ELLIOT 2007: Me Me Me. Sometimes even discussing my own identity creates boundaries and constraints that I am not entirely comfortable with. One of the ways we figure “things” out is to give it a name but I think that I have the tendency to name things first to see if it fits and then I find inconsistencies and untruths, and the name is no longer appropriate. Queer is probably the most suitable name for my identity because it allows for fluidity, but even Queer has it’s expectations and associations that I don’t feel represent me.
ELLIOT 2011: This is me a few months after top surgery; the world had just been cracked open in my hands. I refused to fully embrace any one particular identity, feeling as though language didn’t adequately encompass how I felt about myself in the world. At the same time, I wanted very much to pass as male. I was living in my Dad’s basement in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio with no intentions of leaving when I went to visit an old friend in NYC. Two weeks later I was living in Brooklyn, trying to navigate my evolving identity in a brand new city.
I became what I called “selectively stealth” meaning that only a handful of people knew for sure that I was trans. (NOTE: this mode of living is only useful when you intend on being pushed out of the closet.) For me, there was no gray area in executing a stealth identity. Over the last four years, I’ve been out-ed enough times to become comfortable with my story, and the conversation about whom I “used to be.”
Most recently I came out to my co-workers at my new job. Some of them needed convincing of my story so I pulled my shirt over my head and showed them my scars. I tell people “I don’t walk around with a stamp on my forehead, but I am open about my identity and happy to have appropriate discussions.”
I am blessed with a solid community of trans and queer identified friends and the recent passage of gay marriage in NY gives me hope that we can soon pass ENDA to include gender identity.