Is being out better than keeping the parts of you that might challenge someone else hidden?
And if being out is better, who is it better for: just for the person who is out, as they indulge their own desires, or is it better for a wider group, such as kids like us, our companies, our communities or even for our families?
If we can’t make the case that out is better, not just because it would indulge pour desire to dress up but because it will make relationships better, unlocking more engagement, openness. creativity and compassion, then those around us will see their job to be resisting our emergence as just indulgent and destructive.
If they believe that their job is to keep you safe, is to keep the family safe and intact, then they will believe that sabotaging you is a holy mission. They will work to quibble your passion away to nothing, working to make your emergence as touch and challenged as possible.
How can you make the case that out is better, not just for your erotic desires but for your life and especially for the lives of those with whom you are in relationship?
In the 1980s, when TBB and I came out, it was hard to make the case that emerging as transgender was not just indulging your Eros and putting the cost on those around you, but that emergence could actually make you a better person — a better leader, a better partner, a better parent, a better you.
For me, this is all based in moving away from models that identify trans as something on the outside to trans as something deep inside the person.
When we first met, TBB had real resistance to my core belief that trans symbols revealed trans meaning. Her identity was bound up in being a crossdresser, someone who was a real man in the world but who just likes to dress up now and then. My saying that those behaviours revealed a trans heart inside was something that she needed to deny to stay in position.
At the same time, those who identified as transsexual wanted to assert that they were always really female, they just had a little birth defect. They searched for differential diagnoses to prove themselves as real transsexuals, fundamentally different from drags and crossdressers and transgenders who had choice (1996), just playing with gender. My saying that their behaviours revealed a trans heart inside was something they needed to deny to stay in position.
The resistance to trans emergence from therapeutic professionals, though has changed significantly over the years. They have seen enough transpeople who found their own integration and actualization when they could step out from behind the armour of denial they carried, allowing them to own their own feelings, becoming open hearted to themselves and to others who need them. Emerging meant their own stuff no longer gets in the way, which made them more responsive and responsible.
This isn’t easy to convey to someone who sees their dreams, their family and their way of life threatened by change. Partners know that their job is to stop spouses from doing stupid, indulgent and damaging things, being taught that training and controlling is a key part of the job.
For me, the work of Brené Brown (she’s Oprah Approved!) has been important in explaining why no one can ever just feel part of their feelings, getting clear while keeping part of who they are strictly off limits. Ms. Brown’s focus on moving beyond shame has been powerful to me, echoing work I first started doing based on John Bradshaw.
Ms. Brown’s message is compelling to women, which is a good thing.
In my experience, to help others find the way to their own healing, the way past their own fear and shame, the way to engaging change and possibility, we first have to do the work for ourselves. It is by our own healing that we move forward the healing of those around us, the healing of our community, the healing of our world
You are the only one who knows what the right next steps in emergence are for you, how to balance family, work and self. For me, though, the ultimate trans surgery is when you pull the broomstick out of your own ass, striving not to jump from box to box but rather to be really present and authentic.
I believe that emerging as trans, even if that doesn’t involve hormones or surgery or even living full time in your target gender, can help you drop your armour, be more present and be better in relationships and in the world.
I really believe that out is better, because it allows us to emerge and do the work of growth and healing in the world in a way that staying hidden, stuck and polite will never let us do.
If we don’t do the work, though, if we resist our own inner journey, instead just demanding that others take us as we are, are we really opening ourselves to revelation and healing?