Tuesday, August 12, 2014

C is for Coming out of the Closet

Our last C word is Coming out of the Closet.  All members of society are assumed to be straight and cisgender.  Thus all gay, bi, and trans people must make a choice whether to come out of the closet and disclose this to the world.  The expression “coming out” started as a way to poke fun at the debutante balls where the debutantes have a coming out celebration when they are marriageable.  Obviously coming out should be voluntary, but in some cases people are accidentally or intentionally outed.  There is also the glass closet where everyone knows, but the individual in question has not made their status public.

In very recent times the expression “coming out” is used by many socially unpopular groups when a new member reveals themselves.  For example Wiccans and other pagans come out of the “broom closet.”  Polyamorous people, atheists, people into BDSM, and even alcoholics sometimes use the expression “coming out”  

Intersex people also have a closet, but it is somewhat more complicated.  We are not just revealing information about ourselves.  We are systematically closeted by the medical community, not ignorant social assumptions.  This ironic thing is, if we were left unaltered and allowed to live as a third sex, there would be no intersex closet to come out of.  

Because we are hidden, most of the world does not realize that intersex conditions are real.  You are revealing a status they have never heard of and may not believe is biologically possible.  Thus more explaining is often needed.  Coming out as intersex may also affect how others view your sexual orientation.  If people no longer see you as completely male or female, by extension they may not view your relationship as completely gay or straight.  There is also an odd thing that happens if you are born with ambiguous genitalia and relatives know about it.  They tend to ignore or willfully forget this, forcing the intersex person to come out with a status the person already knew (this happened to me).

No one should have to hide who they are.  Being closeted and fearful is no way to live.  Honestly most of these fears are unfounded.  When I came out I was amazed at the support I got from family and friends.  It was truly amazing.  Not everyone really understood, but they were still as supportive and understanding as they could be.  I even got invited to do some talks on the subject.  If anyone is questioning coming out, my advise is to go for it, you'll be much happier, I promise.

For the intersex community, to stay closeted is to accept our treatment as non-persons that socially do not exist.  To stay in the intersex closet is to live in fear, shame and hide the truth, this is tragic. What the intersex community needs most is exposure.  People need to realize we exist and are being treated horribly.  In that regard, coming out of the closet is probably one of the most important things you'll ever do.   

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