Stealth can have it's drawbacks. Hardly anybody in my life now has ever known me as anything but the everyday woman I essentially am. There is a downside. Whilst I can agonise and share and listen to others where girl things are concerned I can't talk about where I am now. It's particularly true at work. Not being able to talk about the nasties of the recent months where distant family members seem to have gone out of their way to exclude me isn't good. Where the reason for heartache is my trans-ness and it's effect on my life, I'm pretty well on my own. I know from bitter experience that loneliness and secrecy is a downhill rocky road to depression and anxiety. Anyone who has had to live with a secret for a really long time must experience that at some point.
Given where I am now, I thanked my lucky stars when J came up to me on the last day at work and asked how I was. I seldom see her these days because we work in different parts of the same large college. J is lesbian, she has kids a similar age to mine. I didn't really say anything in reply, I think my face said it all. She gave me such warm hug, she drew me away from everyone else and we chatted. It was such a relief. Being able to talk about rejection, unkind family members, our separate gender orientations and much more left me feeling supported and smiling. I couldn't thank her enough.
I have my own hang ups and personal challenges. Before I began my transition I had this prejudice against the lesbian community. I'm ashamed of ever being that way now. I can pretty well peg it to an unkind remark made to me but not about me concerning MtF transsexuals and TV's. The woman in question has long since disappeared out of my life but she was very much a lesbian feminist. I know with hindsight that looking back many people thought I was closet gay, probably this woman as well. She probably had no idea that I would find the remark hurtful. What she said was unkind all the same because it discounted trans women and made me feel distinctly uncomfortable because I had a secret I couldn't share.
I realise that I too have been guilty of prejudice and failure to understand. I'm a woman who likes guys, J is a woman who likes women, she doesn't peddle an agenda, she's just a lovely person. It's not the first time J has been so supportive. By being herself, open and honest with me, J has completely changed my perception of the lesbian community in a good way. It always leaves me thinking about whether I should be more open about my identity if it would help others understand what trans people are really like. I don't know. What holds me back is the public ridicule being trans can attract and the awful idea of having to reveal to others that the woman they know was at one time perceived as male.
I suspect that until the way outed trans people are treated changes I will never have the courage to be open but I'm sure that until people like me do there will always be prejudice and mis-understanding.