I’m trans. Transgender. Rather genderqueer. Definitely not a woman. Probably not a man, either. I’m trans, and I’m proud of it.
I’m not particularly attached to any set of pronouns right now, but I’d really prefer something other than feminine pronouns. I generally try to use gender-neutral pronouns (I think of myself using they/them/their, but I also accept ze/hir), although I’ve been experimenting with masculine pronouns lately.
I’m going by Ryan now. It’s been brilliant, being in Chicago — GenderQueer Chicago is like starting anew, a fresh slate with people who have never known me as a woman. They’ve never known me as anyone other than Ryan. They simply accept me as who I am and allow me to explore who I want to be. I feel like I’m absolutely thriving in this environment.
For me, gender is a bit like a journey, a bit like exploration. My conception of myself, and how I present myself, has changed over time. I don’t feel that gender has to be static in order to be legitimate. I definitely believe that gender doesn’t need to stay within the binary. How I present, how I identify — there’s so much more to it than just “woman” or “man.” Those categories simply don’t fit.
Coming out is risky, nerve-wracking, and more than a little terrifying. I know that gender is often a very sensitive subject. I know that many people don’t understand the concept of gender that goes beyond the binary categories of man and woman. I know that many religions have, to be diplomatic, mixed feelings on transgender identities.
For me, though, coming out is also freeing. It’s liberating. It allows me to do away with the secrets and the self-censoring. It allows me to stop pretending to be something I’m not. I refuse to hide in the closet as though being trans is something of which to be ashamed. I am not ashamed of who I am.
Being out as trans is such a whirlwind of emotions. I feel, at the same time, both exhilarated and more at peace with myself. Being allows me to share to who I am with people, instead of trying to live up to some incorrect and uncomfortable assumption of womanhood. When people think that I am a woman, it feels as though there is this ever-widening chasm between us. They only know so much about me, about who I feel myself to be, about what’s important to me. There are misdirections and things left unsaid that push us apart. I can’t really be myself — they can’t really see me as myself — if I’m assumed to be a woman. For me, being out is the only way to have truly authentic relationships with people, and the chance to have real and honest relationships with the people about whom I care is worth the risk.
To quote Riki Wilchins, “This is who I am, this is how I feel about myself, this is how I want you to see me.”