My coming out story comes in sections. Here is a short version:
I had a series of “identity realizations.” I first came out as a lesbian in the mid-80’s. That didn’t go very well with my parents. We worked together over time and they came to understand more about me and my sexual orientation. At that time I was somewhat feminine — especially when I was “dressing up.”
In about 1994 I met Leslie Feinberg who wrote “Stone Butch Blues.” The book is a novel about a lesbian in the 1950’s who questions her gender and lives her life as a “man.” Leslie came to Cornell, where I was working, and gave a lecture about the book. She was wearing a double-breasted, gray pin-strip suit, wing-tip shoes and her hair was in a flat-top. She blew my mind. She looked the way I wanted to look and was told that I wouldn’t be successful if I did.
She gave me a model for who I wanted to be. The internet was pretty new, there weren’t many books and I didn’t know much about transgender folks. I started wearing men’s cloths full-time and gave my dresses away and starting wearing my hair in a flat-top. My parents came for a visit and weren’t very happy about it. I was pretty sure that my journey would not include transitioning to male. I used to call where I lived “the gender gray.” Now I identify as gender queer. My parents came to appreciate how comfortable I am in my skin and that I became an advocate and educator around the issues.