It has been almost two and a half years since I came out as transgender. After I told my parents in October 2015 and was met with an acceptance I hadn’t expected, I changed my name on all my social media profiles and began my new life as Benjamin.
I have to admit it was terrifying to tell people about this. Since I was a class officer and a member of the tech crew that ran nearly every event in the school, I knew this was news that wouldn’t fly under the radar. Not to mention, I was just finishing my last season on the girl’s volleyball team at the time I started going public about it. Fortunately, I received so many more questions from classmates willing to listen than backlash from those trying to oppress my identity. This really set a precedent that gave me the confidence to live my life without fearing how others would react.
Now I’m in my fourth semester of undergraduate studies. While my name still hasn’t been legally changed, I’m openly Benjamin at work, school, clubs, and anywhere else I’m legally allowed to be. Multiple friends, family, and peers have commented that this name fits me better than my old one ever did, and I have to agree. I’m not scared to say that I’m a boy because that’s the truth. I don’t care to fight with anyone who wants to argue otherwise. None of them know who I am better than I do, and no one ever will.
Perhaps it’s fair to say I’m numb to the action of coming out. Not because of bad experiences, but as a pre-transition trans guy, I have to tell everyone I meet that I’m transgender if I want my pronouns respected. So essentially, coming out nowadays is more for you than it is for me. I have my support system already, so when I tell you I’m transgender, I don’t really care about your little speech expressing how much you support my brave choice to be open in today’s political climate. Nor do I need you to give me a ten-minute apology for misgendering me in the past. Honestly, it happens so often (usually by accident) that I barely notice it anymore. However, if you expect to be a part of my life for more than a day, I expect you to learn the correct way of referring to me.
To reiterate the above: Even though I’m the one coming out, it’s not about me. I come out to you so that our coworkers don’t come to me laughing about how you used the wrong pronouns when talking about me. I come out to you so that our classmates don’t gossip about how disrespectful you are to me when you just didn’t realize. I come out to you so that you’re on the same page as everyone else and don’t confuse others on who you’re talking about.
I’ve made my peace with my identity and branded myself as the person I want to be. So now when I tell you I’m transgender, you should know not to make a big deal out of it, because this is for you, not me. My coming out is the time for you to recognize your mistake(s) and work to correct them in the future. And now it’s your choice to respect me or not, but either way, it says more about your character than it ever will about mine.