January 30, 2011

In which I backtrack from last week's bravery

[In addition to all of our awesome visible and identifying columnists, we also have some awesome anonymous columnists that for one reason or another must use a pseudonym not their full name (and pseudopic?). Details on anonymous columnists here.]

I did not come out to my parents, everyone. I didn't even come close! My mom derailed everything right from the start by handing the phone to my dad instead, and while I love my dad he's totally different from my mom conversationally and I wasn't expecting that. Then, last weeks' "how is the LGBT center?" conversation was totally not revived, contrary to my expectations; instead, he asked about classes and then said he was watching the game (what game? I have no idea) and needed to go.

So. I've been fluttering around dealing with the rest of my life while wondering how I'm going to handle this.

I only named myself Lawrence a little while ago (October 16). Even that is kind of a long time, really, since I started coming out en masse to people pretty much as soon as I was settled on the name. Three and half months of being absolutely sure who I am, down to my very core, and living that out-- it's starting to feel more solid. But every time I comb through my history, trying to pin down one single day when I finally knew... it's like there's this whole huge chain of causality, and it just keeps stretching further back.

I knew my name on October 16 of this year. But before that, I spent six whole weeks this summer wearing exclusively dude clothes, as a treat to myself. And before that, I had my fraternity composite photo taken in a suit, because I knew how I wanted to look immortalized on the wall. I met with Janie February 9 last year, to tell her I was pretty sure I was transgendered (the first time I used to T-word to describe myself to someone else!). But even before then, I knew what road I was on. I was terrified, but I knew. I bought myself a binding shirt October 18, 2009. Almost exactly a year before I knew my name, I knew that I was going to bind my breasts often enough that I should invest in something better than Ace bandages. And it was November of two thousand and eight-- more than two years ago!-- when I first confided in a friend that I was uncomfortable with the way that people reacted to my gender expression, and that I wished people would use male pronouns to refer to me.

And now that I think of it, it was at just the same time that I started planning to create a male online pseudonym to write under, who would gradually take over the writing of my blog until I was able to retire my female pseudonym. In the end, I stopped blogging entirely rather than follow through with this plan, for reasons I couldn't adequately explain to myself at the time. But I was going to name that new pseudonym Lawrence.

I usually tell people that I should have known for years, that the evidence should have been obvious, that I did all kinds of things "for reasons I couldn't explain to myself at the time". And that's still true, I think-- there is surely another chain of causality stretching back from that Skype conversation in 2008, and who knows where it leads-- but I also think that really, I did know why I was doing the things I did. I was just afraid. Pretending I didn't understand my own reasons allowed me to do things I desperately needed to do-- like bind-- without facing my fears before I was really equipped to handle them.

This is where I whine about the fact that I saw three different therapists over those two years, and if one of them had been halfway competent they could have shown me that I really had no reason to be living in fear of myself-- but I have made it out the other end regardless.

I guess this is really just another kind of pep talk for myself, trying to accumulate proof to use as armor (or weapons?) in the showdown against my parents... and trying to remind myself that in every case, for two years at least, as soon as I conquered the fear I discovered that there had been nothing to be afraid of after all. So although I am still terrified that my parents will disown me, prevent me from seeing my brothers, refuse to pay for my study abroad this summer-- I know that really, even if it doesn't go well (which it doesn't always!), it can't be as bad as I fear. And I will be glad that I've done it.

Hopefully after a few more weeks of using the blog as public therapy to psych myself up (sorry, folks!), I'll actually have something to report here... in the mean time, I'd like to remind folks that I'm always up for questions, no matter how basic, and that I love email! So you can comment here or email me at lawrenceevalyn (at) gmail (dot) come and you'll pretty much make my day.


  1. Don't you hate phone calls that you can't get onto the topic that you want? I was going to tell my mom about my girlfriend this weekend (I came out over winter break and my dad and my brother are aware that I'm dating her and are happy for me, but my mom was still adjusting so I wanted to wait a bit to inform her that the relationship that makes me so happy doesn't involve a single boy), but our entire phone conversation was about her week and her issues and she gave me to my dad before I could say a single word.

    I hope that, when you have the conversation, it goes well.

    And I just wanted to thank you for writing for this blog. The honesty with which you write is nothing short of amazing and I know, at the very least, you've inspired me to be more open about who I am. So, thanks. And good luck.

  2. Great post Lawrence! I look forward to these every week and I wish you the best with your parents.