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Introducing Doll, Racked's first transgender guest blogger. Always secretly wishing he'd been born a Barbie, Doll was a young army brat who grew up and became a citizen of the world. After landing in Manhattan, he became a New York fashion insider, working in a high-powered industry position, living a life worthy of a feature film.
After mysteriously vanishing from the scene, Doll recently resurfaced and has embarked on a new roller-coaster ride of a journey. Follow his transformation, week by week, right here on Racked.
"Nothing weighs on us so heavily as a secret."—Jean De La Fontaine
Doll: For the past month I've grappled with disclosure issues in relation to friends and potential dates. I've wondered about both the ethics of disclosure and the practical and real life consequences. Some days I feel so frustrated with the complexities that I feel like emblazoning the word "Tranny" on my forehead—just to make life simpler.
The ethical questions are so complicated. On a basic level, of course it's the right thing to disclose. That way, you live positively and there's nothing to hide. It's all out in the open. There's also the bravado of saying, "If anyone doesn't accept it then they are not worth knowing"—but it's easier said than done. It's all too superficial for my liking.
My BFF Dr. Ken strongly advises I avoid disclosure, especially during initial meetings—first impressions always last, he says. Also in some circumstances, disclosure can come across as self-absorbed and attention-seeking. Nowadays, whenever I find myself being introduced to a complete stranger by a friend, because of the fact that I can still be perceived as an androgynous boy, my paranoia and insecurities set in and ultimately get the best of me, so I become compelled to immediately tell them upfront that I am in transition to avoid anyone viewing me as a complete freak—a she, a he, an it.
Since transsexualism is rarely of any consequence to most people's lives, the term carries with it a stigma created by the media and urban mythology. To some people, transsexuals are she-males on porn sites. To others, transsexuals are freaks of nature and an abomination of God’s work. To still others, transsexuals are cross-dressers who lost the plot and probably have an issue with their mothers. Et cetera.
My experiences so far has led me to believe that two things happen after disclosure—depending on the open-mindedness of the other person:
1. You'll cease being an accomplished person who is fun to be with, who possesses good character, has fascinating ideas or interests. You become only a transsexual, full stop. "Oh, So-and-so is a transsexual. Didn't you know?" No more, "She's really fun," or "She does XYZ." No, "She's a tranny. She used to be a man." Most people will immediately superimpose a transsexual caricature over you. The real you ceases to exist and they get the completely wrong idea of who and what you are, and all explanations tend to be seen with suspicion since it runs contrary to what they think they know. Or...
2. You are embraced and celebrated for your boldness and courage in your pursuit to become your true self.
In this context, I ask myself which is being more honest—allowing people see me as who I am today or let them completely get the wrong idea about me? You could even say that, by not disclosing, I am protecting people (and myself) from their misconceptions.
For now, I have decided that when making new acquaintances, it makes sense for me to hold off on disclosure as long as possible so the person gets a really good feel for who I really am. That way, I at least have a chance of overcoming preconceived notions.
This brings me to the next issue: Dating. Many of the above issues probably hold true with dating, except the stakes are higher.
I wanted to do a social experiment, so this past month I went out with the Dolls to different bars and clubs fully dressed as a girl. My main objectives were to practice assimilating in a heterosexual environment and to see if I would get spooked (tranny vocab for getting called out). This test encompassed my interactions among both men and women—mainly men of course, hot men to be exact.
I have met and gone out on a few dates with several men; all of whom I have yet to disclose my true self. I have a rule that I wouldn't say anything unless things start getting physical, and then I'd tell all. And so far, so good!
Readers please know that I am very much aware that bitter resentment at being deceived could be a calamity for someone like me. At worst, I know I could be a victim of physical violence. Transsexual people have been badly beaten and even killed by enraged men who could not come to terms with learning their lover had once been a different gender. Such a discovery greatly threatens their own sexual identity, and violence toward transsexuals can be the unfortunate result. Bottom line: I am always aware of the potential for violence when I conceal my situation from a partner.
That being said—I take great precaution when interacting with these men, especially since I am still in the transition process. In the meantime, I simply live for the day with no expectations. When I do decide to disclose, I will set aside a special time and place to do when it feels right. I imagine my angle would be along the lines of "I really value your friendship and I feel like you should know something about me that I rarely tell people." Or something like that. I would only do this if I thought there was a very good chance of improving the friendship or taking the relationship a step further. I do know that before these relationships do start to flourish I have every intention of being completely honest on disclosing such a revelation. I actually plan on telling one of the guys I’m seeing this week.