For us transgender people, as well as gay and lesbian folks, the coming out process is pretty much unavoidable as some point. Keeping secrets takes a heavy toll over time. We have to be very careful about EVERYTHING that we do. People that we know well, spouses, significant others, relatives, close friends, et al, will notice if we respond to a question in an odd way or leave some tell-tale sign that doesn’t make sense or that we don’t have a plausible explanation. People will pick up on something being “off”. They won’t know what it is specifically, but they know that what they are seeing or hearing is outside of what they expected.
On CDH, for example, we’ve seen many stories about people maintaining their secret for long periods of time, only to leave some piece of clothing not put away or a stray web site in their history list. The situation blows up and it is downhill from there.
Obviously there is the realization that the person in front of you is not the person that you thought them to be. But also another major point is continuing to carry forth a lie. The sense of betrayal is a very powerful emotion. To an extent, humans do possess flexibility, but betrayal is hard to forgive.
Taken in aggregate, these two things should make us wonder if there is any way to avoid this situation, or at least minimize it. Personally, I don’t believe that we can effectively avoid coming out. Our actions, at some point, are likely to be our undoing. Further, think of all the effort that we would put into maintaining our secrets. That is energy that we could put to better use and more purposeful endeavors.
However, what often happens for us is that fear overrules our intelligence. Logically, we know keeping our secrets indefinitely will not work. Logically, we also know when our secrets become known accidentally, things are instantly thrown into chaos. So, what do we do?
I’ve mentioned the saying attributed to Hemingway, but the thought process is much older than that. The saying is:
A coward dies many deaths,
A brave man only once.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that if we don’t come out, we are cowards. The saying comes from a wartime mentality and that is not our situation. But, what it does speak to is the power that fear holds over us. Every day that we live in fear detracts from all that we could be.
Also, I’m not saying that we should blindly run into a buzzsaw. That won’t do anyone any good. But, our chances improve greatly if we put conscious thought into what we need to say and we get agreement that the other person will allow you space to say what you need to say. Whatever happens after that is what happens. But, at the very least, you have stated how you feel and your perspective on how things sit.
Is there a Magic Bullet here? No, there are no assurances that everything will go as you like. Life doesn’t work that way. But, with thought and sincerity, I think a potential avalanche can be morphed into something more like inclement weather.
So, Thoughts Anyone?