Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Coming Out V8.0

"Coming out trans felt like catching the ground.
Learning a dance all my own, learning that a dance
COULD be my own, and that a dance works best when
two bodies that know themselves move, and catch
each other in the groove." --Scott Turner Schofield

I hesitated about posting anything at all this year, yet I realize that this day is more important than it ever has been, not only given the current political and social climate, but also because this day represents my evolution as a human being: Each year since coming out for the first time in late 2008, my identity has evolved to encompass aspects of my being I could not know or accept in years prior.

I remember crying a lot that first time I came out. I remember the fear and the feeling that I had just lost the future I had planned for myself. But it was the first time I had looked into another person's eyes and felt the connection between our souls. It would be about another year before I could look into my own and see the same thing.

I've floated through as many identities as I have addresses over the past eight years. Femininity was something I used to fear expressing, feeling that it detracted from my own masculinity in some way--as if these binary extremes existed in opposition rather than in conjunction with one another. As if they were the only words that could describe the essence of a soul. Over time, I evolved from a straight tomboy to genderqueer (maybe) to transman to butch twink to definitely-not-a-twink to simply myself. If I had to place words on my experience, I would tell you that I am a queer autistic transman happily engaged to a cisgender gay man (though the identity crises and loss of trans visibility weren't always easy to handle). I'm also a bodybuilder and entertainer who has dealt with life-altering chronic pain, which may or may not have an identifiable cause or cure at this point. So, more on that.

That last bit--the pain--has been more difficult to handle than anything I've ever experienced. Some days, I wake up before the pain registers, thinking that this will be the day it all ends, the day I can begin to live as myself again. My experience of myself is deeply connected to my physical abilities and always has been. The dysphoria these days is rather different. I don't feel like myself at all. I feel like a stranger, like I'm viewing the world through glass and just can't break through to join the others. I've used the same words to describe my experiences with autism, and with being perceived as a woman. I've always suspected the intersection of these feelings, but the impact is more evident now than ever, when I feel more trapped by my body than I have ever been due to these limitations.

I've been told to give up looking for answers, when seven months ago I had begun to deadlift and incorporate basic plyometrics back into my workouts. Now, getting dressed is a stretch sometimes. Five years from now, I may be willing to call it quits on figuring this out. But today, I can come out as a queer autistic transman living with chronic pain. I can accept that reality, without accepting that these limitations must be permanent. I can accept where I am and still desire better from myself and the medical professionals from whom I have sought help.

I come out today to remind everyone out there living on the outskirts of "normal" that the beauty of these experiences far outweighs what anyone can say in an attempt to denounce your identity. I come out as someone who has been homeless (albeit briefly), who has lived in poverty, who has "failed", who has received inpatient mental health treatment more than half a dozen times, who continues to struggle every day. But I also come out as someone who has not given up, largely thanks to the support of those within my community, each of whom has their own equally complex coming out story to tell. Our stories connect us in a world determined to drive us apart. Our stories make it a little easier for others to tell their own, increasing our visibility, making us feel so much less alone, and ensuring that our voices do not remain silent when our very lives seem to be at stake.

Thank you for sticking with me until now, here and always. I love you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Dylan. It's Camiele. I don't know if you remember me, and I'm sorry it's been years since I last contacted you. I hate to do this, I really do, but I didn't know how else to contact you and I sort of have an interesting if not odd question to ask you.

    I'll keep this relatively short.

    My younger cousin (she just turned 21 six days ago) confessed to me that she's having a hard time understanding her gender identity. I know this sounds dumb coming from me, I realize. But she may be thinking of transitioning. And while I'm always going to support her, her mother is... difficult. When she came out as gay... it wasn't good. Now she's seeing someone to help her sort through her issues, but she hasn't been able to talk to her own mother about what she feels. The only advice I could give her, as a cis-woman, is that she needs to find out who she truly is away from any input from anybody, whether positive or negative. I also told her she needs to actually talk to people who've gone through the transition, who have been where she is now.

    I mentioned that I had a friend who transitioned in college. That friend, obviously, was you. I didn't want to tell her that you'd be able to help her, but I said that I would reach out to you and ask if you might be able to talk to her, just talk to her and maybe give her an idea about what you went through emotionally and mentally.

    I don't want to burden you with this. Especially since I couldn't be a decent enough friend to stay in contact with you all these years. But I am coming to you, asking if you could talk to my cousin. She's just in a really confusing and frightening place, and I want her to know that she's not alone and that there are people who she can talk to to try to sort out what she's feeling.

    Okay... so I said this would be short and I ended up word vomitting all over the place... HaHa. I'm sorry about that, about coming to you out of the blue like this. But I can't help her any further than supporting her because I don't have firsthand experience with what she's going through.

    All this to ask, could I pass along her email to you? I didn't promise her anything, just that I'd ask. If you're not comfortable talking to her, I completely understand. I only ask if maybe you know of anyone she may be able to talk to before she makes a decision based on fear and anger.

    Thank you, and forgive me for being so long-winded. I hope life is treating you well. I hope that you've been happy more than you've been sad. *hugs you*