I have to tell you that when I was contemplating telling people about my transition I was terrified. I wasn't sure what anyone's reaction would be. I was afraid of being rejected again, and I will explain that in a moment.
I am not really a jealous person but I must say that there are two people in this word of whom I am really jealous. Each of them has a best friend, someone who has known them for their whole lives who has grown up with them, experienced heartache and joy with them. They have a close relationship with someone else on this planet who isn't their lover, or sibling, or obligated to them in any way. They chose each other.
When I was doing research for one of my art projects about HIV and AIDS, I remember reading an interview with photographer Nan Goldin. She lost many of her friends to the disease and spoke about how with their deaths there was a loss and terrible grief. Not only were her friends stories disappearing but when they died they took a part of her with them. With every friend she lost, a piece of her history stored in their memories disappeared. She said something about how if all her friends died there would be no one left that knew her, no one left that would know her story and that her history would be buried with their bodies.
That is sort of how I feel and why I was afraid to tell my friends about transitioning. I have cultivated few real friendships in my life. Many have been cut short by circumstances beyond the control of a child. Most of my best friends from childhood or school were lost in moves. When we moved after my parents divorce I started over; when their parents scattered across the country my friends from school disappeared one by one. After high school many of us went our separate ways promising to keep in touch but not ever really committing to it. The one friend I still had after high school "cut the strings" after I came out of the closet, Merry Christmas, please don't call me again.
So here I am at 35 with no one who really knows me. No long time buddy who knows my story. There is no one that remembers that nine year old kid in rugby pants with the masking tape haircut. No one who knows the horror of the ten-year-old's first perm, the disappointment of the six-year-old who had to take figure skating instead of hockey, the sixteen year old who had an awful recurring wet dream about her schoolmate. I have no history except what I remember. I have no single friend who could tell my story from beginning to end, no one who has been there for all the good and all the bad.
Because I have had no one choose to stick it out with me I am a little afraid of new people. They scare me. They are unpredictable and strange. Now I feel even more isolated because any new friends I make will have to be told the truth and that makes me vulnerable to hate, hurt, misunderstanding and even violence. How long do you wait before you tell someone you're a tranny anyway? 2 weeks? 2 months? 6 months? 3 years? When does not telling them become lying?
I do have to say though, that I must be doing something right. The friends I have chosen have shown me a great amount of support and love. They ask questions that make them uncomfortable in an effort to understand, to by sympathetic. Sure there is a lot of talk amongst them speculating, questioning, wondering with each other but they have never made me feel awkward or insecure or shameful. I have been pleasantly surprised by my friends I have to say. The support they have given me when I most needed it is incredible. The encouragement from my friends to follow my heart and become the spirit I need to be has sincerely made my decision easier. It has made my fear wane and my courage grow. And being surrounded by people who are open-minded, accepting, caring, loving, supportive, and sympathetic makes me see I was a bit of a coward; as it turned out all I had to do was give them the opportunity to show me how much they care.