Whenever I write a big, scary blog post, I never really know how to follow it up. Should I just go back to ‘business as usual’ posts about how I’m getting on with my dissertation (not as quickly as I’d like), or do I need to take this time to be serious and deep since that’s what people are probably expecting?
I also considered making a post made up of all the bits and pieces of things I’ve wanted to talk about on my blog and haven’t been able to for fear of outing myself — like how I hate that menstrual supplies are called by silly euphemisms like “feminine hygiene”. You know what I really don’t want when I’m already bleeding out of an orifice? To be made uncomfortable with misgendering and assumptions. For everything to be pink and swirly and make me feel like, as well as the aforementioned bleeding, there’s something wrong with me.
But I don’t know. I didn’t really think I could make a whole post of those kinds of rants, and I thought it might not be … comfortable for everyone. Nobody’s been unsupportive so far; that is to say, I haven’t had any mean or abusive comments, and a few people I might not have expected to get it have sent me messages saying they like me for who I am or whatever. However, I’ve noticed a sort of conspicuous silence too. Maybe it’s just changing blog culture that means people don’t comment so much, but compared to my original coming out post, the number of people I heard from — especially internet-only friends, even those I’ve known for years — was small.
Like I said, it might mean nothing. Maybe people just don’t comment on blog posts anymore. Maybe all of those internet friends are busy and that’s why I haven’t heard from them in weeks, even before this. Part of me thinks there are maybe some people who aren’t comfortable with me being non-binary, though, and while I’m unapologetic about it, I don’t really want to shove a whole load of stuff in their faces all at once, just because I can.
I’ll shove it in their faces gradually, instead. Much better.
I have been surprised by the positivity, so far. I’ve seen so many people attract Twitter trolls and abuse, so I assumed that would happen to me. So far, though, it hasn’t, even though I tweeted about it quite a few times and using popular hashtags. (It was Trans Day of Visibility the day after I came out, and I made a few jokes about my poor planning using the #tdov tag, which I might have thought would be where haters were hanging out.) Of course, I came out in a relatively safe environment, because this is my blog and I can moderate the comments and generally speaking people know there are going to be queer issues discussed here, so if they’re not okay with that, they don’t read it. Elsewhere, I might not have been so lucky.
My siblings, too, have been supportive. Within minutes of me sending an email to my whole family with a link to my post (by far the scariest part of the process), they emailed back saying they got it, and what would I like them to call me? My brother even said this:
Which is pretty astute of him given that he lives on the other side of the world and also doesn’t see the stuff I post on Facebook since he deleted his account, but I’m intrigued to know what made him think this and how long he’s been thinking it. What gave it away? Was it just my insistence on wearing trousers in this year’s family Christmas photo when I’ve always worn dresses in the past, or was it more than that? I’ll have to ask him some time.
I don’t make a habit of talking about my family on my blog because, you know, privacy and all that, but I know people (especially people who know me) will wonder how my parents reacted. They were the people I was most worried about coming out to, even though I’d technically told Mum already, a couple of years ago, and yet I did it. And well… they haven’t acknowledged it at all.
Neither of them replied to my email and in the days that have passed, nobody’s mentioned it. I wondered if they’d actually got it, but I know they’ve checked their emails and it didn’t bounce back to me, so they must have done. I’ve been too afraid to ask them what they thought.
Honestly, this is fairly much how my dad behaved when I came out as gay by means of a letter however many years ago. My mum talked to me about it, but Dad said nothing at all. I spent the next couple of years being as obnoxiously and obviously queer as I felt able to, even when it occasionally felt like a risk, and it paid off, because they’ve become a lot more accepting and supportive. (Though I think me being ace helped; I don’t know how they’d actually respond if I had a girlfriend or whatever.) Since I came out to my mum as non-binary ages ago, maybe she feels we don’t need to have a conversation, or maybe she just doesn’t know what to say.
I don’t know what to say either. I was a lot more prepared to come out as gay because despite growing up in a very heteronormative Christian environment, I’d spent several years as an overly-invested ‘straight’ ally before I realised that wasn’t what I was, and so I hadn’t internalised so many fears. I also wasn’t really closeted — I came out to my family after barely a couple of weeks. With being nonbinary, I’ve been hiding it for three years. It’s a lot harder to unlearn that and to feel comfortable being obvious and making jokes about it.
So. That’s a work in progress, I think. I imagined this was probably what would happen — that it would be kind of awkward and a bit of an elephant in the room. I wouldn’t have come out to them if I’d thought it would be worse.
Anyway, on the whole it’s been a relief, because now I can talk about stuff here that previously felt far too personal. I probably could’ve pulled off the whole ‘cis ally’ act, but I would’ve felt like I was confessing something, and I wouldn’t have been able to say everything I wanted to say. I might give it a little while before I start delving too deep into that, though — give people who aren’t so sure a bit of time to adjust. I’m not going to not talk about it, though, so if anyone’s really not okay with that… well, you might as well leave at this point.
Before I go back to staring futilely at my dissertation, I’ll share again the video I linked to in my last post, of a poetry performance I did in late 2014 with Cambridge PEN. It was terrifying, and I had to take a LOT of anxiety meds just to stop shaking like a jelly, but I also think it illustrates that this whole gender thing is an issue that’s been on my mind for a long time already. Also I look great in dungarees (I apologise for the poor lighting).