IN THE LAST ISSUE OF PRIDE LIFE REBECCA MANNING TOLD OF HER DECISION TO CHANGE GENDER FROM MALE TO FEMALE. WHEN SHE CAME OUT AS TRANS* SHE WAS BOTH DELIGHTED AND DISAPPOINTED BY THE REACTIONS OF SOME OF THE PEOPLE CLOSE TO HER
We all have our coming out journey. I say journey as it isn’t just one event, a party, and then it’s out there. We all know that in a hetero-normative world we come out on a daily basis. I suppose we can always pinpoint the time in our lives where we had the first moments, the people in our lives to whom we put our heart on the line and hoped it wouldn’t get broken.
Of course, coming out as trans* has its own unique set of problems. We have to accustom ourselves to a whole new wardrobe and a new way of acting. Acceptance has to come every day as we display our membership of the rainbow crew; we know that it can lose us jobs, friends, families and safe passage in the street.
Your friends and family are vital in acceptance, love and safety, and you never know how the coming out conversation is going to go.
As my “circle of trust” grew, the reactions had all together been positive; in fact, one or two friends really surprised me. They had been on the edges of my friendship, the people whose status you check now and again, say hello, that sort of thing and that’s about all. When I changed gender, Claire, in particular, became a BFF overnight. She helped me with outfits, make up, gave me her old clothes and helped shape who I am today.
Then there was my friend Sam, who came to all my appointments, who had been there throughout my trans* journey and had supported me in my decisions. However Sam had, as it turned out, “masculine” features and when we arrived at some appointments together, she would be the one they expected to come in to the office! Oops! And the unisex name didn’t help! But she was always there and still is, six years on.
I paint a picture of all being well, yet, just as I was surprised by the positive, it’s the negative that stays with you. My longest best friend had known about my cross-dressing and I naturally thought he would be on-board and an absolute rock. He was there as a witness when I eloped with the woman who would become my wife and more importantly prevented my self-destruction when she took her own life a year later.