Yesterday I went to a nerdy convention we have in my country each year. It’s a ton of fun to be around people geeking out about everything, seeing kickass cosplay, and buying random nerdy gewgaws. Quick aside, how cool is it that ‘gewgaw’ was a word I already knew and didn’t have to find in a synonym dictionary? Oh, not that cool or interesting? Nevermind, sorry.
Anyways. I’ve been going to this con every year for the past five years except for last year, since I was too overwhelmed with the stress and loneliness of coming out. It was a pretty tough year, honestly. I mean sure, I felt happier than I ever had before, but my life pre-transition had set the bar for happiness very, very near the ground. It really didn’t take much to improve on it.
I was met with a surprising amount of support and acceptance from a large part of my family, but it wasn’t universal. A few family members closest to me, as well as all but one of my friends, had trouble accepting me as Lili. Sure, they seemed to want me to be in their lives, but they were also clearly reluctant to see me as myself. It was a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ situation.
Having grown up nearly completely alone, I’ve developed a weakness for friendship. Even as I’ve developed self-respect and self-love, I still find it difficult to tell people to get out of my life if they can’t treat me with the respect I deserve. Sure, I’ve gotten better, but not near good enough. Which is why I just kept quiet and sucked it up as people I cared about continued to call me by my dead name, and didn’t try to fix the pronouns they used around me. With time that morphed into me keeping quiet and trying to suck it up as most of my friends and family stopped using any gender pronouns or any name for me.
I’m still not sure whether they thought I wouldn’t notice, or whether they just didn’t care what I thought of it. The truth is that it was nearly as bad as constantly being misgendered was. It’s so humiliating and dehumanising to hear people refer to you almost like a thing, unworthy of being called by name. You can see why I felt so awful last year. I had to stand up to society, but I only really had one close friend covering my back.
But enough dwelling on the past; back to the convention. I went yesterday, and really enjoyed myself. It wasn’t as good as it’s been in previous years, but I had a good time enjoying some good cosplay, and buying random nerdy items. Last time I’d gone I had bought a Pokémon plush toy, so I dedicated most of the day to finding the most worthy Pokémon at the sale to take home with me. While I was looking for it, I saw someone selling a hat exactly like the one Ash wore in the first couple of seasons of Pokémon.
I obviously bought it, and I think this picture I took right afterwards says more than enough about how happy I felt about it:
I uploaded a picture of me geeking out with the hat to facebook, and started to get nice comments from a lot of the friends I’ve made in the past year. I still don’t know how to respond to compliments so I mostly just left awkward thanks and smiled a lot as I read their nice comments.
Then I got to a couple of nice comments left by friends I knew before coming out. The comments weren’t as, let’s say ‘expressive’ in how they complimented me as some of the others, but I still got a huge grin on my face seeing them say I looked cute.
To really understand how I felt reading those comments, think of what it was like for me to come out. I often felt like I had to choose between feeling loved and respected, and leaving behind everyone who I’d known before coming out. I’ve literally had to make that choice over and over with several friendships. There are people I’ve spoken about 10 words to in the last 6 months. Others I’ve only seen once or twice in the past year. I let myself grow distant from them because I couldn’t bear being referred to as a nameless thing anymore.
Then there are others who just abandoned me. I had a friend I felt a lot of affection for who met up with me twice after I came out, and then disappeared. About three months after I came out I messaged him to see if he wanted to meet up; he still hasn’t answered the message. I’ve also written on here about my childhood best friend, who I haven’t heard a word from since I started transitioning. I had other friends tell me I was a stranger to them now, and that they felt nothing for Lili. Not hatred, but no love either. I was like a complete stranger to them.
With the exception of my current best friend, I had to let go of everyone I cared about before coming out. I essentially drew a line around a part of my heart, and told myself to accept nothing inside it would continue to be a part of my life. It hurt like hell, of course. I wrote earlier that I have a weakness for friendship. Sure, I eventually gathered enough determination and self-respect to stop trying to hold on to people who didn’t love the real me, but it wasn’t easy.
All of this is to say that I’ve grown to expect indifference and complete rejection from those I knew before I was me. So when any of them does something to show love to the real me, whether it’s using my name and the right pronouns, or treating me like they would any other woman, or yes, making random nice comments on facebook about how I look, it’s both a shock and an absolute joy. It’s like seeing the first flower of spring break after a long winter… she said, having never lived in a place where there are seasons. But the first flower of spring is totally a thing, right?
Ha. If it isn’t, substitute it for a metaphor that makes sense.
The point is, I’m still smiling, and I feel hopeful about the future. The world is slowly changing, and I feel confident that in ten, twenty, thirty years other trans men and women will have an easier time of it and be met with less rejection.
That’s something to look forward to 🙂
Feel free to follow the group for the blog on facebook, we’re nearly at 200 likes! :O
Just click on the image below or the following link to go to the page:
oh, and if you’d like to see pictures from the convention I was at, you can find those here.