Coming Out Day Reflections
Jennifer (Ray) Angelina Petro
If you didn’t already know—I’m trans, and every time I leave the Treehouse automatically makes the day, no matter what day it is, for better or for worse, Coming Out Day.
There are still private, and little/big moments, when I look at myself in the mirror, and for better or for worse, realize all over again that I’m trans, and there is nothing whatsoever I can do about that even if I wanted to. And that can bring a wild, almost feral joy. It can also bring the oppressive sense of being trapped in a life I did not choose.
There are times when I think back to my initial coming out, and how it smashed my world all to hell, and I regret it–in the sense of wishing it didn’t have to happen. And yet, the truth was/is that I couldn’t NOT come out. When you’re born you’re born, the rest of the world be damned.
I have learned over these past 5 years that my being trans–in my particular case–and, for better or for worse, is only a beginning to the discovering/uncovering of who I am, and there isn’t a finish line to this journey, and the journey is wondrous, terrifying, full of laughter, full of loss, full of gain, full of joy, full of anger, full of shame, full of power, full of gratitude, full of healing and pain, full of possibilities and opportunities, full on the kind of emptiness that is crucial to being a vessel for authenticity and for good.
Coming out, for me, was really more of a coming down–as in descending, incarnating into my body for the first time. It was the embodiment of fire in wood. It was also more of a coming up, as in the cicada nymph having no choice but to allow the light to draw it skyward. And magically, it was also a certain kind of coming in. As the revelation of who I was blossomed into the world, its roots found soil in my heart, and my own self-compassion turned inwards to treasure and protect the truth of me in ways neither you or I will ever fully know.
Coming out was also the acceptance of how powerful I am, how resilient. It was embracing that being a shapeshifter is holy. It was honoring and feeding a ferocity that for too long lay hidden, afraid, and directionless. It was accepting that coming out later in life, for better or for worse, makes me an elder, a crone, a warrior who will fight for the young with my new found claws and teeth.
Coming out has also made my life far more threatening to those around me than it was when I thought I was a cis male. Surrendering male privilege in this society threatens people in strange, outlandish, and very real, dangerous ways.
Know this: if my coming out was a choice I may have very well not come out. I am not that brave, but I have to be now.
My coming out, however, wasn’t a choice. It was, as mentioned above, the giving birth to myself; it was Joseph midwifing me into the world.
The only thing I can control now is how I outwardly present who I am, and how I choose to use the new-found power that lives within me. And sometimes choosing to hide is the wisest, bravest thing I can do.
And even as my wings continue to grow and there are times I can spread them, like an angel, I am very conscious that the more I fly, the more I soar, like a hawk searching for those that would harm the fledglings– the more vulnerable I am to violence, hate, discrimination, and marginalization.
So, while Coming Out Day can be a day of celebration, it can also be a day of reckoning; a day where one’s destiny suddenly unfolds before them, like an unstoppable river. And this can bring joyous freedom and excitement, and it can also bring churning fear of what might happen next. It can also bring a deep sense of inner crisis, isolation, and the need to hunker down for a bit to grow into the truth.
Know this, my blessed allies–Coming Out Day is a very big day indeed with repercussions that will be felt the rest of our lives, and so, we need you. Please continue to make this world safer and safer for people like me and to the young ones coming after. I know you will, because you too, are brave. Please also continue to make the world safer for older trans people like me to come out later in life.
And remember all of you seasoned, professional queers–remember what Coming Out Day was for you, and never forget how scary it can be. Protect each other. Celebrate each other. Remove the gates so gatekeepers have nothing else to do but turn away and grow into better people.
So, there it is. It’s Coming Out Day. I am a transgender woman who presents somewhat non-binary, and uses she/her pronouns. I am, every day, newly born, and, for better or for worse, I am not going anywhere.