Um wow. Hi.
This is nuts but exactly one year ago today is the day I made the post below and came out to the world as trans.
I made that post with complete fear, not knowing what was going to happen next.
If I knew what I know now I wouldn’t have hesitated a second.
The last year of my life has been the best year of my life. I’ve spent so much time on myself, exploring who I am, figuring out my new home, what its like to work at a ‘real’ office on a regular schedule, and enjoying so many new experiences. This work has been immensely gratifying and the work has been worthwhile in every way.
Let’s talk more about the last year.
The night I came out we held a celebration dinner with a few close friends who were especially important (and able to come) on the journey. I’ll never forget that night and the people we shared a table with. It was a joyous, fun filled night that was only just the beginning.
Less than a month later, I was shedding tears as I told Oklahoma goodbye. Strangely that still remains the hardest part of this entire last year. I love my home state so much and I miss it still to this day — but its government has made it clear it does not value people like me. I hope one day I can return, but I refuse to give up my rights as a human being due to antiquated beliefs straight out of the Middle Ages.
Then there was my new job. The first day at my new job was so normal it hurt. Literally. I was expecting, as someone who was trans, to be somewhat of a novelty and people would want to talk to me about it. Instead, people were all like, “Hi Raychel welcome to the team!”
And it was normal. So normal. Too normal. But perfect all the same. And it’s remained that way. I’m still in awe of the work I get to do every day and the people I get to do that work with.
The little victories this past year have been immense. From conquering my fear of public restrooms (and public places period really) to being willing and able to do things like go shopping by myself. There have been hundreds and thousands of little victories this past year. Conquering insecurities, answering hard questions, and all of this while figuring out who I am as a person.
The Exploration Doesn’t End With Coming Out
When you come out as trans, some people assume (wrongly) that the work of exploring identity is over — but as I have found out that work only really just begun last August 8.
I’ve known I was trans most of my life, even if I didn’t have the language for it. But what that looks like and what my trans experience looks like is still a work in progress. The exploration of gender identity brings about many surprises and revealing discoveries.
First in this exploration, I have decided the binary doesn’t quite fit me. It never did. I don’t see myself on either end of the Male/Female binary people want to assign to the human race. I consider myself non-binary transfeminine.
Second, I’ve added they/them pronouns as acceptable ways to refer to me as. This is pretty simple, I have no preferences on they/them or she/her — I just feel that both are authentic to my experience as a human and how I see myself. I’ll certainly write on this part of my journey more as its a big piece of the self discovery I’ve undergone the last year.
There are so many other aspects of this exploration though. Gender presentation wise, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out my style, what clothes I truly like and what feels most authentic in presenting my identity to the world. Through this things I thought I liked I have learned I don’t. Other pieces of clothing I wasn’t sure of, they’ve become staples. The turnover in my wardrobe this past year has been immense. Being trans is about much more than the clothes, but in terms of gender presentation the style piece feels like a big part of how I’m able to authentically live.
The Point We Talk About Sage Advice
The last year-plus has been a whirlwind of lessons learned.
There are so many life lessons I’ve taken out of the past year that it’s only appropriate I share some of them in list form:
•Being trans isn’t necessarily the end of everything. I thought everything I had done, built, and labored over was coming to an end because the world wouldn’t accept me. I focused too much on the negative and not enough on the positive possibilities. There will be both good and bad, but refuse the human tendency to only focus on the negative possibilities.
•It’s ok to be scared, but you can’t let it ruin your way of life. Too many times I passed up on some possible amazing adventures just because I was too afraid to partake in them. Slowly I’m learning that the fear is ok to have, but conquering it is the outcome you want because you deserve to live your life freely.
•You will definitely lose some people in your transition, and you have to accept that. I found that accepting this fact before coming out meant that when it did happen I already had identified those who were definitely staying. Having people to lean on definitely made the whole experience much easier.
•There’s so much to learn that you are going to feel overwhelmed. Just because you ‘come out’ doesn’t mean you know much of anything. Being trans means accepting that you spent a lot of time being conditioned by a binary society to live on the wrong side of their binary from how you identify. That means you’ll definitely have a lot of little things to learn. Be patient with yourself and find people who’ll answer those questions for you.
•Don’t accept being alone. Sometimes this happens, even to me and I’m still happily married. Work really hard to find community. You are going to need them.
•There are weird periods of regret/second guessing which are perfectly normal because you are human. I never once thought about ‘going back’ but there were many moments when I was completely overwhelmed and wondered what the hell I was doing. This is normal because being trans is an overwhelming experience and by its nature pretty darned uncomfortable.
•You have to adopt radical grace and forgiveness for those around you. Do not accept as normal those who maliciously attack you — but do give those who are trying to honor you plenty of grace and forgiveness as they adjust to the new reality of your life. Some people aren’t going to make the switch with you seamlessly and that is ok — so long as they are trying I found it was worth giving them a long leash. But if they are malicious or completely careless in misgendering or deadnaming — kick them to the curb. I have an open door policy in that people can always come around, but I don’t have to actively put up with verbal abuse of who I am.
•Lastly, you have to love yourself. Being trans is an intense experience in coming out. Don’t be afraid to be selfish and work on honoring yourself with any number of things that set yourself up for success. For me, this was as intense moving out of Oklahoma which legally doesn’t recognize me in a meaningful way for the first time to start over in a new career field in New Mexico, which has strong LGBTQ+ protections enshrined into law.