listen, do you want to know a secret? do you promise not to tell?

 

Well well well.  Here I am on the other side of Thanksgiving and the whirlwind celebrations in St. Louis.  IMG_2429 5I think it all went fairly well.  In no small part thanks to Valerie 🙂   I even think there was a trans kid at the bar mitzvah.  I don’t know for sure.  He had bright blue hair, was dressed in an awkwardly-fitting suit and couldn’t stop staring at me.  To be fair, I did my sharIMG_2435 4e of staring back.  At one point, the only point the DJ actually did a “girls on this side and boys on that side” game, I walked up to him and said, “You’ve got this. You’re rocking it.”  To which he nearly burst with glee and said, “You really think so???” with so much fear and hope in his voice it was heartbreaking.  He joined the boys and no one seemed to care either way.  I spent my evening dancing with my gorgeous wife, navigating our children’s participation (and attempting to teach Nina the cupid shuffle) and pondering that blue-haired boy and whether I’d done right by him, if there was something more I could have done or said (and being afraid that he was actually not trans, and wondering if he thought I was just some creepy adult). IMG_2430 5IMG_2433 3I did notice how much more *me* I felt.  I was far less self conscious than I have ever been.  As I’ve gotten more and more at peace with the understanding/knowledge that I am transgender, I’ve begun to wonder what, if anything, I am planning to tell people about me.  I’ve noticed recently that I have strong feelings about who I tell and what/how I tell them.  I’ve been *noticing* a lot lately my inner reactions to different people and whether or not I want to tell them I am transgender.  The reality is that there are precious few people I actually engage with in conversation about me being trans.  There are some people with whom I would feel unsafe sharing the fact that I am transgender.  And there are certain people that elicit a strong negative reaction from me, where I literally cringe at the thought of talking to them about anything more personal than my shoe size, never mind my trans identity.  In some instances I feel self-protective.  And other arenas I am simply not interested in being a window of opportunity for learning.  It seems actually that 9 times out of 10 I do not wish at all to share this deep and fragile secret.  And yet, I keep a blog.  Which didn’t make sense to me at first as I was contemplating all of this.  But then I realized that by writing here I am not necessarily attempting to engage anyone but myself.

Still, there are people who I think do deserve to know.  People I consider friends, the family of my heart.  How can I keep such an integral piece of myself from them?  How would I feel if they kept something like this from me?  I don’t want to tell them because I want anything different from them.  I want them to know because they are important to me, and it is important to me that they really know me.  There is another reason I need to tell my truth, to share my real self.  Because it is anathema to everything I have been taught.  This is about as difficult a thing as I can do.  It should be noted, and understood as monumental, a very high honor.  Why?  Because my mother repeatedly told me (though she hardly knew me herself) that if people really knew me they wouldn’t like me.  So even though it goes against everything that was ingrained in me, there are still people I believe in enough to share my deepest self with them.  I need to do this as much for me (maybe even more for me) as for them, this sharing of my real self.

One hard part is that once I *share* I’m not necessarily interested in pursuing a conversation about it.  It reminds me very much of feelings I had as the parent of a young child with a disability.  I wanted so much for disabilities to simply be part and parcel of the fabric of life (both for my child and for those around her).  I wanted books to have a character with a disability in the story, a story about regular old life.  Not a book about a character and their disability.  I don’t want to *talk trans*  all the time.  I do plenty of that here and in my head.  Not that I’m not willing to answer questions.  I am.  I just don’t want trans to become the only topic of conversation.  And I don’t feel confident enough still to be in a position of having to defend myself.

What little family I have left does not know.  For this very reason.  I can envision with  crystal clarity how the conversation would go.  “But Hali you are NOT a boy.” is how it would start.  But what do I say to them (and to the others with whom I do not wish to engage in conversation about being transgender) as I inhabit more and more of *me* in the world?  Is it utterly insane of me to think that if I were to begin taking testosterone I would still not have to say anything to these folks?  {I imagine walking around with a ZZ Top beard down to my bellybutton and not saying anything to them as we awkwardly get together for our once or twice a year family gathering.}  What if someone were to ask me directly?  Would I have to answer?  This sort of happened to me at work recently where someone asked me if I am transitioning (not in so many words).  Tears of shame ran down my face.  But I managed to say something to the effect of, “I do not wish to discuss such things with you.”  Is that enough of an answer?  Do I owe people more?  And why oh why the tears of shame???

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About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
This entry was posted in my own worst enemy, no man's land. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to listen, do you want to know a secret? do you promise not to tell?

  1. Kris says:

    In my parallel universe, I am struggling with how much to reveal too, Hali, besides the silencing ban that has been imposed on me. Do you know the poem by T S Eliot, The naming of cats? It ends: “THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
    When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Effanineffable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

  2. Fjs says:

    Knowing you – I would say tears of frustration not shame. Who cares about pronouns anyway the most important word to describe yourself is friend.

  3. likelinley says:

    I can’t speak much to this particular brand of pain, but you look happy (and well dressed : ) in these pictures — signposts — on your life’s journey.

    • halitentwo says:

      It’s always interesting to me because I have what has been called a “glass face” where everything shows. And yet, I often appear to those who don’t know me as quite happy. I do think I was happy that evening. I enjoyed myself in a way that is not natural to me. I love the “signposts” image 🙂

      • likelinley says:

        Interesting – maybe you have the opposite of a “resting bitchy face.” I enjoy your writing and always end up looking up a word or two. Lots of fun for an old English major!

  4. Jamie Ray says:

    The pants/shirt/shoes combination works great! Now all you have to do is clone it.
    I’ve told just about everyone I know that I identify as transgender, but that I am not planning on full-on binary transition. This has everyone (myself and Donna included) totally confused. I get asked dopey questions frequently (my favorite being the guy at work who asked if I was planning on using the men’s room – I told him he’d be the first to know if/when I planned to do that). I don’t exactly regret being out, because I can be myself and Donna can talk to her friends about it, but it didn’t make things any clearer.

    • halitentwo says:

      I still need something a little dressier (for more formal occasions), but I think I’m ok. I agree that the non-binary stuff is confusing. I wish I had a pithy answer to the binary-forcing questions. I guess we’ll keep working on it.

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