For National Coming Out Day, I have decided to write about my own coming out story. Now unlike a lot of people you might read about, my coming out took quite awhile and had a slew of different reactions to the news. So who am I? I am Trent. A gay transgender man. Double whammy there! I’ve got the G and the T on LGBT. For a very long time, I identified as a straight woman, was married, had two children, but I wasn’t happy. I knew something wasn’t right, deep down inside, but I shoved it away and ignored it for so many years. I guess we should start at my first coming out though, before we go into detail of my final coming out. I was sixteen the first time I came out. Back then, I didn’t know what it meant to be transgender. I didn’t have a word for it, I didn’t have resources that told me what I was experiencing, was something others had dealt with too. I spent my highschool years trying to figure out who I was. I was straight, I was bisexual, I was a lesbian, and finally, I was transgender. It was this label, which fit. It sewed so nicely into the fabric of my life. The term itself was invisible to me, but would show itself later in my life, when I was ready to accept it once again. I didn’t know the word, but the label was there, the feeling it brought me, was what fit.
I went to my mother, who herself is a lesbian. She came out to me when I was nine years old, but this is my coming out story, and not hers. I told her that I felt like I was supposed to be a man, and that I wanted to be a man. She accepted it, mostly. She was confused, didn’t really understand and neither did I really. When I was eighteen, I was shoved back into the proverbial closet by society. I was pushed in with the pink clothes, the glitter and the tiaras. I was told by society, not my mother, but society, that I was a girl and needed to act like it. I gave into the pressures, entered one straight relationship after another, never satisfied with myself or the relationship I was in.
My belief that I was supposed to be a man, was forgotten about. Mostly. I refused to listen to him, put duct tape over his mouth and quieted him for ten years. During those ten years, I got married and had two kids. I played the wife role, the female role, but there was always something missing. No matter what I did with my life, I knew that something wasn’t right.
In July of 2016, a friend of mine came out as transgender. Through researching things for them, he came out again. Trent. He ripped that duct tape off, and he screamed for his freedom. The realization took a bit to sink in for me, but by the middle of August I knew what I was, who I was, who I wanted to be. I told my mother first. She wasn’t exactly shocked, but she didn’t want to believe it either. She told me many times that she wished I would change my mind, as if one can change their mind on such a thing. She told me over and over that I was wrong, that there was no way. She supported me, but she didn’t support me at the same time. The final week of August, I came out to my then husband. I tried to lead it up with something grand, tried to ease him into it all, but he just got annoyed with my constant barrage of words that didn’t give him answers.
“I’m transgender!” I yelled it at him as we were driving home. It felt so amazing to say it out loud to him. I had had such bad anxiety thinking of how to tell him. My heart was beating so fast. The relief was instant, a weight off my shoulders, and my husband, he just sat there in silence. Then he told me I wasn’t. He said there was no way. Told me I was delusional. I was wrong. Said he would leave me, because he wasn’t gay. We got into a huge argument, with me trying to get him to see me as the man I am, and not the wife he believed I was. In the end, I was pushed back into the closet, but only partially. I couldn’t take the arguing, and I was afraid. At the time of my coming out, I had no job and was a stay at home mom. He was the breadwinner, I just took care of the kids when they got out of school. I had nowhere to go, and I was scared. So I told him he was right. Told him I was wrong.
For the next two weeks, I shrank into silence and misery. Daily panic attacks became part of my life. I feared for what I was to do. I tried over and over to give up on what I was feeling, to push him out again, to put the duct tape back over his mouth. Except the duct tape never lasted more than a minute. I learned how strong I was through him, the real me. I couldn’t go back in that closet. It was impossible.
Middle of September I came out again, this time in an email I sent to my husband.
That night he read it, and he came into our bedroom. “We’re getting a divorce. We’re done. You don’t get anymore chances.” His words were cold, the fire in his eyes showed his anger. We fought once more, and just like that, he threatened to take my kids from me. My very life, my sole reason for existing in the muck of denying who I was. They were the only things that had made me happy, that had pushed me to keep going, and he was telling me he would take them. I would lose them forever. He manipulated me, and played me like a violin. I fell right into his trap and I told him I was wrong, AGAIN. The fear of losing my children put me back, at least in his eyes. I knew who I was, and I took actions into my own hands.
The beginning of October, I moved out with my kids, told him I needed time to find out who I was. Who I was, was Trent, and we both knew it. Since then, he has finally come to accept me, we’ve filed for divorce and I moved back up here to Texarkana in July of this year.
I publicly came out on Facebook and changed my name to Trent, in November, the day Donald Trump was elected. I felt it was the perfect time to show everyone that if they had voted for him, they had condemned me. I had several friends remove me from their friends list, one such person was a longtime friend from 9th grade. She went quietly, never said anything, but blocked and removed me. A few others welcomed me with open arms, and were very kind. My grandmother removed me from Facebook, and now when she comes around, things are rather awkward and tense.
As for being gay, well, that was surprisingly easier. Most people just assume it, since I was straight when I identified as a female. Some have been rather rude with it, asking ridiculous questions such as “if you like men, why don’t you just stay as a woman?” These questions have irked me, because these people prove their ignorance on what it means to be trans. It isn’t something I asked for, it’s not something I wished for, and it’s not something I can change. Just as I can’t change that I’m attracted to men, regardless of what my gender is. People wish to fit me into a box, but just like the closet, I don’t like enclosed spaces with doors and lids.
I think for a lot of my friends, they either accept that I’m gay with no problems, or they don’t fully see me as a man, and therefore it’s easier for them to accept that I am attracted to men. I find that sad, but the only thing that will change their views, is knowledge and awareness.
That’s it for me. I came out, and I’m not going back in there. My family knows, my Facebook friends know, my best friend knows, my job knows. I came out, because I couldn’t stand lying to myself anymore. The door is open, and I’m never closing it again.