National Coming Out Day

 

It’s #nationalcomingoutday, which has me reflecting on my coming out experience. I spent the better part of high school in the closet as queer, then the first few years of my adult life in the closet as transgender. Only since I was about 22-years-old have I been OUT, completely and unabashedly.

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For me, as a trans person, I feel like I come out on an almost daily basis. When a childhood detail comes up, when I talk about my work in the LGBTQ+ community, if someone asks about the sports I played, if I take my shirt off and bear my scars, or literally anytime someone meets my identical twin sister — I’m constantly having to come out as trans and am lucky to have the privilege and ability to do so safely and be out as myself.

As a kid, I grew up thinking being gay was wrong and I had absolutely zero frame of reference as far as trans people were concerned. I didn’t know I was trans growing up, it took me a long time to come to terms with the idea, but had I known that transitioning was an option and that gender isn’t always straightforward (or what we are assigned at birth) it might have been an easier road to where I am today.

I hope my visibility shows other people who are still figuring themselves out that there are people like them out there. That you can live life authentically, happily and healthily. It’s okay if it takes you a while to get where you need to go because everyone’s timing is different. We all have our own levels of comfort, our own safety concerns and our own desires for whether or not we want to be or can be visible. All of those reasons are valid. I don’t believe there is a right way to come out, just as there is no right way to be queer or trans or a human being, for that matter. On days like today we need to encourage those who come out and who may have lost support for doing so, or may feel scared — but also need to acknowledge those who are still not out, even if we don’t know who they are, and hope that they still know they are loved and accepted and they are not wrong for who they are.

When I first came out as a lesbian 8 years ago, I had no idea what my future had in store. I never truly imagined a future to be honest, because I was so lost and confused in my own identity. It felt like a feat in itself to just live through the present one second at a time. Today I’m standing here as a queer trans man and am happier than fucking ever. I can’t wait for what’s in store in the next year, in five years, in forty years when I’m a grumpy old tattooed grandpa. Coming out, but more importantly transitioning, gave me a future I could never have even dreamed of before.

I love all of y’all who have supported my journey and reassured me that this visibility is worth it. Thank you for following along, thank you for giving me reasons to keep going on days it felt like stopping would just be easier, and most of all thanks for being you.

 
Chris Rhodes