A month ago I had lunch with my friend Rachael. Rachael and I have been corresponding on Facebook for awhile, but it was only the first time that I met her in person. We chatted about the joys and struggles of being transgender. And we shared stories of us coming out to people. One thing that struck me is that although every transgender woman has her own very unique journey and perspective, other people’s reaction to us coming out often fall neatly into a few categories. The list roughly looks like this:
- People who outright reject us. They either unwilling or unable to accept us for who we are. They stop talking to us, they don’t want to have anything to do with us. It hurts to find out thought you and not wanted in their lives any more, and the hurt is deeper if they had been close friends or family before. But at least we’re up front about what they think.
- But of course there are those who embrace us for who we are. It’s always nice to get an ally, whoever they are. Most of the people whom I think would react positively are, well, pretty obvious, but every now and then someone else that I think would fall into the former category turns out to be my closest allies. It’s often when I get those “Ah ha” moments when everything about me–my personality, my aspirations, etc—finally making sense to them.
- But the saddest is when people who just drift away, and never explain to me why. When I come out to them, they seem, at first, supportive. But almost immediately, I stopped getting phone calls or emails, stopped getting invited to gatherings. if I question them, they’d make an excuse just plausible enough to stop me from asking. I suppose they’re really in the first category, but couldn’t admit that to me or to themselves. I can forgive them, but it still leaves me without a friend when I’m at my most vulnerable time.
My challenge isn’t to figure out who’s in which category, but rather, the fact that people from one group interact with people from another because they too are friends. Unfortunately ,my friends now have to tread carefully between people who have abandoned me and those who have embraced me; it’s a position that I would never have wanted to put them in. I’ve resolved to stay positive, let the chips fall in place, and see what friends I still have when it’s all said and done. It’s fair to say that a lot of my friends do not value our friendship as much as I do and I’ve already been distanced by many people. But I hope that the bonds that were strengthened with other friends are more enduring, now that we’ve taken care of the elephant in the room.