Content Warning for Rape and Murder of Trans People.
I think the biggest misconception of all is that queer people are in the closet because we are too scared to be out and went looking for a place to hide. That’s not how we got there. The closet was being built around us before we even experienced sexual attraction: with bricks of hetero- and cisnormativity and bi-erasure, held together by the mortar of prejudice and stereotype, and reinforced with severe homo-, bi- and transphobia. For the sake of this post, like most of mine, I mean queer as in the queer community. There’s also asexual and aromantic phobia and policing and gatekeeping once you come out of the closet.
If you take a look at my identity and the LGBTQIA acronym, I hit like 4 identities. I’m biromantic, transgender, intersex, and demi sexual, meaning I’m halfway sexual halfway asexual. Basically, I’m as queer as a three dollar bill. Yet, most people just associate me with being trans.
I’ve been out of the closet since 2011, and I came out as trans in February of 2012. Yet, I didn’t know I was intersex until last May when my hormone doctor casually mentioned it. Even now that’s not something that a lot of people know about me. I’ve never even had the conversation with my parents about it.
When I told my mother I was trans, she was not the ally she is now. She told me that if she could re-train my brain, she would tell it that I’m a woman. When I came out as bi in high school, my Dad heard I like boys and girls as I like boys. When you’re in the middle of a spectrum, you get flack from both sides.
I’ve had tons of people that are gay and lesbian tell me that they first came out as bi to their parents to “ease the blow.” I’ve been told to pick a sexual attraction. I’ve been told that I can’t identify as bi if I won’t sleep with everyone. From the queer community that is supposed to embrace me, and the cisgender heterosexual community.
What this did was force me to stay in the closet. When I dated my last boyfriend, and we were both trans men, people either saw us as very butch lesbians, or gay men. They did not see us as bisexuals, because bisexuals do not exist.
I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. I blocked a lot of stuff out because I needed to survive. I needed to survive because I knew, even at a young age, that I was different, that different was scary, that I wasn’t safe. I remember the feeling of lace on my legs as I sat in my grandmother’s church, wearing dresses. I’d go back over a decade later dressed traditionally masculine, and my grandparents are wonderful people. But I was in first grade and I felt that the dresses I was being forced to wear every week were burning my skin. But I couldn’t say, Grandma, I don’t want to wear dresses. I just knew that it was something I had to do. I remember in fifth grade when I had a crush on a girl and I was in a book club with a really good friend, who was a boy, and we were all saying people we had crushes on and I had to make up a boys name because I knew in fifth grade that it wasn’t okay for me to like girls, too. Plus, I think forcing elementary school kids to have crushes and talk about them in a book club is a little bizarre.
I remember a few years later when people told me that I would want to have sex some day. And so far, I’m still not too wild about it. But the point is, I was always aware of it. I remember middle school and I dressed in boy clothes a majority of the time. I remember when my friend and I were going to the mall to watch a movie and my Mom made me wear a dress and put makeup on me and told me not to take it off. I remember my ex best friends Mom seeing me as she picked me up and I was close to tears, so she took me to Target and bought me some boy clothes, which included boxers, which we kept at her sons house.
I didn’t go to the closet to hide because I was scared of living authentically. When I was sixteen, I watched Boys Don’t Cry in the basement with the lights off and the sound off in the middle of the night because all I knew about it was that there was a boy like me who had female body parts. I watched in horror as Brandon Teena was violently raped then murdered. I told myself that I would only live as a boy if I had no other options.
Then once I came out, I got flack from the community that was supposed to embrace me, especially now that I’m not as masculine as people would like me to be. Closets don’t just happen over night. My Mom, as much as I love her, as much as she has done for me in the last two years, did not just start with a comment that I needed to go to gender therapy to accept I’m a woman, instead of moving forward in my transition. Closets are a prison that society creates by telling people that who they are is unacceptable.