(Note: I found as I wrote this that it ended up being much longer than anticipated. As such, it will have to be broken up–sorry for that.)
When I first revived this blog May 18th, 2018, I had just turned 28. My birthday was always sort of a depressing event for me: I can remember turning 16 or so, and my mom asking if I wanted to invite any of my friends over or do anything for my birthday–I also remember the deeply sad look she had when I said “No, I don’t like doing anything for my birthday.” The steady, inevitable march of time feels like a death knell to most (all?) closeted trans folk, especially during those teen years, as each year repressing is another year of irreversible physical changes.
Actually, as this blog can attest, it doesn’t end in one’s teen years, it just somehow becomes even darker as we gain both more self-awareness and develop evermore unhealthy ways of coping.
On the day I brought this blog back, I wrote five posts. Would that I could be so productive again, though not if it meant going back to that horrific mental state. Actually, I wrote six, but I deleted the last one: the only time I have ever done that on this blog. You see, in that lost one, I essentially wrote a dark letter to the girl I had thought I’d marry. I wrote that letter because I knew I had no choice but to come out to her, even if it meant the end of that eternal, immutable anchor of a relationship I thought we had.
For my twenty-eighth birthday, Naomi took me on a day trip to a beautiful, historic town about two hours away. We’ll call it Pandora (hey, if I’m going to embrace teenage angst-filled edginess for this blog, which I’m definitely entitled to do while going through a second puberty, I might as well crank the clichés to 11). Pandora was a place we both deeply loved, having visited there before–in fact, we almost moved there together when we first made our exodus from our homeland.
Pandora is a perfect place for a romantic day trip. It’s one of the best-preserved, oldest cities in this part of the Union, and boasts cobblestone pathways and centuries old buildings which house candy stores, souvenir shops, restaurants, and all sorts of other quaint businesses. The streets are shrouded by branches that seem to drape nearly to the ground, and Spanish moss which actually does in places. Historic paddle steamers are docked along the river.
Pandora is also known for being one of the most haunted cities in America, and offers all sorts of ghost tours once the lights go out. Naomi and I had actually done one with my parents, sister, and sister’s-now-fiancée. It was great fun then, and Naomi was really excited to have a chance to do another one.
I was excited, too. But even more anxious, because you see, it was on this trip that I had determined that I would come out to her.
Just a week before, she had asked me the question that had rocked my world: “Do you ever think of being a girl?”
It had led to a pretty big argument as I evaded the question, which led to an even further degradation of our dying sex life. A degradation she meant to fix, a week later, with a trip to Pandora.
I knew that, as much as the trip was a birthday present for me, it was also a mission to fix our sexual relationship. That night, after we had done everything else the town had to offer us, we would return to our motel room, and we would make everything “right” again.
I had decided that I wouldn’t confess to her until that night.
I’ll be the first to tell you that that was a strictly- and deeply-selfish move. It simply was. But that said, I just wanted to have one last, perfect day with the woman I loved, even if I knew it was going to end in catastrophe. The ethics of that decision weighed heavily on me, and just a day or two before we left, I wrote that last, deleted post.
I have no written record of that day, which was nearly a whole year ago now, so I am more than a bit hazy on the details. In fact, when I told Naomi that I had started on this post, she gave me some insights I had long forgotten, if I ever knew them at all:
“You were so quiet that day. I mean, you were always quiet, but especially that day. You just seemed…so sad.”
Funny, I thought I had done a pretty good job putting on a pretty good face…but then, do I ever?
Anyway, I was, in fact, distraught that day, despite doing my very best not to be. We visited beautiful old houses, walked along the river, toured the shops, ate candy (some of which was pretty disappointing, but the green apple Zots were delicious). At night, along that same river, we joined an improptu community dance/concert, dined on seared tuna, and toured through another beautiful (though now even more haunted, because of the darkness) old house. Despite how horrendously my secret hung over me, it was a beautiful way to spend a day with my girlfriend. In fact, up to that moment, I maintain it was the best birthday I’d ever had.
But you’re not on this blog, reading this story, to hear about the cishet (cisgender-heterosexual) fun the two of us had that day. You are here to read my experience of what it was like to come out as a transwoman to my very heterosexual girlfriend.
Actually, remember when I said that I had thought we’d get married? I had already asked her father for his permission to marry her, some three-ish months prior, a fact which Naomi was already well-aware of.
When we walked into that hotel room, we both knew what was supposed to come next. Naomi left me on the bed as she went to the bathroom to get ready. The bag which had been packed with everything we needed for the rekindling of our dying sex life lay half-open on the bed with me.
I could see it on Naomi’s face as soon as she emerged from the bathroom, likely because she could see it on mine: there would be no sex tonight. Or ever again, though I’m not certain either of us were fully cognizant of that fact yet.
Her initial reaction was to get angry. She had done so much, put so much of herself into this day to make it a perfect day for me, with the explicit purpose of remaking a perfect relationship for us. So I really didn’t want to have sex with her? I really didn’t find her attractive?
My initial reaction was to cower within myself. I said very little, and then, I said nothing at all.
How long into my sullen silence did it take for her to realize something was really, really wrong? It’s difficult for me to remember any scrap of these small details, because for as good as the day itself had been, that night was the worst I have ever experienced.
Was it before or after I began to hyperventilate? Again, I’m not really sure, but does it really matter?
I gritted my teeth as if to keep in my screaming breaths in as they grew more and more erratic. How could I do this to her? She had brought me the best three years of my life, and I had never loved another human being anything like I loved her. I never want to hurt anyone, but the thought of hurting her in particular, and in such a way as this…how could I live with myself?
What happened next? Did I start shivering first, or did she first start pleading with me to tell her what it was? Both definitely happened, and I guess the order isn’t especially important. I had never felt such a raw, visceral emotion such as this, and I had never had such a physical response to something emotional before. There was a buzzing in my head that would’ve been deafening, if my own gritted moans hadn’t already drowned them out.
“You have to tell me. Please tell me. I promise it’s okay, but you have to tell me.”
Again, how could I do this to her? I remember looking at her, and knowing that she knew.
“I can’t say it for you,” she said, fighting the tears that had been pouring for some time already. “You have to say it.”
I knew that, when Naomi was in the bathroom, my life was at a crossroads. I could either admit to her what I was, or keep it a buried secret forever, but whichever decision I made in that moment would be the one I had to live with. It was a degree of spiritual clarity which was at direct odds with how abysmally distraught I was.
In reality, though, I knew that if truly I loved her, there was but one path before me. I had already irrevocably altered the course of her life, but the three years we had together were without the strings of marriage, or especially, children. How could I live with myself if I buried my dysphoria for another decade, only to come out to my wife and our children once our lives had become more firmly established?
In fact, it was my love for Naomi, and my utter horror of potentially subjecting her to such misery that finally brought me out of the closet. I was at a point in my life where I saw three options, each of which I considered very, very seriously: kill myself; find a way to run away to Europe and not tell a soul; or come out and accept whatever fallout might come of that.
I knew, in my heart, that Naomi would never forgive me for the first two. She may not forgive me for the third, but at least there was the hope of it, a hope that I may not lose my best friend in the whole world.
I started to speak my truth many, many times, though I kept choking on the words.
How much time had passed since she had emerged from the bathroom? It felt like days. I think legitimately it may have been hours. Who knows, who cares.
“I think,” I finally wept. There were so many tears. I had been shivering and hyperventilating for so long. “Naomi, I don’t think it’s a fetish.”