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Yesterday was National Coming Out Day, and as a Queer I am obligated by the sacred oaths I took when I was initiated via the rites of Sappho the Elder to write about it. So, here goes.
Out. I have been “out” for six years, although as most of my fellow folks in their various rainbow colors or lack of colors entirely will agree, coming out is not as stagnant a process as the world would have us believe. We come out, and then we come out again, and then we come out again and again and again.
For me, coming out remained fluid as well, because my own understanding of my gender identity and my sexuality has evolved over the last six years. Maybe in six more years it’ll have evolved more. Maybe by then the singularity will have occurred and you won’t need me to write this because we’ll all be connected in the great link.
I’ve been of a few minds in regards to my identity lately. I went through something of a profound mental crisis about a month ago that caused me to go into some deep introspection about myself and the world around me. I began thinking a lot about parallel universes, or just the concept that maybe somewhere, somehow, there’s a place where I was born a cisgender woman instead of as a transgender one. I think about that version of me and what her life is like.
Her name wouldn’t be Riley. It would be Holly. I know that because I was a Christmas baby and my mom thought that Holly would’ve been a good choice for a seasonal but not too on-the-nose girl name.
I wonder what life is like for Holly Silverman. I imagine her relationship with her family is vastly different. There’s a pretty good chance her mother spoiled her. I imagine she wouldn’t have spent her younger years feeling broken because her body didn’t feel detached from what her mind was telling her. I imagine she didn’t live in constant fear that someone would find out about her feelings. I imagine that she got to wear that dress to prom that she wanted so badly.
Then I start thinking about other things. Would she have found science fiction as an alternative to the sports obsession of the rest of her family? Would she have made friends with the same people that I did in high school? She wouldn’t likely have been the “best man” at Matt and Katie’s wedding. Maybe she wouldn’t have even been there at all. I wonder if she’d even be a comedian. Absent the isolation and strong sense of being an outsider, would she have developed the same sense of humor?
Often, as recently as this week, when I refer to my existence I will use words like “curse” or “cosmic joke.” I’ll grieve for the life that Holly gets to live somewhere and that I don’t get to have. The more I thought about National Coming Out Day this year though, the more I really started to question that thought process, and to see the dead end of the road it could lead me down.
A frequent and flawed debunk tossed at transgender people is that “God doesn’t make mistakes,” when referring to our true gender versus the gender we were assigned at birth. There’s a few scientific examples for why that argument is flawed, but since it is a faith-based argument, I choose to answer it with a faith-based response.
I play my personal faith cards pretty close to the chest, but I’ll say that from my personal theological or spiritual standpoint, I do not consider who I am to be a mistake. If there is some divine plan, some reasoning to the universe, then I believe that this path was given to me for a reason and it is my challenge, my life’s work, to figure out that reason and rise to it.
So, this National Coming Out Day, that’s what being “Out” means to me. It’s about not wishing that I was someone who fit better into the world. It’s about not pining for a road you can’t possibly go down. Coming out, and being out, living out, is about finding your place in the world as exactly who you are. Let Holly have her life, and I’ll have mine.