, too) suggested I create a genderqueer group. And… I did. Stole the name from this blog, because hey, it’s a good name.  I announced the group at church, created a mailing list, and there are nine people signed up for the group, which is great! We’re starting by reading S. Bear Bergman’s book The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You. (I’ve never led a book group, so anyone with suggestions on how to do so, be my guest. We start meetings in May.)

I kind of figured I was coming out at church by starting the group, but it wasn’t like I said, “Hey Guys, I’m Trans-ish.” So I came out some more last Sunday. We have a project going on at church in which congregation members contribute one-minute stories about themselves and their spiritual journeys, to be read aloud during services. This was mine:

I Once Was Bound, But Now I’m Free

Ironically, it was binding that set me free. And unlike Sampson, who lost his strength when Delilah cut his hair, I was empowered in ways I never expected when I cut my long hair off, bound my breasts flat, and could finally see reflected in the mirror a person that looked a little like the me inside. I’ve known since I was very small that I wasn’t really a girl. When I cut my hair I felt as if I were taking off a disguise I’d been wearing my entire life.

Thucydides, a Greek historian and author born four hundred sixty years before Jesus said, “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom, courage.”

Being here [at PMCC], being part of this community, and coming to understand that the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine are both embodied in me, that God’s Love always surrounds me, has given me the courage to be who I am: to be truly, joyfully free.

Later in the same service I sang Amazing Grace set to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. (I have an MP3, which if you pester me for, I’ll figure out how to share.) Several people came to me after the service and told me the song had moved them. A few others came to me to tell me they supported my bravery in exploring a transgendered identity. Wow. So. Yeah. More out.

I also came out to two close friends. Stu, it turns out, is a reader of this blog (you’d think I’d know these things) so, uh… Yeah, I was already way out to him, we just hadn’t talked about it yet. He immediately offered to switch pronouns, and named me “Uncle Nezu” to his two-year old daughter. (This makes two kids to whom I am now an honorary uncle, as two other friends declared me Uncle Nezu to their wee one just a couple weeks ago. Makes me so happy!)

The other friend I came out to is also my choir director. I broached the subject by asking how he’d feel if I were to, say, start singing baritone or bass. And then, with my heart in my throat, told him I was considering hormone therapy. He said, “Cool. You’re practically a tenor anyway,” and he pretty much told me I was a little silly for worrying about how he’d take it, when I confessed how nervous I’d been. Which in the context was the total right thing to do.

Also I started seeing a gender therapist. (Actually I did that before those last two conversations, but the storytelling flows better if I lead with the coming out stories.) In preparation for that I filled out what turned into a thirty-page essay on my personal psychological and medical history. Yes, it really is that complex. In part, though, it’s so lengthy because I have spent so much time working on my issues. I’m way past the “beginner therapy” stage, and feel good about that.

In the course of writing that intake form, I think I’ve created the seeds of a letter I could send to my dad and other family and less close friends explaining my gender explorations, when it comes time to do that, so that’s good, too. I’ll probably share that here in a future post, before I send it.

I also changed the spelling of the name. Well, my other name, I’m still Nezu which is nice and gender-neutral. But my other name has a nickname which I have gone by since high school, which is usually a boy’s name. Back in high school, when I was trying so hard to be a girl, I spelled it with a trailing “i”. I’ve taken back the “y” form now, which feels a lot more right. Changed it in Facebook and everything. My dad noticed, but I chickened out and told him I was changing it because I’d outgrown the “i” spelling, which, while technically true, might count as a lie of omission.

So yeah. Out, out, out. I didn’t have a good answer for my friend Stu about what pronouns to use for me, though. I’m still aiming for the middle, it seems. Aunt is totally wrong, Uncle fits. She is something I’m accustomed to even if it isn’t quite right, He feels sort of wrong, and Ze… Is probably right, but offends my writer’s ear.

I’ll close with an anecdote. My friend whose father passed away was raised Catholic, and her family were quite devout, so the funeral was a full Catholic mass. My friend raised some concerns about whether the Catholics would have a problem with me, with my genderqueerness and blue hair, but I said as long as she was okay with me being there, I wanted to attend the funeral, as I had been quite fond of her dad.

I did worry about what to wear and whether there was anything I needed to know, and called Rev T and her wife who was raised Catholic, for advice on comportment. Settled on a black dress shirt, grey wool  slacks, black wingtips, and no tie. I figured a tie might push boundaries just a little too far. It all went fine, and though I think some of the people there thought I was male and some thought  was female, no one seemed too perturbed. Then came the dreaded moment: at the reception, I needed to use the bathroom. I stood hesitating in the hallway, with the men’s room on my right and the women’s on my left. Finally picked women’s, on the theory that, well, techncally…

I got a couple of beady-eyed looks from the women in there, and I rushed, and avoided eye-contact, but I washed my hands like a civilized person and didn’t flee.

I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable with public restrooms again.

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~ by Nezu on 11 April 2011.

2 Responses to “Yet More Coming Out, Now With Pronouns”

  1. *hugs you so hard* Pronouns are stupid. That is my considered opinion today.

    I think I told you this already, but we took the gendered signs off our church washrooms. I love my little, trying to be open-minded congregation.

    Also – my default for book study is:

    1) Check in – “How is everyone today?” or “What’s been happening since we last met?”

    2) “What jumped out/resonated for you in this set of readings?”

    And then I let the conversations go wherever, occasionally calling back if necessary, and be a bit mindful of whether everyone has a chance to contribute.

    *hugs you again, just ’cause*

  2. Gendered bathrooms suck and I figured that out WAY before I figured out people come in lots of varieties. Just never made any sense to me that there would be an empty bathroom for boys with girls lined up at the other one.

    I explained to kiddo that in Europe there are commonly just bathrooms and no signs at all. She, being 9 and very rule conscious, said then it would be ok to use it but if it has a boys sign on it she doesn’t want to use it. Doesn’t want to break the rules.

    So I think we should break the rules and remove the signs wherever possible!

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