I met someone this week I hadn’t seen in a few years.
The conversation began like this.
Me: How are you?
They: Out and proud. You really should be.
Me: (this bit’s a lie) I asked how you are. Not if you’re queer. Or if you’re open about it. I know you are. You were when I saw you last, a few years ago and I wasn’t thinking you were probably not queer now or had developed some new shame about it. I wasn’t for a moment imagining that a person with queer badges stuck to their lapels was in some way hiding their queerness from the world, afraid of being found out. As for me, I’m also very out and proud but most of the time it’s not my go to response when someone asks me how I am. Just because I’m not wearing rainbows, don’t tell me I should be out or assume I’m hiding in some dark closet. Don’t tell anyone they should be out. Frankly dear, that’s not your decision to make. I’m openly trans every time I step outside my door. Every time I type a line in public forum. I’m out and proud wherever I go. I’m out and proud, transgender and a long way from heterosexual, in women’s choirs and they know how much finding full acceptance there has helped me develop in my own confidence. Because I told them so. And for a trans woman, being on retreat with your women’s choir and singing along with Wuthering Heights badly while everyone else sings along with it just as badly is a moment of joyous perfection. Heck, I came out on stage this week. In a single relevant sentence, for anyone to hear who hadn’t noticed the woman before them might possibly not be cisgender, before moving on. I’d waited for that sentence. For laughter to subside. The previous two sentences were funny. That one really wasn’t. It wasn’t really coming out though. It wasn’t saying “I’m transgender so whatcha gonna to about it?” It was just relevant to what I’d been talking about in the same way that every other sentence had been relevant. It was matter of fact. My friends all know I’m trans. At least I thought they did. It turns out I can be wrong about that – some of them don’t have a clue unless it comes up in conversation. And nearly five years into my life as Clare I am still surprised whenever I learn I’m being treated as a woman not because someone isn’t being transphobic but because they haven’t twigged to my trans status or to the fact that I might still be legally male. I am. Somehow I’ve never got round to shelling out the money to enter into the process of having my gender legally recognised. One day I might not have to, much to the horror of the likes of Piers Morgan, a man who looks a little like he’s just developed rabies or something worse whenever the subject arises. My friends support me too if I need it. Because they are friends. But we mostly talk poetry and music instead, or all manner of exciting topics, before deciding what to eat for lunch. So don’t you fucking tell me I should be out and proud too, okay?
Me: (this bit isn’t a lie). Glad to hear it.
The conversation ended like that. I walked on, deciding not to go ballistic at them. Sometimes I can make a wise decision. I hope if I see them again in another few years they will have a different answer to my question of welfare. They’ll still be out and proud but I hope they will tell me how they are. Or perhaps just assume I’d asked out of politeness and give one of the acceptable meaningless answers of etiquette.
As for me, I’ll still be out and proud too. But I’ll probably be even more bored with my outness. It’s just a thing, you know. There are places queer conversation and education and campaigning need to happen. Of course. While there is still inequality and prejudice that’ll still be the case. Even afterwards, because a trans person will still need to know their options regarding transition. And sexuality will always be talked about, no matter what variety it comes in. Being queer, whether in denial or accepting myself, whether living as he or transitioning, has affected my own life deeply and I’ve talked about it in several important contexts in the last week but as things go it’s actually quite boring. Objectively it’s no more interesting than being not queer and definitely not my usual conversation starter.
How am I? Knackered actually. I’m not used to being anywhere near as active as I’ve been recently and I should be asleep write now. I’m so tired I didn’t notice the obvious mistake in that sentence as I typed the word. But, right at this moment, I am largely happy and content. Two nights ago I cried myself to sleep in gratitude for my life as it is. Last night I cried happiness again. Now is good. The start of the month was decidedly difficult in relation to mental health but that doesn’t mean now isn’t good. The last couple of weeks have been filled with some staggeringly good times. I’ve been determined to find them, to make them, and I have so much more planned that will bring both joy and challenge.
How am I? Well I’m out and proud but can you recommend a good walk within easy reach of public transport? Or a Netflix series I might enjoy?
So that’s me! How are you?