My Coming Out Story

This story is definitely a very personal one. I don’t remember the exact date or time this happened anymore. I know it was a week before some spring semester, so it must have been mid January. What may seem odd to many readers, the majority of the important stuff that night happened completely online.

I should briefly explain why such an emotional, important moment took place in a game. When I was younger, I had a very hard time connecting to people. I made a few friends (many of whom turned out to be gay or queer later in life), but most of the people I hung out with were my brother’s friends. I developed relationships with many of them in time, and I consider them my friends now, but they were almost always my brother’s friends first. However, I had an incredibly rich social life online.

In online chatrooms and games like World of Warcraft, I was Ashley. In most cases, I never told people that I was actually a “boy” sitting at the keyboard. Over the years I did get really, really close to several people, to the point I considered myself in a relationship with them. Of course, the rules with online relationships are different. Despite being desperately in love then, I know now that actual love is different than what I felt then. The relationships I had then were important, but they are not nearly the same as the two I’ve had face to face. I’d really like to make a post about online relationships and how the internet can be used to explore gender identity… but not tonight, for sure.

When I was in an online relationship for long enough, eventually it would come out that I was a “boy” at the other end of the keyboard. These were some of the very few times I really, openly cried before hormones. I was always ashamed when the “secret” got out. I didn’t know how to explain myself. How do you tell someone you’ve formed a bond with every night for half a year, you feel like a girl, but you’re a boy? I had no words, no vocabulary to use, to describe what I was. Over the years, I started to learn the words though. In an Anthropology course, I was told about the Two-Spirit, a third (or sometimes forth, or fifth) gender in many Native American cultures. I’d love to go into huge detail about Two Spirit, but that will also wait for another night. After that class, I did a ton of research online and eventually found the term “transgender.” I knew, at once, this was a fit. Still, I put it off, I didn’t want to adopt the label. I thought I must just be gay.. but the thought of being with “another” guy was gross to me. I thought I was homophobic for a long time. Now I realize, I prefer girls, and I am a girl, so of course gay sex isn’t at all appealing to me.

A few months after I discovered the term transgender, I was still struggling to figure out how to apply it to my life. I didn’t really accept that I was transgender, but I knew I wasn’t not-transgender (as grammatically incorrect as that is). I had been with someone online for almost a year. At first, we were very close – she came into my life at a very vulnerable time, and we became very close friends very quickly. We talked at least 3-5 days a week for several months. However, as time went on, I began to feel more and more strongly about her. And that meant I began to feel more and more guilty as well for not telling her the secret. She only knew me as Ashley. I never told her anything else. She began to press me more and more about talking to her on the phone or over ventrillo, but I always refused or made up some excuse. This began to drive us apart, and towards the end of the year, we were not nearly as close.

This all came to a boiling point one night in mid January. She and I got into something of an argument – I don’t quite remember exactly what it was. My long term memory isn’t always that reliable. I knew that night, that if I didn’t tell her the truth, that I was a “boy,” I would lose her, a person I cared about so much for over a year (which is a very long time for an online relationship). She knew I was hiding something, and she pushed me to finally tell her. With my eyes shut tight and tears rolling down my cheeks, I typed something like “I’m a boy in real life, but I’m not really. I’m a girl. I think I am trasngender or two spirit or something.” I forget her words, but I remember her immediate acceptance, understanding, and caring. She asked one last time for my phone number and I finally agreed. And then it happened, for the first time in my life, I answered the phone and heard someone I loved and cared for ask: “Ashley?” I don’t think I was even able to form a sentence. She responded quickly, telling me she knew I was smiling, she could tell from the tone of my voice, from knowing me for a year, even if it was online. She knew I was blushing too, given that she knew me for so long. It was one of the sweetest phonecalls I’ve ever heard. And it was also the turning point for me, the day I took on the label of transgender.

From that moment on, I knew I was transgender. I struggled with the exact definition for a long time. It was more than two and a half years later that I accepted I was actually transsexual. I doubted that for a long time, but I finally reached the place I am at now. Many of you might see this story as a bit odd, to be in love with someone you’ve never seen. Its not always the same for both people; we both loved each other, but I knew all along I saw our relationship as more than she did. Still, online was the one place I was able to explore and experiment with being a girl long before my body got to the place I could do so in person. Make sure to check back in soon, as I am really excited to post about some of the topics I glossed over here.

As something of a PS, since I don’t know where to fit it, I need to take this space to just quickly talk about the person I was with then. I didn’t know till later, but she was an active leader in her GSA before me and had dealt with many trans people. She knew I was transgender for months before I told her. There was not a moment of hesitation in he acceptance. Over the next few months, she pushed me so hard to make progress. She got me to go to my first ever Allies meeting, which was the start of one of the hugest changes in my life. She and I went through a long period of separation, but whenever I needed someone to kick my butt a little and help me get on the right track, she was always there. To this person, if you read it, thank you so much for that night, for that time. Your acceptance, understanding, and love inspired me to pursue being a leader like you were; I wouldn’t have gotten to Allies if not for you. Thank you.

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1 Comment

  1. WoW was also important in my development. I even took my name from it!


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