Thursday, October 28, 2010

a little background

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.

1 comment:

  1. I use you as an example in my own life daily. I want the kind of love and happiness for those in my own life that you have in yours. Thank you for living such an open, honest and vulnerable life. It is a much harder goal than any other kind of success. I am so glad that our paths crossed and I was able to learn from your example.