My Story: Out & Proud - Trans Awareness Week (13.11.-19.11.2021)
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
For years and years I did not think about why I feel the way I feel. I felt like I don’t fit in with women and that I am not girly enough. Female role and female body didn’t feel good, but I didn’t know why. I had no idea that there is something that can be done in this respect. Two years before coming out, I was considering ending my misery. In that time a friend of mine helped me through my crisis – I found a psychiatrist, started medication (antidepressants), started therapy and life went on.
Something had however changed in my life. I started to live on my own terms, not anybody else’s. Until that moment I lived my life according to the expectations of my parents and my surroundings. I was adjusting myself as per the stereotypical feedbacks of others. Slowly, I started changing the way I look, the way I dress and the way I behave. It felt good to come to work with my head shaved. The morning routine decreased to minimum. I no longer had to spend time painting on a stranger’s face on my own. Clothes dressed me and not the actor which played the main role in the life which was supposed to me mine. I stopped caring what others think or what they want from me. I started to get to know who I really was.
After several months in therapy, my therapist suggested an exercise. She put a baby girl doll in my hands and she wanted me to hold its hands and talk to it like the doll is me and I am a person trying to help that little girl. That was the first time I cried during therapy and let me tell you – I hate crying in public. My therapist suggested to buy a doll and do the „caring exercise“ regularly at home. The doll was supposed to represent me and was supposed to teach me to be good to myself and to take care of my mental well-being. After couple of months my therapist asked me how it is going with the doll and I toll her that it’s not going well. I was not able to connect to the baby girl doll I bought.
"If I want to help myself to get better, I have to let that boy (me) breathe."
I explained her that when I was standing in the toy store looking for a doll to buy, I was holding a boy doll in my hands, but I was scared to buy the boy doll because I would not know how to explain that my inner child is a boy when I was born a female. She was absolutely amazing, she said she thinks she knows what it means and encouraged me to buy a boy doll. She wanted me to see if I connect with the boy. And I did. I did find a way to myself and I did connect with the boy (in me). That was my very first coming out, where with the help of my therapist I realized that if I want to help myself to get better, I have to let that boy (me) breathe.
After more than half year, I decided to come out to my parents and my friends. I was worried about how my parents will react as they are Catholics. I was positively surprised. My dad immediately started addressing me with my new name and male pronouns and calling me his son. To this day, every time he calls me his son I am moved to tears. I thought they will reject me and I will lose them, but my parents now have two sons and they love them both. My mom needed a week to process the news. The icebreaker happened to be a phone call on which she asked me how she should address me. She always called me „squirrel“ in Hungarian language. I told her that nothing has changed, I am still that squirrel. Just that squirrel has now a new name – Bennett. My friends were all amazing. Some of them had a clue about my identity or they perceived me as a guy long time before. My psychiatrist also told me that she is not surprised. She fully accepted my identity when I came out to her. She never had an experience with a transgender patient, but now because of me she is learning about transitioning. She very kindly accepted to be the doctor which leads my medical transition.
"It’s important to understand that not only transgender people have a preferred name and preferred pronouns. Pronouns matter. They matter to everyone."
Few weeks after I came out to my family and friends, I came out in work which I had at that time. The experience was bittersweet. My manager told me that I cannot force people to address me with my preferred name because I legally don’t have that name. She suggested that I better legally change my name. My request to have an email address reflecting my preferred name was rejected by HR even though the law doesn’t prohibit it.
It’s important to understand that not only transgender people have a preferred name and preferred pronouns. If a guy named Michael wants to be addressed as Mike, we address him as Mike. We don’t force him to legally change his name to “Mike” before we do so. Mike wants to be referred to as he/him, as he is a (cisgender) man. If people started addressing him incorrectly, he would probably be hurt and felt disrespected. The same goes for transgender people. If you address them in a way they don’t want to be addressed, it shows disrespect. Pronouns matter. They matter to everyone.
My life is balanced in a way that after each major negative experience life itself blesses me with a major positive experience. That came with my current job. I am out and proud. I am blessed to be surrounded by managers and colleagues which are inclusive and supportive. It feels good to be able to be myself and be respected for the experience, skills and talents that I bring to the table.