Mika Herman, Transgender, Queer, Transman
Sophomore, Political Science and Women's & Gender Studies
INVOLVEMENTS AT OU:
Member of Ally, Atkinson Complex Hall Council and Asterisk (Athens Area Trans* Advocates)
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE OUT?:
Being out is a privilege--it's not something emotionally or physically safe for everyone. On the other hand, some people are visibly queer and/or gender non-conforming and don't get the luxury of staying in the closet. But for many LGBT people coming out is an important exercise in self-value and courage. Coming out, for me, has allowed me to be honest with myself and others, and affirm my own identity as a queer transguy to the benefit of my emotional well-being.
WHY ARE YOU PROUD?:
I am proud that, even in the face of transphobia and homophobia, I continue to express myself honestly, fight through society in my non-normative body, and stand in solidarity with other LGBT people in their struggles. I am proud to be a part of queer and trans* culture and liberation.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ABOUT COMING OUT?:
When I came out as queer, I lost friends and my relationship with my parents became strained. I also felt pressured to fit my sexuality into a "gay/straight" box and leave it there--even though I am attracted to people of all genders. When I came out as trans*, my partner and I struggled with retaining our own identities and re-framing our relationship as a different kind of queer. I also had to educate my friends and family before I could even attempt to come out, which was emotionally draining--and even then, not everyone has been accepting.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WHO COME OUT?:
For people coming out as queer, trans* or both, don't feel pressured to follow some unwritten cultural timeline--only you can know if or when you want to come out. If you do choose to come out, try to do so when you are very affirming of yourself and in a stable place, as things might be rocky for a time. Stay within your comfort zone, because this is ultimately all about you. Realize that coming out is a process, and doesn't ever end, it just begins. Above all, be safe.
If you are trans*, I recommend coming out when you are accepting of yourself, have relatively low dysphoria, and are ready to expend a lot of energy educating people who may not want to learn at first. When I first came out to family and friends I came prepared with resources and the ability to explain terms and concepts related to my identity.
THOUGHTS FOR NON-LGBT PEOPLE ABOUT LGBT PEOPLE AND CONCERNS:
Remember that "ally" is a verb, not a stagnant title to claim for oneself. To ally is to stand in solidarity with LGBT people in their struggles, more than simply not being bigoted. If you want to stand in solidarity with us, remember the intersectionality of oppressions within LGBT communities, be mindful of your privileges, and listen to queer and trans* people before speaking about us.