Coming Out

Coming Out

In the week that a good-looking young man, Tom Daley, Olympic diver, came out as bisexual I have found myself wondering why this even constitutes news. To me it reinforces the impression that even today to differ from the heterosexual norm is still seen by too many people as worthy of comment.

So what are people going to make of me?


After about thirty years of hiding who I really am from the world through fear of people’s negative reactions I recently came out to my wife about one of the causes of my secretive nature and a trigger for my depression. While I am mostly attracted to women I do also find some men attractive. Not that I’d ever act on this: I’m married and would never contemplate being unfaithful.

But that’s not the whole of my admission. Not by a long chalk. You see, since the age of about 10 I have wanted to be a woman. As a child I borrowed my mother’s clothing when I was alone in the home — at least until I grew too big to fit. As she never said anything to me I always assumed that it was my secret. It turns out that she was aware and discussed the matter with my wife about 10 years ago. And asked her not to say anything to me. I never knew until now that either of them suspected.

I remember a few times when I was en femme, in my early teens, and looking at myself in the bathroom mirror. I recall wishing that I could somehow step through the mirror and be a girl on the other side. I can pass as male without many problems but it has never felt natural; as if I’m not being myself but rather just playing a part. Trying to meet expectations of how I should be. I’ve felt so bad about my body at times that I have taken hormones — oestrogen — when I could get hold of them illicitly. I’ve contemplated castrating myself although the risks and consequences were too serious for me to act on this.

The pressure of the secrecy got to me, made me ill. I came clean to my wife. I told her how I felt, who I am. She said she knew. That shocked me! And when she told me that my mother had known too… It’s no use worrying about what might have been: I have to make the best of where I am today. The good thing is that the relationship between myself and my wife is as strong as it ever was. Hopefully now we have gotten past the bad period where we were failing to communicate effectively and ended up hurting each other.

The first thing I did was buy some new clothes (assisted by my wife who has been completely behind me with her support) and began to spend my time at home in my female identity. I have chosen the name Alex — short for Alexandra — since Ben is a male name. After a two or three weeks of this I decided that I wanted to be myself in public, and my wife and I went out together to a local town, Farnborough, to do some shopping.

Normally we do not meet anybody we know on these outings but that day we encountered three people we know well socially. They reacted very positively to me as Alex and that gave me confidence to go out to the pub that night. I was very nervous when we arrived and insisted that my wife stay close by me as we went in. But as it turned out I had no need to worry: as they started to get over their shock nearly everybody was accepting — even supportive — and I felt relaxed and happy. I even got up and danced for a while — something that I would have been far too self-conscious to do as Ben. But I reasoned that if I could walk in there as Alex, then getting up and dancing was no problem.

That was just over two weeks ago. Since then I have been living as Alex the whole time except for at work where I am still Ben. Most people we know socially now call me Alex, at least when they remember. It has been such a positive experience and I can’t remember when I last felt this happy and contented. Several people have commented that it was a brave thing to do: it didn’t feel that way to me. It was scary, sure, but also felt like something I had to do. The time for hiding was past.

I have also spoken to my doctor about this and am now in the process of being referred to a psychiatrist for gender dysphoria diagnosis. I know that in an earlier post I said that I did not have this condition and that I was content with my body, but that was not true. That was my long-established, ingrained habit of hiding it, of being too afraid to be open about who I really am. The truth, as I stated above, is that I have the wrong body for my gender. I identify not simply as feminine but as female. And that is why I have now started the long process of altering my body to bring it into line with my identity.

I know that a lot of people who know me as Ben have questions, and some of them have been hesitant to approach me. Let me state here that I welcome such questions and will do my best to answer them: I much prefer that people ask me whatever they want to know rather than wonder about this. I am still the same person I have always been. It is just that now I am being true to myself, being who I really believe I am. And that is Alex. The discomfort of being Ben, of being imprisoned in a male body, was slowly grinding me down and causing me harm.

As far as work goes this post will be the first that anybody there has heard about this. I do not intend to transition at work for a while — several months at least. There is a lot of preparation to be done first, and I would like to be some way into my physical transition. Unlike in the pub I am not simply going to turn up one day dressed and made up as Alex: I want people to be aware beforehand so that they can be prepared.

So that, in a nutshell, is that. I am Alex, a trans woman. Currently pursuing a diagnosis and medical treatment to bring my body more into line with my gender identity. And most importantly I am happy.

56 thoughts on “Coming Out

  1. I am very glad for you that it seems this transition is going so well. I (too) think you are incredibly courageous, and it is wonderful that you’ve been met with so much support and positive feelings. I had a coworker go through gender transition at work a few years back (in a previous job of mine), and in spite of some of us doing everything we could to make the workplace supportive, a few negative reactions from a few people made it miserable for my friend to stay there… and she hasn’t really worked a steady job since then. Thanks for being so open and sharing this experience… for many reasons, you are an inspiration to many people (myself included!), and it is good to read about positive experiences, but it is GREAT to read that you, Alex, are HAPPY! πŸ™‚

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  2. Sorry, slight nitpick: Tom Daley didn’t actually “come out as gay” or label himself at all. He just said that he’s now dating a man although he “still fancies girls”. Quite frankly, I too long for the day when these things won’t be worthy of public comment, but we’re not there yet. Not even close. (but you know this, I’m sure…)

    Anyway, I’m more of a lurker than a commenter, but I wanted to chime in and say all the best of luck on your journey. You sound so much happier and confident. I’m really really happy for you.

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  3. Several years ago a part-time colleague in a small company (of a few full time people) went through what you are contemplating – about being Alex at work – and we were able to appreciate that they were so right: no longer narcoleptic, and supported at home as well as being understood at work.
    I wish you all the best.

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  4. Alex,
    I personally will have no problem at all with you being Alex at work. I suspect you may be right to do some preparation – HR might be worth a visit. I want to say that I have a LOT of respect for trans folk. The amount of courage you have shown to do what you have done is amazing. You have my deepest respect and you will have my support.

    For your info there are a number of trans folk who attend ACCU that you might consider communicating with, so you are in good company. I can’t remember their names straight off but I can do some digging though my emails if you want.

    On the funnier side I always thought we had too many Bens at work πŸ™‚

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    1. Hi Charles. Thank you for your support. I’m planning to speak to HR as soon as L is back in the office.

      As for too many Bens… They’re outnumbered by Andrews, Ians and especially Davids!

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  5. That does seem like it would take a lot of courage. Glad you’re doing better. πŸ™‚

    I did some research and determined that I’m a feminine androgyne. It’s really uncomfortable being pressured to be “more like a guy”.

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    1. I really expected the worst when I came out and so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive reaction. It’s important for your own well-being to be honest about who you are and try to ignore the critics. If people are friends they will accept you for who you are.

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  6. Congratulations with coming out… ad great to hear that your wife is so supportive. This is a big surprise. Would you like to be called Alex online instead of Ben from now on, and be referred to as she instead of he?

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    1. Thank you Mados. Yes, I would prefer to be referred to as Alex and for people to use feminine pronouns online. That’s why I created this new profile.

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  7. I feel honored that you felt us safe enough to come out to, Alex. I’m thrilled that you’ve discovered who you are. πŸ™‚

    I see above that Mados already clarified pronouns. I’ll refer to you by “she” now.

    Best wishes for a smooth transition!

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  8. Wow, this is so amazing πŸ™‚ Congratulations on doing this, on being courageous and open and on getting such positive, accepting responses!
    I find it a bit strange, though, that your mother knew, chose not to talk about it with you, but did talk to your wife about it.
    But I am also really pleasantly surprised that your relationship situation has improved so much.
    This is really so great πŸ˜€

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    1. Thank you very much Petra. I think if my mother had tried to raise the subject with me I’d have denied it all. But some subjects just weren’t talked about at home, especially anything relating to sexual or gender matters.

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      1. Well, I understand that people don’t discuss it at all. I mean, I was never even explained about having a period. That’s why I’m surprised she did discuss it with your wife. Ah well, people.

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  9. I have been pretty wrapped up in my own life for the last couple weeks, and I’m sad to say I am just now getting caught up on my blogroll, and only this morning seeing this post!

    So I know I’m a little late to the party, but I just want to tell you that I am so incredibly happy for you. You deserve this so much. You deserve to know yourself and be exactly who you are. AND you deserve the unconditional love and support of your family, your wife, your friends, and the online community that you have become such an important part of.

    This post sounds so much more positive and full of life and hope than some of your other posts this fall have been. I sincerely hope this brings you joy. I really think it will. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you very much Nattily. It’s true that I am feeling so much happier and more positive since coming out as transsexual. And I have received so much support from my wife and friends, both RL and online. πŸ˜€

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  10. Hi Alex,

    I discovered your blog after reading your Actual Point post on Notes on Crazy. I just want to say that I’m really happy for you that you’re accepting and becoming your true self, and that you have so much support. I really admire your fortitude and courage. You’re just as much of a woman as me, or any other woman who was born with a female body. And you deserve to be happy and be loved for who you are. I hope your transition goes smoothly!

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    1. Thank you so much. I feel touched by your words of acceptance and support: I’m nearly crying! You and others are giving me strength.

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  11. Glad to know your friends and family are so supportive. That was not my experience. Losing friends because of transitioning makes it harder to stick with it and to believe it really is the right thing to do. It is already plenty hard enough on its own.

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    1. My wife and friends have been so important. Yes, there are a few who can’t accept me as a woman, but this change is so necessary to me that it doesn’t hurt or make me doubt that what I’m doing is right for me.

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      1. Sorry. I do not type so well. I only meant for me it causes doubt. You sound so confident and sure of yourself, did not mean to suggest it would for you too. The necessity of transition has not made it any easier for me, just makes the conflict hurt that much more. I do what I must to survive and no one is happy with me for it. That is why it is nice to read about others like you who have such supportive family and friends.

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  12. I haven’t been checking my WordPress until now and I only just read your post! I’m so happy that this was a positive experience for you and that your friends and family have been so supportive! πŸ™‚ Yay!

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  13. Hi Alex, I’m soooooooo happy I started going through your past posts. I did not see this before. I’m thrilled for you being able to finally being able to just be yourself. Hiding something like that is just far too difficult. I hid that I was bisexual for years and my first husband didn’t handle it well. My second husband, the man I’m married to now is wonderful and loving and so accepting of me. I am happy your wife and you are getting along much better and that she is as supportive as she is. I know people this did not go well for when they came out but the fact that you have so much support and people are accepting of you is incredible and wonderful and is exactly as it should be. I don’t understand people who get nervous or angered or offended by such things. First of all, it’s not their lives, and second of all, how is someone embracing who they are a bad thing? I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I started going further down your blog and the results of you coming out were positive. I held my breath waiting to see what you’d written.

    My husband says it’s incredible and wonderful to him that I am able to see beauty and love people and that gender doesn’t matter. When I came out to him, just before we actually started dating, I thought that would be it, we’d never even get the chance. I was very happily surprised that he is so open minded, loving and accepting. It’s actually the main reason I fell in love with him. When I came as Autistic to him (it was sort of like that for me) I was afraid again, but my wonderful husband being who is totally accepted that part of me too. I get nervous people will not accept me being bisexual and Autistic. But you know what, I’m sick of hiding too. I actually wrote about it a few weeks ago, I think, and came out on Take a Left at the Moon. If people don’t like that, then they don’t have to be around me.

    I cannot tell you how happy I am for you. I am smiling ear to ear and feeling a lot of joy for you. I hope your transition goes very well and smoothly. I’m sending you mucho lots of love and support and best wishes, Bird

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    1. It’s wonderful to have people who accept you unconditionally for just who you are, and it is so important to love and to be loved in return. Thank you so much for your friendship, support, and love. Best wishes to you in return, Alex.

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  14. I wish you all the luck in the world. I’m very happy for you that you are finally getting comfortable and sharing who you truly are.

    FYI. I found your blog through a repost from Lynne Soraya on Facebook. I’m glad I found it. πŸ™‚

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