Self-outing

It would be nice to think of this as an issue that one day i would need to face, although, pessimistic me, i have my doubts about ever “passing” all that convincingly. Still, this is something i’ve discussed before – and i am interested in views from others on here.

Genuinely interested, by the way, because i know my views have been shifting over the last few months. When and how is it right to “out oneself”? Assuming one does “pass”, when should one tell. Or indeed, should one?

In work, i know i have changed. A few months back, i tended to add a slightly self-deprecating explanation at the end of e-mails to new contacts, pointing out my trans status. I don’t do that any more. I am feeling less trans, more female: and for work, it seems to me, it is no-one’s business whatsoever.

In this context (see my Politics Blog for more details) I am with Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, who was recently to be heard arguing that maybe, in future, official documents should be gender-free unless gender was absolutely required.

But what about personal interaction? On a date, for instance? It was a comment by the lovely Natascha Kennedy, berating New York agony uncle, the Ethicist, for his advice on this issue that set me off.

Natascha has interpreted the guy as advising trans men and women to out themselves on a first date. I am not so sure. A close reading of his “advice” suggests he may have contradicted himself.

That is, the reader has gone on a first date and detected a lot of evasiveness. They didn’t know their data was trans: just evasive. And, as some people will, they then went off and dug. My partner would do that.

The Ethicist’s answer is ambiguous. On the one hand, he is against “premature disclosure” – which i think means he doesn’t think you need to out yourself on a first date. But then he talks about such information being important “before a first kiss”.

Assuming he means one of those smoochy, melty red hot first kisses (as opposed to a polite peck on the cheek at the end of a date), he may have a point – and he may be coming in for some unwarranted stick.

Or is he? Is self-outing ever necessary? I’m not convinced it is. Or rather, if one is post op, i’d say it absolutely is not, except insofar as it is germane to the evolving relationship. Like, the fact that you might be infertile.

Obviously, it would be unfair to start a relationship with someone desperate for children. Equally, i think it would be seriously awkward to commence a serious sexual relationship pre-op without just happening to mention that there may be a surprise in store when your would-be beloved removes your knickers. 🙂

Otherwise, though, does one, should one out? I am not at all sure one should.

jane
xx

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natacha Kennedy said,

    I agree,

    the choice of ‘outing’ should be up to the individual, and to their circumstances and the desires of the potential partner, not to an ignorant journalist in New York. This is even more important in the US where the murder rate for transwomen is very high. Once again cis people seem to be more concerned about ‘deception’ than anything else.

    Maybe the issue of ‘deception’ is one we may need to tackle head-on at some point?

    • 2

      janefae said,

      Don’t think we’re that far apart. I think “deception” is a very bad term…and as you say, choice should be to the individual.

      Off to hospital now for a small op. (yuk!)

      Chat in a day or so….

      jane
      xx

  2. 3

    Lucy Melford said,

    Well, I’m personally more in the market for a ‘good friendship’ and a sexless one at that, and to that end I don’t want to get something pleasant going and then have to drop a bomb on it later on. Such action might destroy any trust built up. The reasoning here is that if anybody is cool about my being trans, then at least I have no further fibs to tell them, and the friendship is then free to develop as it may.

    I do see that if you want an immediate hot sexy passionate kind of relationship, the issue becomes trickier. Nothing really helpful to say on that, except that I’d still be inclined to disclose all at the outset and risk a huge let-down. It seems more honest in a pure, naive sense, although I dare say experience tells you that high motives rarely get their proper reward.

    Lucy

  3. 4

    Phoebe said,

    I think “when you want to, or it makes sense to you to do so” is probably the best time to out yourself. A lot of people assume that prospective partners won’t be trans but it hardly makes someone they’ve taken an attraction to deceptive, given that it’s just a false assumption. A lot of closer emotional long term relationships are built on mutual disclosure and trans status and past life history (of stuff related to or not related to trans stuff) could be part of that, but I don’t think this is an ethical matter really.

    • 5

      janefae said,

      Back from hospital and BORED! I think this is more or less where i am. I think the use of words like “deception” is a bit incendiary and not really useful. My bottom line is: you reveal to other people what is relevant and appropriate to a particular stage of your relationship.

      That will balance your circs, your partner’s circs, and relevant facts… If your partner is very into having kids, then the fact that you are unable to is rather more germane than your trans status.

      post-op…i am not sure there is any need to “out oneself” at all, except in this sense: that if one doesn’t, one’s life story may not make total sense, and there will always be some degree of not-quite-rightness about you. That will eat away at trust and, in time, maybe undermine a long-term relationship.

      pre-op raises different issues…not least is the possibility that “dating action” may eventually head southwards…and if you haven’t prepared your partner for what they might find, then, i think, the d-word will enter discussion. In one sense, that ought not to be a prob for me, because i would self-describe as pretty “stone” right now…and don’t particularly want ANYONE touching down there.

      Still, its the sort of thing that happens…and should be said. Not because its some big thing, so much as again because its a dissonance. Like, if you claim to be in a flash job with a fast car…and it turns out you ain’t.

      Ethical? It turned up in a column with that word in the title…and maybe there is some slight ethical dimension to this, since it is aboutthe bottom line of when it is right to reveal things and what right other people have to your private life.

      jane
      xx


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