Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult."

Hi kids,

No lyric today, although to be honest The Smiths or The Manic Street Preachers could have provided suitable material. Today's title is from Mary Ann Evans, or to use her homme name [wink], George Elliot. Hmmm, a guy pretending to be a woman quoting a female author with a male pen name. Coo, post-modern eh? :-) Don't be fooling into thinking I'm well read - I'm just quick with a search engine.

I don't know what I find interesting about quotes or sound bites (to use a modern term). Perhaps it's the joy of language. Talking of which, a couple of posts ago I had a bit of cod Polari and after leafing through a few sites on the subject, I was surprised to see how much of it had entered mainstream language.

The Truth

Secrets and lies, they're funny things. In some ways a well kept secret can be a good thing. There are bits of information you pick up about people that you really cannot pass on. Real cross-your-heart stuff and no, I don't mean the bra range.

But, I digress. The truth? Or more accurately, the truth about being TG. Would what it be like to be out? Oh You Tee - OUT. Not in an in-your-face Sparkle t-shirt at work or wearing lippy when picking the kids up from school, but more a 'no more secrets' kinda way? Complete openness with your wife/GF and honesty with your friends. Would that be a good thing for the TG community and your own feelings, or is it just the selfish need to fob the guilt on to a third party? What price would you pay for your honesty and what benefits would outweigh the risks?

Of course, being in the closet is a tranny luxury. Our TS sisters, don't get that choice. Even if you can pull off 'deep stealth' there's a time when you're still finding your feet, a time before you perfect who you are.

13 comments:

  1. You've posed another difficult question Lynn. With the exception of factual reportage, most of the definitions for truth in my dictionary involve some decision about intention. I wouldn't consider myself dishonest if I didn't expose every inner most secret (the intention of which is usually solely to maintain my right to privacy) to a stranger upon our first meeting. I would consider myself untruthful if I deliberately hid something I knew might affect a person's ability to decide for themselves how to interact (or not) with me.
    Disclosure in such circumstances seems to be better sooner, rather than later. It at least eliminates the emotional trauma of betrayal.

    In alot of instances where fear is bound up with disclosure, I find I have to spend more energy identifying what my own motivations are in making such disclosures. And I have to consider the cost or consequences as well.

    In my own life, I distroyed a 24 year commited relationship by disclosing my trans nature before I had even defined the rudimentary basics of what that nature actually meant to myself. This not only ended my relationship with my wife, it altered completely my relationship with my then ten year old son. I now reside on the other side of the world from them. My ex and I have not spoken in 5 years and my time with my son has been reduced to a weekly phone call that rarely lasts longer than 30 minutes. That phone call day is the most painful day of each week.

    The relationship I have now started with my trans issues being directly communicated from the beginning.
    If I really had understood the cost before hand would I have made the same decision? I honestly don't know.

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  2. A fascinating reply, Emma.

    Disclosure in such circumstances seems to be better sooner

    It's a tough call isn't it. Do you want to start warts & all, or let the person grow to like you before the baggage is left in the hall? Too much too soon could drive a person away. I'm sorry to hear about your son, though, that must be very, very hard.

    The other day I was daydreaming - hey, the meeting was very dull - about a young couple and their future. The Fates lay out a series of cards in front of them and say this is your future. They'll be hard times, death, anger and sorrow, but there will also be moments of great happiness, joy and satisfaction.

    Seeing it all laid out - would you still take that path? Dreams eh....? :-)

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  3. Interesting one Lynn.

    I can only speak from my own experience, so this is not a recommendation of any kind.

    I've told three sets of "normal" friends, and in two out of three cases I don't think the subject has arisen again. We just carry on as normal (that word again).

    The third set (Helena and Trevor) let me stay over at their house in Glossop whenever I visit Manchester, and see me as Rachel every time. Helena loves the make-up and clothes, as in encouraging me to play with different styles. But she may be out of the ordinary as the had trannie friends in Oz (Melbourne) in her younger days.

    The thing is, I'm so laid back about the whole dressing thing that it never gets mentioned with the other two sets of friends.

    Of course, I am a trannie and not a TS so it ain't really "in their faces", as it were.

    As for what is the best policy, I haven't a clue, play it by ear, what are you comfortable with? I have another friend I wouldn't dream of telling because he's homophobic. May be he'd be cool about it, but what's the point of risking wrecking a perfectly good friendship over something I'm not stressed about in the first place.

    Yes, I'm keeping something from him, it's deception, but the other side of the argument is I have a right to a certain amount of privacy - you pays your money and makes your choice.

    No right answer me thinks. :)

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  4. I don't believe either that there is any such thing as a "right" answer, one that works for every situation, all the time. "Most" of the time I know inside whether or not disclosure will have an possible impact on the developement of a relationship. For myself it comes down to what level of intimacy is involved. I don't have everyone I meet to my home for instance. Of those I do, only a few are invited back in the future, based on how strongly I connect, how much I enjoy their company. It's when I begin to feel a connection that the issue of disclosure seems to begin to be important for me to consider. Where am I hoping the relationship will go? Differentiating between potential friends from aquaintances can be hard sometimes.
    I guess the only area I feel disclosure is very necessary for me is with a potential partner/lover/spouse. A significant level of intimacy for me is prohibited otherwise, and the fear of discovery itself can cause alot of additional stress. Then there's the guilt to deal with as well from having to maintain a deception over an expanding period of time. The longer I wait, the more there is to lose; the more there is to lose, the longer I wait.
    This seems to be getting easier to deal with, simply because people are in general more aware of the nature of being trans. There's more positive exposure, more real knowledge being shared. This should get even easier over time. I had to admit I've seen this happen in my own life, even if it hasn't happened fast enough to suit my personal situation as much as I wished.

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  5. To be honest, I'm not looking to out myself. Really, I'm curious about your experiences on the matter - which some of you have been kind enough to talk about.

    My wife knows (bless her) and one of my 'straight' mates does too. However, he never raises the issue and I don't talk about it with him either. We had a long conversation over many nights about his life. As he confided in me, so I did with him. He took it all in his stride... which was nice :)

    Sometimes, I get tired of the covering up and *ahem* white lies you say to friends and family when you say you were out with your mates on certain nights of the week.

    But then - as some of you have pointed out - telling folk would alter the relationship between us all. That, and perhaps most importantly, don't we want the best for our kids? The world seems f***ed up enough as it is, at least home can be a respite for them.

    Then again, ask me that question again when I can't go out because they're at home 24/7. :-)

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  6. It does depend on the relationship, doesn't it?

    Telling parents, partners, children is obviously fraught with difficulties - as has been mentioned here and everywhere.

    Telling acquaintances, work colleagues, neighbours - well, it's a matter of how confident you are and whether they really need to know. I think the answer has to be, if you're in any doubt about how you will cope with a negative response then don't tell.

    But as for friends, I don't see what the problem is. True, I have been nervous coming out to friends - but I've never been disappointed. And thinking about it, why should I? They're my friends after all.

    Rachel mentions having a homophobic friend. Does she really mean "friend" or does she just mean "someone she knows"? If a person is homophobic I don't see how I could become friends with them. I'm not going to spend time willingly with someone who hates me and what I am. And I don't suffer bigots quietly or patiently...

    One's friends are surely chosen on the basis of shared sympathies and interests and outlooks, aren't they? So mine, few as they are, were hardly likely to react to any revelation with ignorance or disgust or incomprehension.

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  7. The fact that you question your own motivations says alot about the sensitivity to yourself and others, Lynn. I mentioned my son above, and he doesn't know. I don't think he's either old enough or mature enough to process that information. I live in Australi, he in America, so I don't have the dilemma of him seeing me as different. I hope at some point when he's older to be able to explain to him.
    I tend to agree with Stephanie about friends. They are people I've chosen to have in my life. I've told most of mine, because I tend to choose friends who are understanding to start with. I wouldn't want a friend who was racist or bigoted.
    I don't feel the need to "out" myself to the world, though there's at least the possiblity of a little extra risk having a blog. I certainly empathize strongly with wanting that extra bit of peace that would come from not having to "hide first" as the "usual" automatic behavior.
    Its good your wife knows and accepts. That at least lets you feel you are loved for who you are, not what you wear. I know that's important to me with my partner. (she is actually my wife. Australians are so politically correct, they say partner for everything!)
    In the end it comes down to listening to your own heart, and what you need for that heart to feel at peace. You shouldn't have to meet anyone else's expectation, only your own.

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  8. "What would it be like to be out?"
    Once you're out, you can never go back in. No-one will let you, you have to emigrate or something.

    As for the price, well if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Sorry.

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  9. Sorry, a bit slow to get back on this one. Stephanie, the person in question is a friend of about fifteen years. But strange as it may seem I only became aware of his homophobic feelings about six months ago. You see I've never mentioned being TG and I suppose the subject of sexuality hasn't come up before. Anyway, it got me thinking about the term homophobic. Does this actually mean fear of homosexuality. As in someone who fears homosexuals. I think perhaps not, nowadays it seems to mean someone with anti-homosexual feelings, or someone who goes further and displays hostile behaviour towards homosexuals, or maybe discrimination. In my friend's case I couldn't see him being violent or hostile to a homosexual in a face-to-face situation. He seems to be sensitive, thoughtful and caring in many ways. He's always been supportive and there when we've needed a hand in one way or another. Perhaps, I should ask him directly whether knowing someone was gay would affect his attitude regarding friendship. It certainly would be a pertinent question as my wife and I have other friends who are gay. Stephanie, I totally see your point about not wishing to be a friend of someone in the modern sense of the word homophobic. At the end of the day I would hope my friend would decide who his friends were on the basis of qualities other than sexuality. Afterall, there are pleasant and unpleasant individuals in this world regardless of their sexuality. And finally to end on a little hobby rant of mine - it's no damn business of anyone else's what a person's sexuality is. [climbs off soapbox]

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  10. Once you're out, you can never go back in.
    There's truth in this. I ask the question not because the 'grass is greener' but simple to ponder the effect. How would my life be different if I was out? What relationships would change and would it be beneficial to anyone to do so? If enough of us did so, would their be a shift in public perception.

    Those the media - Mr Perry & Mr Izzard - could have kept quiet on that front, but no, for whatever reason(s) they decided to be open about it. There are those among our number who have been interviewed on radio and TV about their "trans-life". Regardless of the type of attention they bring to the TG community, it does raise awareness and I hope familiarity brings the shrug of acceptable.

    I've blogged about this before, but I think it stands a repeat. Around Christmas time I was buying some tights from a shop in town. I had asked about sizing and one of the assistants asked if they were for me. I said yes because a) it was true and b) if I said 'my wife is my height' (which is also true) that would have sounded like a lie. The other sales lady - who I haven't seen since - said that lots of men come in here this time of year (Xmas fancy dress I guess) but the shop does get a few of *those* types. I made some weak throwaway comment, paid and left.

    Terribly British I know. However, on the way back to the car I wondered if I should have spoken up about it? Said: What would you think if I said "yeah, I'm one of those 'nutters' too"? Would you be embarrassed by your previous comments? My money's as good as the next customer. I don't hurt anyone and I don't think your comments are appropriate. You can think what you want about me, but I'm not so sure you'd get quite so much custom if you put a sign in the window saying "We don't like trannys."

    homophobia
    Rachel, perhaps you should ask him - just to hear his reaction. Personally, I'd have to ask him why it freaked him out so much. I suppose in one way, at least he feels comfortable to be able to trust you with a contraversial point of view.

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  11. My husband told me about being tv quite early in our relationship (first few months). If he had waited until later I may have been quite angry with him for not trusting me. I have always been fine with it, although I will admit that there are times I wish he wasn't a transvestite (I am totally cool with everything cd/tv but sometimes seeing my own husband looking like a beautiful woman is kind of hard - it's irrational, but a fact). I am the only person who knows and I think we both want to keep it that way. His family would definitely not understand and mine would be cool with it, but I just don't want them to know. I feel like they'd stop thinking I had some happy, lucky marriage and instead think my husband, who they really like, has a big flaw.

    One of my brothers in fact is tv (I had years of him nicking my clothes) and I know that although my family don't have a problem with it, he has himself to the extent it is never ever mentioned. I know everyone sees it a little bit like a dirty secret (mainly because it did cause problems in the past - stealing from some of us etc and also because he seems to keep it that way himself) and I don't want them to transfer those feelings to my husband. I love my brother very much and I would love him to know about my husband so that he could start to feel better about himself, but for selfish reasons that just isn't possible right now. Last I knew my brother still had a lot of shame about his transvestism. My husband too suffered many years of shame until he came out to me. I'm so happy that my acceptance and love has helped him banish his self loathing. But you can never tell how someone will react, I know. From being on the other end though, I can't help but feel honesty is always best in the long run, but I also realise some people have an awful lot to lose. It's a very tough situation.

    Apologies for rambliness - am sleep deprived but wanted to reply whilst I was still thinking about it. Also, apologies for the anonymity, but I hope you understand xx

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  12. "homophobia
    Rachel, perhaps you should ask him - just to hear his reaction."

    Maybe I will, he's moving to Wales shortly if their house ever gets sold. Have to be quick then... if I'm going to, that is.

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  13. Dear Anon,

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to comment.

    I think many trannys do not come out to their partners for fear of killing the relationship. It is, as you say, impossible to tell how someone will react and therefore many us try to keep it under wraps as much as possible. A heady cocktail of guilt, shame and self-denial. No wonder there are tales of 'normal' husbands cracking and bursting out of the closet.

    For the record, I don't think that your reaction to seeing your husband dressed is irrational. If a chap's wife started shaving her head, wearing a false 'tache and wanted to called Jim - that'd freak a guy out too. It cuts both ways. It isn't easy being a tranny, but then being a partner to one must be as hard - if not harder - sometimes. H and I joke about it - "there are worse things . . . " - but sometimes, it would be easier if I was just your average guy. But then if I was, I very much doubt that my personality would be the same as it is now.

    As an aside, a friend from the social group posted a joke about 'So you thing your hubby's a TV?" on a forum. The nice thing about it is that it's from a good news / bad news point of view, so I guess you try and look at things in a positive light. That, however, is not always easy.

    For many trannys, but not all by any means, it starts off sexual and changes as they get older. I think a large amount of shame comes from that early era and it remains, as you say, 'a dirty little secret'. I think that brings us full circle back to the out business. If more 'typical' folk are found to be trannys, will there be less shame for the next generation?

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