I’m sure most dykes have experience with feeling like their mere existence is a “dirty little secret.” When I look back through the past couple decades I can see a lot of these instances for myself. It always seemed that someone needed to be kept in the dark about my relationship with a woman, and sometimes it needed to be kept quiet that we knew each other at all. For a long time I liked to pretend that these types of things didn’t bother me, but now I’m sifting through them and letting myself acknowledge the pain and hurt.
I was out young – I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I was a very visible young dyke. The few lesbian acquaintances who confided in me when I was very young were generally not quite so easily identified, and there was always an obvious fear that should anyone connect us their secret would be out. Later, when I had my first few girlfriends, we never told either of our parents and had to keep it a secret and sneak around all the time. I’ve fooled around with “straight” girls who didn’t want anyone at all to know about us, ever. I’ve even dated a woman in my adult life who was not out to her parents, and not only never told them about our relationship over the course of two years and living together, but also kept my entire existence a secret because I was too obvious while bringing our extremely campy gay male friend to family gatherings and leaving me to sit home alone through multiple holidays.
I don’t know why I’ve continually put myself through this.
I’m only really just starting to unravel how deep seated I have it that a relationship with me is something to be hidden.
Even when I was a teenager, and out to my parents, they would tell me that they loved me no matter what and that they recognized that it wasn’t a choice, but then would plead with me to not be so obvious. They would implore me to keep my hair long, as if that would’ve made me look less awkward than I already did with my athletic structure under one of the very few dresses I’ve ever worn. They wanted me to keep free of romantic attachments with any other girls and I was terrified to bring any female friends home who might read as gay, lest our friendship be forced to break off (and I am speaking of strictly platonic friends, here). My dad sometimes told me of how difficult life is for someone who is so obviously gay, who sticks out so clearly. He said these things to me as if I didn’t already know and as if I had a choice other than to try to embrace it. I stuck out no matter what I did.
I can now recognize wanting to escape this othering as an appealing factor of transition for me, but I didn’t see it in nearly the same way then as I do now. I know that I saw it then, as well, but I related the sense of “othering” and being so obviously different in this seemingly shameful way as being a symptom of my transsexuality rather than a causative factor in my male identification. By the time I started calling myself male, I had already figured that there was something bodily different about myself from females that was somehow proof of my body leaning “towards male.” Therefore these physical, inescapable differences that made me so obvious were just symptoms, further clues that my self-diagnosis was spot on.