The first time it happened to me was several years ago when I started to come out. I was building up to tell one of my friends, and did the whole, “I’ve got something to tell you…” bit. They just looked at me and said, “you are trans aren’t you?” Filled with surprise, I caved at that point and just agreed. It was ahead of when I wanted to say it, but I did want to say it, so I did. I was ready.
Last night a similar opportunity arose and god, did I crash and burn. I was invited - and went - to the birthday party of a full time transwoman friend called J. She is completely lovely and kind and it was so nice of her to include me in her celebration. I drove over in male mode, for a range of reasons, and when I arrived, the party was in full swing. A number of her friends were there, none of whom I’d met before and none, I assume, knew about my trans status. Clearly some people there were from the LGBT community, together with others who either weren’t LGBT, or were very stealthy.
My pain commenced almost immediately. I started talking to a nice chap who was very much larger than life and almost his opening line was, “how do you know J?” Gulp. I know, in hindsight, that I should have considered how I wanted to respond to that question, but honestly, I hadn’t. I went red and a million thoughts went through my head, each one of them screaming, “don’t say it,” “what will they think,” “you never tell people about this in an unplanned way,” “he’s a complete stranger, what are you thinking”, “give the safe answer”.
So instead of thinking clearly, opening up, telling the truth and just being very cool and relaxed about it. I crashed and burned. I said, “Oh, we haven’t known each other long, we met on line. She’s just fab isn’t she,” and indicated that I was ready to move on. As the cock crowed for the first time, fortunately the guy loved the sound of his own voice and he moved on. And an inward part of me hated myself for denying who I am.
Later on I was talking to another chap who was also lovely - we’d been having a really interesting conversation on a very blokey topic (house building) and we were regaling each other with mutual experiences. I’d (not deliberately, I think) been talking about my kids and wife and sounding like a very normal, sane, family man respectable type. As you do with strangers at parties. As you might expect, in a lull in the conversation, my heart sank as he asked the same question, “how do know J?” I tried the same line again. He looked confused, but was about to accept the answer, I could hear the cock crowing again in the background, when things turned for the worse. J joined the conversation and he asked her the question instead. She looked at me in a “how do you want to answer this” kind of way. So I quickly repeated my previous line, brightly and with enthusiasm, “I was just telling him, we haven’t known each other long have we J? We met on line. You are just fab aren’t you? So many varied interests, we just hit it off.”
Sensing a healthy dose of BS, he got more specific: “where abouts on-line?" he asked, "what? A mutual interest site?” I knew the game was up. I looked pleadingly at J, not knowing how to handle this at all. She said, “Its an LGBT support forum. Isn’t it great at the party tonight, we definitely have some L’s, a few G’s, at least one B and some Ts.” He nodded, we moved on and the cock crowed for the third time.
My sage and wise adviser and gay friend has been a fantastic help today and has just messaged to instruct me not to beat myself up over it, because honestly, I am. He rightly says that it comes from the 'fight or flight' instinct and that even he has denied being gay at times. I just need to get better at knowing how to answer that question. It's going to happen a lot more. If I’d been in my armour of my dress, make up and wig, I think it would have been easier. Partly because they wouldn’t have needed to ask, but also because I am ready to answer in that mode. The thing that's sad is that I am not ashamed of being trans, but I made myself feel like I am, whereas I was actually just frightened. But the horrible thing was that I felt like I put J in an uncomfortable position and it was almost like I was denying her at the same time and I don’t like that about myself.
Its amazing how much time you spend with yourself and yet, you still learn more that you didn’t know.