To say today’s been a bit of a rough day is a huge understatement. I have an amazingly wonderful, carefully cultivated circle on social media, and today they’re all posting in honor of TDOV. All of the “we see you” posts have had a very unintended effect, and not one I like.
I wanted to scream. Cry. Run away from the online world for the entire day. Why? Because how can yousee me if I can’t see myself?
It’s been three years since I started my “safe haven” profile online. Doesn’t seem possible it’s been that long, but the book of face recently reminded me that I’d “celebrated” my three year anniversary on the time sucking platform. It’s been over a year since I came out as non-binary “or something” on that same profile and started inviting people into the reality of me.
And yet… I feel as if the only place I exist is online. You all see me but I have yet to have the courage to fully step out in real life. Yes, I’ve taken steps, but they don’t feel like enough. I’m thrilled when people only know me from the book world because they call me one of my two preferred names. When I walk out my front door? Deadname city. And I feel like a fraud because I don’t want to upset the apple cart by asking people to call me something different. I don’t want them dealing with stumbling over what to call me and feeling like they’ve screwed up. I don’t want those awkward moments when they stumble and then feel they need to apologize.
But that’s only part of it. The other part, the much bigger part, is I’m still not in a place where I can answer the inevitable questions. That’s not out of fear, but because I don’t fucking know the answers for myself. If I don’t know, how am I supposed to explain the complexity that is me to anyone else?
When I first came out as non-binary, I felt good. I had something other than “I am woman, hear me roar” and all that happy shit (totally not knocking women, but that’s so not me). There was a label I could slap on my ass that fit better than the box they’d checked on my birth certificate after looking at my anatomy. But now it’s itchy. Not as comfortable as I thought it would be. It’s a lot like when I said I was bi because I’d fallen in love with both men and women at some point in my life, even though I now know there were other labels that fit better, and that using a better label didn’t have to mean the implosion of life as I’d known it.
So today, while everyone else is posting about seeing and supporting their transgender community members, I’m trying to peel back my own blinders. I know it’s not something I’m going to be able to do without professional help, and I’m not sure I want to. If left to my own devices, I might very well spend the next few decades wearing this label, the entire time wishing I hadn’t slapped it on. With help, I may realize I can be both non-binary and still need to transition (and holy fuck did even typing that scare me because what will other people think if I do that???). With the help of a good therapist and amazing friends, my hope is that, by next year, I’ll be able to see me and celebrate me with my friends.
This morning, I was on the verge of irrationally lashing out. This evening, thanks to friends, I’m able to see the silver lining: there are people out there who will keep on seeing me, even when I’m not ready to see myself. And they’ll be there when the day comes that I am able to look in both the literal and figurative mirror.