Some people are uncomfortable with that, for various reasons. When their reactions are difficult for me to process, it helps me to remind myself that the “earth is flat” folks probably had similar (and worse) reactions to being informed that the earth is actually not flat.
The principles I use are:
- If someone is negative, he doesn’t deserve an explanation. He can think whatever he wants to. He can ask questions if he likes, but if the questions have a negative attitude, I don’t need to be in that conversation. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. It’s a privilege. Someone needs to be, at a minimum, polite and open-minded for me to be in a conversation with him.
- I don’t need anyone’s validation for the concept of being transgender. The existence of a transgender condition has been scientifically proven. If someone is uncomfortable with that fact, it makes it no less of a fact than the earth being round.
- I don’t need to convince anyone that I’m transgender. I have looked at the evidence and I have drawn my conclusion. The evidence was gleaned by introspection and by my observations as to my own behavior. Nobody has better access to this evidence than I do. It’s sort of like I’ve been an astronaut, been in a rocket that rose higher and higher and by looking out the window, I personally saw the shape of the earth. Someone who has a less-rich perspective might not be convinced that the earth is round, but there are enough facts for me to be convinced.
- If someone is genuinely benevolent and open-minded yet has a hard time reconciling how I look and sound to me being transgender, I explain it with reference to the effects that hormones have during puberty. Male hormones make the person’s throat develop so as to have a deep voice and a prominent Adam’s Apple, make the person taller, make the person’s hands and feet larger, make the person’s brow and forehead have a different shape, and so on. So, it’s kind of like someone saying “but look, the earth really does look flat” and then they need some additional explanation to resolve their puzzlement.
- My sexual preference is as much part of my own personal brain wiring as me being transgender. Not that it’s anyone else’s business, but yes, being transgender has implications as to interpreting my sexual preference. Just to be clear: someone can be:
- Transgender.and straight (e.g., a transgender girl who is sexually attracted to guys)
- Transgender.and gay (e.g., a transgender girl who is sexually attracted to girls)
- Transgender.and bisexual (e.g., a transgender girl who is sexually attracted to both guys and girls)
- Me being transgender doesn’t make me a good person or a bad person. Anyone’s moral approval or condemnation is irrelevant. If someone has issues with me being transgender, then he has issues and can deal with them however he wants. They’re not my issues; they’re his issues.
- It’s happened that someone has over the years gotten used to the premise of me being a guy, and voiced the preference to keep dealing with me as such. Such a person can deal with me however he likes, but it makes little sense to treat a girl as if she were a guy, and if he insists, I might choose not to deal with him as much or at all. I understand it’s hard for him, but it’s hard for me too. Asking me to pretend I’m a guy makes as much sense as me asking him to pretend he’s a girl. To apply the analogy: I’m not going to help someone pretend the earth is flat.
- I don’t need anyone’s permission to be transgender. I am transgender. I’m making people aware, as a courtesy. If they don’t like the fact, it’s as irrelevant as them disliking the earth being round.
Coming out takes energy. I deal with the process at a manageable pace so that I don’t feel overwhelmed.
- In the same way as someone else can’t make me behave in the way he likes, the opposite is true too. If someone prefers to treat me as a guy even while knowing I’m not, I don’t have a right to being treated differently. If someone chooses to be awkward or rude with me, I don’t have to deal with them, but I also don’t have the right to be treated in any particular way except that nobody gets to initiate violence against my person or my property.
- I don’t have a right to someone else’s property any more than I have a right to their approval. If someone prefers not to trade with me, such as in the context of business or housing, he has that right. Even if he’s making bad decisions for the wrong reasons, he still has a right to his property and if he doesn’t want to trade with me, he doesn’t have to. I don’t agree with laws or lawsuits that would force people to trade with me if they don’t want to.
* * *
Story from personal experience: I grew up in South Africa at a time when many people were racist and some were not. The law was officially racist.
I have personally seen how the market mechanism punishes irrationality and unfair discrimination, without violating anyone’s rights. I have seen those who are open-minded and fair-minded have access to more employees and customers, and they did better in business, as a result. They also saved money. For a while, I worked at an automobile assembly plant. Officially, there was supposed to be a separate cafeteria for those with white skins and those with black skins. “Screw that” was the company’s policy, and it had one cafeteria for everyone. And, everyone shared the cafeteria and got along just fine.
In that same country, I also personally ran my own little business. I bought old cars, fixed them up and re-sold them. Having a white skin, I was by law forbidden to go into certain areas that were officially off-limits to me, but when I had a customer who wasn’t white, I went to his place to deliver his car anyway even though it happened to be illegal. So, I wasn’t just fighting injustice but also made more money — and friends.
* * *
Coming out might open a few doors for me socially and professionally but to the extent that there are unreasonable people in life, it also closes doors. That is not fair but I don’t have the right to people being fair or reasonable. Many people are not. So, I deal with them less, or I avoid them.
I also don’t try to win them over. It’s not a good use of my time or energy. Instead, I find people who are positive and accepting towards me.
One exception: my mom. She had huge issues with my conclusion. I chose to invest a lot of time and energy into conversations with her. It seemed like a lost cause for many months. For a while, I regretted all the time and energy I had spent. Then, one day, things finally got resolved so now I’m glad that I persevered.
This might mean that I need to focus on places that are geographically remote and where friendly and accepting people do live.
Even though I live in a city that some might not consider all that transgender-friendly, I have found people here to be overwhelmingly positive. I ended up not having to move geographically so as to find enough social acceptance in which to function well personally and professionally.
This seems to be a big factor in one-on-one interaction. I smile at someone, and he or she smiles back even though I’m clearly transgender (for example, my make-up looks nice but my jaw is just a little too wide, my brow too sharp, my chin too manly, and my voice too male-sounding). And still, most people smile back at me, and are nice.
Sometimes, a person (almost always a male teenager) has a homophobic reaction but I understand that too and I take it as a compliment while also being on guard as to what next he’s going to do to convince himself and whoever is watching that he’s not attracted to me, in the same way as little boys in elementary school are mean to the girl to whom they are attracted, to their supreme embarrassment.
At the extreme negative end of the scale, in case someone chooses to be violent to me, I’m equipped well enough to handle that too.
Some appreciate my courage and attitude, some are intrigued by my journey, some are sexually aroused, and some simply prefer to interact with the female of the species.
Also, I have received enough compliments as to how I look, transgender or not, that I do part-time sexy modeling, on cam and in person. I make good money doing that. For whatever reason, to some people, how I look is very sexy. And part of that might well be the fact that I’m transgender. As such, I do appeal to a small niche market. Were I not transgender, then I’d have to compete outside that niche market, and there are millions and millions of very, very, very attractive genetically integrated girls in that market. There are a great many very attractive transgender girls too, but even so the transgender niche market is comparatively small.
All in all, even though I probably have a reduced set of opportunities, life goes on and I’m happy, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how accepting the people around me are.