Thursday, October 11, 2012

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Today is National Coming Out Day, an important holiday that encourages everyone to come out of the closet to their friends and loved ones.  I make a point to come out to at least one person every year on this day, which begins to get more difficult when you're as out as I am, but it's still an important reminder for me that coming out is a life-long process.  Do all of my family and close friends know that I'm trans, bi, and atheist?  You bet your ass.  But as my life has changed, the meaning of coming out has changed as well.  When I first came out it was completely necessary in order to live my life (it's pretty hard for your loved ones not to notice you're growing boobs and wearing skirts, so it's kind to give them a head's up first.)  But now that I'm pretty much done transitioning and blend in with everyone else, coming out is a statement for my rights and others'.  It's about celebrating my trans history rather than hiding it as something shameful.  It's about changing people's ideas of what a transsexual is and what a transsexual looks like. 

Now that my life as a woman is secured, I use coming out as a weapon.  I use it to blow up stereotypes and nip prejudice in the bud.  I use it to shatter the myths and stereotypes portrayed by media and politicians.  I use it to say, "I am a human being, just like you."  That's the real power behind coming out of the closet.  When people realize that "transsexuals" or "gays" or "atheists" aren't this big scary boogieman out to destroy their lives, but instead are people they know and care for, it puts a face to the movement and makes it that much harder to discriminate.  That's why it's so important.  It's easy to fear "them".  But it's not easy to fear your neighbor or the woman you buy coffee from every morning or your classmate or your coworker or the person you always chat with on the train.  Those are real people, not some faceless "agenda".  They're people who just want to live happy, beautiful lives with the people they love.  There's nothing scary about that, it's universal. 

So today, I'd like you to join me in coming out of the closet.  If you're so deep in the closet you're finding Christmas presents, consider making this the day you share who you are with your loved ones (assuming it's safe to do so.)  If you're already out to your family, consider coming out to some of your elected officials and letting them know that, like it or not, they are representing queer and/or godless constituents and would be wise not to demonize you.  Or come out to someone you don't know very well.  Maybe someone who has made a prejudiced joke in your presence before, but you just let it slide because you didn't want to cause a fuss.  If we don't continue to come out of our closets it's going to be easy for someone to lock the door on us and trap us there.  Never be ashamed of who you are and always stand up for yourself.  Because whenever you stand up for yourself, you stand up for everyone.

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