National Coming Out Day—also known as International Coming Out Day—is not all cracked up as people like to think it is. If you are LGB and white—depending on where you live—chances are: you feel safe coming out, at anytime; you are completely comfortable throwing around problematic catchphrases like, “It get’s better.”
Then, there is the rest of us in the T*QIA+ areas of the rainbow, where coming out means risking oneself in every area of their lives. And if you are a person of colour anywhere in the LGBT*QIA+ spectrum, it’s all that much more risk.
Look, I can’t speak for all trans* people. I can only speak to my experiences and maybe they will ring true for other people who are not cis-LGB.
And I can’t even begin to speak for people of colour because I have white privilege.
I can never know what it’s like for people of colour who live in a world made to favour white people, plus have to deal with a whole other types of cultural toxic-masculinity. And if I dare to name any other issues people of colour face, I am sure to put my foot in my mouth and say something unwillfully ignorant. I could retell stories I hear from people of colour but those are their stories and I don’t want to take them away. I want to help find solutions to support those voices*.
Since I came out, it hasn’t gotten better. It has gotten far, far worse. I was lucky to be able to setup a support network and find a good trauma and gender therapist. Because, even if it hasn’t gotten better, overtime, it has gotten easier to lose all fucks given when I face yet another daily attack because I was brave enough to come out. It could be argued that losing all fucks given is not good; it’s a signal of having given up on the idea that one day, it will be safe for T*QIA+ people to come out, and people of colour anywhere in the rainbow to come out.
Since coming out, I face continued death threats, weekly—periods where it’s daily—DDoS attacks, doxing, rape threats, people phoning the RCMP and emailing schools to say I force my children into child porn, loss of the ability to find work, losing 90% of people in my life, constant misgendering and inappropriate questions when seeking medical care, denied medical treatment, having government officials use the phrase “people like you,” when updating my sex marker on my ID and marriage certificate, being asked for ID after using the gender-appropriate washroom, being attacked while working during a convention, while still enduring street harassment because—outside of my friends—the world still perceives me as a woman, while also being gay and living with a life-threatening auto-immune disorder, just to name a few things, I still have white privilege.
I still have white privilege. I can’t even begin to image how much worse it would be if I was a person of colour.
A lot of my trans friends are really depressed today. They see all of these LGB people coming out, some of them for the umpteenth time since National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988, and they don’t have the privilege of doing so because coming out puts all areas of their lives at risk. Many of my trans friends have had to phone crisis lines as they are forced into another day of presenting as cis, while LGB people write articles celebrating LGBT people, while ignoring the T, everything that comes after it, and people of colour.
When it comes to trans rights, we are about where we were with gay rights in the early 1980s and HIV came into public awareness. People think trans rights has to do with washroom. No. It’s one of those issue used to distract from the basic human right of living life without fear of losing everything—including your life—for simply existing. When it comes to intersex rights, well Harper wants us to report our neighbours to the RCMP for barbaric cultural practices (meaning anything not white) while it’s still legal to mutilate intersex newborns. Meaning: Rarely do you see anything about intersex rights in mainstream media.
As I’ve said before, I don’t begrudge cis people of National Coming Out Day. I just wish it wasn’t so cisnormative and filled with so much white cis privilege.
Remember: Keep calm and come out on your terms, and don’t out people, ever. And until it becomes safe for you to come out, I hope you can find some small solace in knowing that you are not alone.
*If you are a trans* person of colour who wants to share your story, even if you’re not Canadian, even if it’s done anonymously, drop me a line. While I don’t want to co-opt your stories, I do want to share them.