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“Hello, I’m Different”: The Alienation of Coming Out (Mars' Hill Article)

- Lex Diersch (they/them)

November 3, 2021

Sacred /ˈsākrəd/ (Adj.)

unusual, inexplicable, extraordinary

I was in my cousin’s car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. I was trying to explain how emotionally and mentally exhausting it is to come out to someone, even if you know that person will be supportive. She did not get it. She could not understand from her cis woman point of view what coming out as trans or non-binary is like, no matter how eloquently I crafted metaphors.

Stuffing myself into a closet for over six months was suffocating and damaging in so many ways. Coming out was life-changing––it meant I could finally live free from the shackles of binaries and just exist as I am.

But no one talks about coming out as a process. I always hear coming out stories as a one-time thing: you do it once, and then you are out, and that is it. That is not true in the slightest.

It is a process––long, and difficult, and exhausting. It involves a lot of tears, a lot of broken relationships, and a lot of hurtful words that echo in your head for the rest of your life. It is explaining over, and over, and over, and reintroducing yourself to everyone you have ever met. It is broken hearts and unanswered texts and lying awake at night wishing you were in a different body or a different life. It is looking in the mirror and not seeing yourself––only a distorted version that you can no longer bear to look at. It is having a panic attack because the restaurant only has two washrooms and you cannot for the life of you bring yourself to pick one because neither feels right or you are just too ashamed and uncomfortable to choose the right one. It is being called the wrong name and being gendered in a way that twists the knife in your stomach. They call you the wrong things and you correct them, but they either do not hear you or just do not care.

It creates a chasm between you and the people you have always loved that is so deep it may never be repaired. It makes people look at you differently. It is transitioning for months or years, but people still get it wrong. It is being so completely exhausted from constantly trying to correct people and stick up for yourself that you eventually give up and stop caring and let the knife twist deeper and deeper until you can no longer feel anything except the steel.

It is going onto social media and seeing people who are like you denied healthcare, hate-crimed, and discriminated against. It is watching your classmates and your government debate over your right to exist as yourself.

It is alienating. It is being marked as “other”—the name you use is not the same as the one on your ID. It is stepping up and saying, “Hello, I’m different.” It is crying alone as your world falls apart because nobody understands. It is lying awake because you are not completely sure who you are anymore––you live a double life and you can never be fully rid of your past self. It is emailing professors saying, “I know there is a different name in the system but I do not use that one anymore.” It is hoping that people will ask you what pronouns you use or just somehow intuitively know because if you have to correct someone one more time you are going to scream. It is wanting everyone to see you for who you truly are––to love you because, not despite.

It is a never-ending uphill battle. It is gruelling. But I would rather be sacred than nothing.


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