Tonight, I’ll be heading to a corporate outing where everyone else is director level or higher. In the past, I would’ve pulled down the mask I’ve worn my entire adult life, found something appropriately feminine, and been crawling out of my skin all night. In fact, that’s exactly what I was planning to do, right down to laughing off my best friend (one of the directors) commented that she’d do my makeup in the backseat of our regional manager’s car on the way there.
I came up with so many reasons justifying my outfit choice: a flowy black top (one of the team’s colors), skinny jeans, and knee-high boots. “It’s more appropriate for the event,” I told myself. Never mind the fact this is a professional sporting event where 99.9% of the attendees will be wearing jeans and team apparel. “I need to make a good impression,” I insisted, because nothing says confidence more that someone who’s terrified of showing those higher on the food chain who they really are.
Right up until shower time, I was committed to playing the expected role of cisgender woman hanging with the big dogs for the night.
I couldn’t do it.
As I stood under the spray, I was on the verge of tears, thinking about how far I’ve come in my journey over the past few months and I couldn’t turn my back on myself this time. If I’m under-dressed, I’ll deal with it, but at least I’m not playing dress up as someone who doesn’t exist. These people know me. I know them. They didn’t bat an eye when a staff member needed time off for top surgery and they embraced him fully when he asked them to call him by his chosen name and pronouns. They’ve never given me a reason to think they’ll see me in a bad light because this is who I am.
Coming out as nonbinary and admitting I’m not sure where I’ll fit under that umbrella hasn’t been easy or fun. I question myself daily. But I will say this: I wouldn’t trade the steps I’ve taken for anything in the world. Yes, I’m still battling my doubts, but I’m excited to go out tonight and introduce upper management to the dude who’s been trying to claw their way out this entire time. Wish me luck!