Ms. Jones Comes Out

I was recently humbled and honoured when a friend came out to myself and Mr. Molly as trans. I asked our friend, who is male-to-female trans, if they would not mind sharing their transformation with my readers here. Luckily for all of you, she was comfortable sharing her journey. As a starter, I’ve asked “Ms. Jones” to answer the basic questions provided in the PFLAG questionnaire as an informative exercise for myself. A note on comments: since Ms. Jones is just dealing with the first baby steps of coming out, absolutely no negative commentary will be tolerated. If transgender issues are not your cup of tea, please take your comments elsewhere. If you have constructive, thoughtful ideas, please do post them below.

Molly:

When did you start thinking about your gender identity?

Ms. Jones:

The conscious questioning began roughly four and a half years ago. I’ll readily admit this shocked me writing it down, I wanted to estimate just two or maybe three years but then I went back to check some dates and discovered it’s really been that long. Honestly, the longer I’ve questioned the further back I can take the subconscious questioning — the disparate feelings and thoughts that never quite tied together in my head, the feelings of not quite fitting in or being “right” somehow. I can trace some of these right back to my earliest memories, but until my recent past none of it made any sense beyond out of place thoughts or feelings that I just shelved away.

Molly:

What caused you to start thinking about your gender identity?

Ms. Jones:

It’s a two-fold and, in my opinion, strongly ironic answer. The first and main part was freedom to finally be myself. I’d found myself living to the expectations of others for so long that the opportunity to really be introspective and discover who I am never really came to me — in fact it was probably a question I didn’t even consider I needed to answer. I went from fulfilling parental expectations, to meeting the expectations of my romantic partner and trying to live up to the image of an older sibling I looked up to. I progressed through higher education and then fell almost directly to fulfilling my side of a relationship, engagement, then marriage without ever stopping to question if I was really being true to myself. Looking back the hardest part of all of this is that none of the emotions or feelings were faked, but at the same time there was always something hollow within me, a sense of not quite being complete, and a lingering fear of not fulfilling the role society expected of me quite competently enough.

The second part, that fulfils the irony mentioned earlier is that it was from in a subsequent relationship that I was prompted to explore this side of myself. So after espousing the freedom to find myself without the shackles of some parental, societal or relationship based construct — that’s actually what led me here. Go figure. If anything, she was too supportive and our relationship sadly fizzled, due at least in part to my own fears and insecurities — I think she understood me more than I understood myself back then and was years ahead of me in her thinking. When you’ve barely broached the subject of transgenderism and your partner is telling you you are it can be a little scary. I guess it’s just a shame we didn’t meet years later!

Molly:

Where did you learn about the transgender community?

Ms. Jones:

I didn’t know there was one until very recently. I think my first “contact” with even knowing transgendered people could exist didn’t happen until I was in higher education and that turned into a fascination that I kept secret, basically until now! I never really linked the fascination to the fact that it felt right for me, it was just something that continued to dwell in the periphery of my consciousness, never quite rearing its head but never fully going away.

Molly: Do you know any transgender people?

Ms. Jones:

Right now just a handful. I’ve had wonderful experiences with the very welcoming local PFLAG community that have enabled me to connect with a few transgender people, and learn of a few more who I should talk to. My therapist has also helped lining up people for me to talk to in this regard. At this point it’s still all baby steps for me. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I really came to terms with myself, accepted and overcame the fears I had and acknowledged that this is my life and this is where it’s going.

Molly:

Do you have support from the transgender community?

Ms. Jones:

I have made an amazing friend who has been incredibly supportive so far, there to point me in the right direction to learn more and also to be someone to listen when I’ve had to vent. I have explored the periphery of a few online communities, but I’m pretty shy in myself at the best of times so putting myself forward is tough. I’m definitely making progress and getting there one step at a time though!

Molly:

Do you have friends you can talk to about gender identity issues?

Ms. Jones:

I do now!

Molly:

What name/pronouns would you like me to use when addressing you?

Ms. Jones:

I’ll answer the name part offline since that would like, totally, ruin the veil of anonymity we’ve created here. Definitely feminine pronouns though, however I’m in a very awkward position now being forced to present as male for the forseeable future so I’m totally cool with whatever happens. It cuts a little being male, but the majority of my social interactions and all of my business based interactions will be happening that way for some time to come.

Molly:

Are there resources you have been accessing to educate yourself about this? Can you recommend any for me?

Ms. Jones:

The few transgender people I know have been amazing resources and have pointed me to many sites online. Three that I have found especially useful on a personal level are transgendercare.com, Lynn Conway’s Homepage and Transsexual Roadmap. The last is probably more applicable to me but I’ve always considered any information to be useful as you gain insights into how others view the world too! Beyond that obviously PFLAG. I’m still incredibly early in my transitional journey so at this point I’m sure I have a thousand more things to discover myself, let alone share with others.

Molly:

Are you safe from harassment?

Ms. Jones:

Bearing in mind my location I would answer most likely not. However, with that being said, at least for the short to medium term I would imagine not. I’m still forced to mostly present publically as male due to work and current social constraints. There is nobody in my immediate vicinity, save for those from PFLAG, who know my true identity. Thankfully we’ve already managed to navigate the possibly muddy waters of meeting randomly in public and how to talk to each other there!

Molly:

What can I do to better support you at this time?

Ms. Jones:

You’ve been amazing and more than I would have dared ask for so far. This is both a wonderful and incredibly scary journey for me. In myself I truly feel free of depression that has haunted me for goodness knows how long, I can see and feel the spark of hope in life that I’d almost forgotten existed. At this stage understanding, questions, and communication are what I really hope for. I’ve been good at reaching out to tell people so far, but I’m not good at keeping the conversation going, I’m never quite sure if the responses have been positive and nice to placate me so people can just gradually dissociate. So regular reaching out, small talk, conversation, and understanding mean the world to me 🙂

Molly:

Is there anything I can do to help?

Ms. Jones:

You already are, both with my previous answer, and with the fact you’ve shown enough interest to go through this process with me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s