Tuesday 14 August 2012

14th August 2012.

In one of my answers to ‘Eight Questions’, I mentioned that 15th August 2012 is a significant day for me. Because on that date I will be 48 years and 247 days old, the exact age that my famous relative came out. That day is now tomorrow.

Yesterday I spent time with my mother and sister; and one reason I did so – apart from the obvious one of spending time with my mother and sister – was to start ‘the conversation’.

“While we've got a moment, there's something I need to say...”
“Can I ask you both something: I've been thinking about coming out and...”
“Did you know that on Wednesday I'll be 48 years and 247 days and...”
“Can I just... You both know I'm a transvestite, right?”

It was a good plan. By speaking to them together I'd avoid having to do so individually, while they would have each other for moral support should they need it.

Several opportunities arose during the course of the day. Natural lulls in conversation where I could have spoken into the silence. I took none of them. I wanted to speak and yet I couldn't. I couldn't, even though I'm 99.99% sure they both know already. In short, I totally bottled it; at least it certainly felt – and feels – that way.

The problem for me is (as I related in ‘Eight Questions’ and earlier in ‘Stealth’) that we don't talk about this; we've never talked about this. There's a great big wall around this, and it's a wall almost entirely of my making.

Over the years I've made it very clear (without words) that I did not want to talk about this. For instance, when I was a teenager, and my mother found a nightdress I'd neglected to hide, and she tried to talk to me about it in a lovely “it's okay if this is what you like to wear in bed” kind of way, I sat there like a stone and thought about running away from home, until the extreme uncomfortableness eventually dissipated. And later, when she discovered me in bed actually wearing a (different) nightdress, she knew better than even to try and talk about it. So we didn't talk about it then; and we haven't talked about it since. And at other times, whenever conversation has headed even vaguely in this direction, I've deliberately steered it elsewhere.

So now there's just this wall.

But this is the thing: I no longer feel like the wall is really shielding me but that it's shielding them. When I tried tentatively to broach the subject a few weeks ago, the wall was propped up from the other side. Also (as I said in ‘Eight Questions’) my shelves are openly full of trans-related books. These shelves are mounted on the wall above one of the twin beds in my bedroom. Both my sister and a family friend have slept in that room, in that bed beneath those books, when they've come to stay. And so far, no one has said anything; no one has asked why those books are there, why I have them, what they're for, what they mean. Is it because they're now nervous of the answer? (The books indicating it's about more than just a boy wearing a nightie in bed.) Or because they think they already know the answer and are respecting my privacy? (Which would be so frustrating!)

In a lovely piece about his own cross-dressing, David Torrey Peters tells how his girlfriend “borrowed my laptop to check her e-mail and noticed an online transgendered support group cached in my web browser. She rotated the laptop towards me and asked with a raised brow, “Um…what is this?” I could have laughed it off, or explained it away, but years of compartmentalizing my life had drained me of the energy. At the sight of the screen, an incredibly fast-moving exhaustion travelled across my body like the shadow of a plane flying above. She stared, expectant. “That's me.”

I feel that lack of energy more and more. That inertia, that closet-weary, soul-sapping, fed-up-with-it-all-tiredness of separating different parts of myself from each other.

So now what? Can I continue to take (what seems like) the easy option and wait until someone finally does ask and then just say “yes”? Or will that asking never occur again? Is the wall now everywhere (like Sylvia Plath's ‘Bell Jar’)? Do I have to dismantle it myself and sod the (possible) consequences?

Any advice gratefully received. (Even if I won't necessarily follow it.)

Or perhaps I should just ask famous relative.