Disclosure: When, Where, Why, and How

If any of you follow my Tumblr log you’ll know that I posted a FML post about a woman who’s husband didn’t disclose his trans history until after the wedding.  If you don’t follow the Tumblr log, but have read the last post in here you’ll know that I’m having some issues with an intense crush on a guy I know.  If you somehow got here via Google or whatever else…well, you can probably imagine that telling people about being trans isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Now, this is a very contentious issue within the trans community.  Everyone has their own opinion on disclosure.  These are my methods and why I use them.  Don’t assume that everyone feels the same way.  In fact, assume that no one feels the same way.  It’s easier.

When:  This is always the trickiest part for me.  I prefer to disclose before things get sexual, but after I’m at least 80% sure that it’s likely to happen soon.  In my case this generally means even before serious make out sessions, I prefer to be safe rather than sorry.  Finding the right balance is close to impossible, most of the time I just go on gut instinct.  It becomes doubly hard because I’m not into casual sex.  Other transguys hook up in clubs, bars, or online, but I have this thing where I need to know someone before I’m comfortable showing them my bits.  So I end up having to weigh whether or not I’m willing to lose the person I disclose to as a friend as well as a potential sex partner.  It’s…frustrating, to say the least.

Where: Because I only disclose to people I already have a relatively good relationship with and always before things get heated I feel perfectly safe disclosing in a private place.  Sometimes this means my place, sometime theirs, it really depends.  I try to avoid disclosure in public areas just because I’m hyper paranoid about someone overhearing (the local gay community is rather incestuous), but in most cases public is safer.

How: Slowly and carefully.  Sometimes I pull out the scrapbooks (family of photographers), others…well, let’s just say I’m pretty well known for speaking before I think.  Often I start online with vague chats about transpeople in the news to see if I can gauge their general understanding of the subject.  A couple of times I’ve gotten lucky and they’ve known a transguy already so I’m pretty well set.  Most of the time their closest understanding of trans issues has to do with liking a particular drag queen.  Either way, if I can get the initial “this is what a transman is” conversation out of the way first things tend to go over better.  At the very least, they know what the hell I’m talking about.

I’ve yet to determine a perfect way of telling people.  For one thing, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the intense fear that builds up as I wait for the right setting.  If at some point I find that one thing works better than others, that’ll be awesome and I’ll post about it.  For now I mostly stutter my way through and hope for the best.

Why: Ah, the big one.  Why do I disclose so early?  Why do I disclose at all?  Well, I don’t have a penis.  I don’t care how much transmen try to say that a T enlarged clitoris is like a mini-penis, when it comes to expectations of what your boyfriend has below the waist that simply does not cut it.  Not disclosing is a damned good way to get myself killed.  This is something transwomen have to worry about far more than transmen, but I’m not willing to put myself at risk like that either way.

Yes, people should be accepting.  No, it probably shouldn’t matter.  Yes, it is wrong for someone to kill a sexual partner for being trans (or any other reason, to be honest).  However, this is not a perfect world.  People fuck up.  People get upset.  People do things they wouldn’t otherwise even consider.  Using the “but they’d be in the wrong” excuse as a reason to not disclose is stupid, immature, and not going to help you once your head has been bashed in.  This is not a situation where I’m interested in making a political point, it is a situation where I just want to be sure I get out with minimal damage (both physically and emotionally).

I also believe that it’s just fair.  When you enter a sexual relationship with someone there are certain expectations.  These expectations differ based on the situation, but there are expectations.  In my case one of the expectations is a penis.  Most of the time another expectation is that I’ll top.  My being trans drastically changes the realities of these expectations.  Whatever partner I have has a right to know and accept that sex/a relationship with me is going to be different from what they were expecting.  I’d expect the same respect in return, if I pull down their pants and find out that they’re trans too I’m going to be pretty annoyed.  Not necessarily because I don’t like transmen (though I have a difficult time finding any I connect with on a personal level), but because I was expecting a penis and would like to be able to consent to any changes in that plan.

In my case there’s the added problem of needing to know someone before getting naked with them.  If I’m having sex with someone there’s a decent chance I’m already pretty emotionally invested.  This is part of why I prefer to tell sooner rather than later.  Once I’ve made out with you and gotten to a point where I’m used to being physical it becomes more and more difficult for me to handle the loss if you’re not ok with the trans issue.  I’d rather disclose early and avoid the pain that comes with waiting too long.  The earlier I disclose the more likely I am to be able to handle a friendship, once I get past a certain point that option simply becomes to emotionally distressing.

Again, all of this is just my personal views on the subject.  Different people have different opinions.  I don’t agree with all of those opinions, but not everyone agrees with mine either.

2 Replies to “Disclosure: When, Where, Why, and How”

  1. I think the actual realization that I was trans happened while I was developing a relationship with my current girlfriend. Now? She’s my biggest supporter, and I’m grateful.

    It seems like the right choice to tell someone early on. It could save a worse pain in the end, you know? And you’re right. No one should be killed by a boyfriend/girlfriend for being trans (or for any other reason.)

    I hope things go well for you!

    • Hey David, welcome to the blog!

      That’s great that your girlfriend is so accepting. I’ve heard more than a few horror stories about girl/boyfriends freaking when someone comes out so it’s always nice to hear the other side of things.

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