I was really afraid to come out to other people. Think that, once you’ve come out to someone, there’s no coming back. You can’t “unsay” something you have said.
Until there came a day when I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore.
I had this late acne that had started to spread a bit in some patches of my face. I had always had it, but it got worse. So I went to the dermatologist, and he put me on Accutane.
For the people who don’t know what Accutane is, I’ll say that it is a really strong treatment that dries up your skin. It also has some nasty, if rare, side effects, such as extreme photosensitivity (so you shouldn’t expose yourself to direct sunlight), or hair loss. It was the hair loss part, together with the fact that you shouldn’t get laser depilation not only when you’re on these pills, but up to six months later, that got me extremely nervous. One day I couldn’t stand it anymore, and told a friend.
Somehow, the dam that contained all my feelings broke. I was so tired of people telling me that hair loss was no big deal, that lots of men get bald and they look even better then… It is horrible when everybody has such a clear picture of what you should be worrying about, and what you shouldn’t.
So, I came out to a friend. Of course, my girlfriend already knew about all of this, and even encouraged me to go and see a psychologist. But I guess this was how things started to happen.
After this friend, I told another. And then another one. And I started going to the psychologist, who told me that I should start doing life tests. This means, I should start dressing up as a girl. I already had some girl clothes, (thank you, Internet!), so it was okay with me. I enjoyed trying new looks, even though I didn’t look too convincing. I had still my beard, and my skin was horrible.
I told my parents, who live in another city. They were really, really worried. They were supportive, though. But we talked over the phone for hours, telling me that I was making a terrible mistake, that I was going to be alone, that I was going to look strange and ugly. I know this was because they cared (a lot!), but I guess this didn’t help me much at the time. My parents are also very fond of my girlfriend, and feared that I was going to hurt her.
Those days were really hard. The relationship with my girlfriend was about to blow apart. And I felt very restricted, very encased in my male role, so I felt really hard to progress. I couldn’t remove my beard, I couldn’t go outdoors as a girl, (it was too obvious), and I was really scared of somehow being denied treatment. Especially now that I had my mind pretty much clear.
And some of these friends said that maybe I was wrong. That I was probably just a fetishist, that my relationship was preventing me from moving forward, and that maybe I should break up. Or forget about going on. And I didn’t know what to do. And they got tired of me being all stressed out (and telling them), but having no visible progress. So I stopped telling my problems to friends, and I didn’t come out to the rest of them. I didn’t want to worry more people about me.
I became distant, silent at the office. Then, the pressure of the projects became higher, and some projects got delayed. I must say that this was not my fault. I tried to do my best at all times, but my mind had a lot of issues to think about.
And one day, I told my boss.
Yeah, I told my boss. He was the first person in all the office to know. And to my amazement, he gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever had. He told me that it was not my decision whether my relationship would last or not.
I already knew I didn’t want to split up with my girlfriend. I knew that it was her decision. But I was so tired, that I had come almost to the point of breaking up. I just wasn’t able to do it. I wasn’t able to hurt her that bad.
Yes, I still feel bad about this. I’m a bad person, I know. How the mere thought of breaking up with my girl could have passed through my head?
The thing is, my boss’ advice gave me some strength. And I saw a new way to progress. So I came out to some other colleagues. One at a time. Two, at most. I didn’t want to make a scene of it. And to my relief, everybody was okay with it.
I set goals to myself. First, tell the managers. Then, tell the people in my workgroup. Then, tell the people in other workgroups. I went from the people I was closer to, to the people I didn’t know that much.
And to my joyful surprise, everybody was okay with it.
I even got hugs!
I guess that the chance of someone freaking out, or telling me to go to hell, or something like that, was always there. But it didn’t happen.
And then, act normal.
I tried to be always a close, supportive person with my colleagues. Even when I was about to break down, I tried to. And after I came out to them, I tried to keep it that way.
It took long before I told everyone. In the meantime, I finished the Accutane treatment, and my skin recovered, and the acne was gone for good. I decided that I couldn’t stop myself because I was afraid of hurting my girlfriend, and started being a girl at home at all times. And my girlfriend saw that she could cope with it, and we remained together. And when the time passed, I started having my beard lasered, and I got the courage to start showing myself in public as a girl. Well, I guess that the fact that my beard became not that obvious helped. And the first time I went to the street was the most liberating feeling ever.
That day, my girl was really scared. She was afraid that something could happen to me. And that same day I was approved for the blood tests that would allow me to do the hormone treatment.
From that day on, everything started to look up. From time to time I’d go out as a girl, and even my girlfriend would come with me. I still have a bit of concern every time I go out, but it’s definitely better. Keep in mind, I’m still having my beard removed, and sometimes I have still a bit of this ugly shadow under my nose.
And then we started telling friends again. Everybody was fine with it, and they were happy for us. And everything was better now. Now we came out as a couple, and now my girlfriend also got a lot of support. This was really great for us, and I guess it made us feel that everything was going to be okay.
And finally one day we decided to tell my girlfriends’ parents. That day I was really scared. But nothing happened. They were okay with it. And they told me that I was family. I almost cried.
So, it took almost a year to tell everyone. But now it is done. One person at a time, with a lot of caution. I guess I’ve hurt, or driven some people away in the process, and I’m sorry. I’ve always tried to do my best.
Everything has turned out to be so right, that when I think all that I’ve got now, I can’t help it, and my eyes get wet.