One of the least expected – and most rewarding – aspects of my transition has been the merging of the various groups of friends and acquaintances in my life. In the closet I was never able to be myself. So instead the person I presented to the world varied as I moved from situation to situation. At the extremes you might even say I appeared to be a completely different person when I moved between distinct groups. I came to think of these different groups which called for distinct portrayals of myself as my “circles.”
I defined my persona within these various circles in an unintentionally reactionary way. I never had any belief that I could simply be myself within any of them. So I adapted myself to “fit in” in a way I deemed appropriate for each one.
It wasn’t done by wholesale fabrication. Only on rare occasions (mostly when it came to things striking too close to a transgender topic) did I ever pretend something that wasn’t true to some aspect of my real identity. It was more about overplaying things that seemed to play well within a particular group, and underplaying or completely concealing the things that may not play well. I’d be a passionate partisan politico in one circle, and completely agnostic and non-political in another. I’d be passionate about theater and the arts in one circle, and I’d never make the least mention of it in another. And of course I never let on any interest in topics that seemed too loaded with a cross gendered identity (e.g. women’s fashion).
Over time this resulted in a near phobia about people from one of my circles meeting people from a different circle. The “person” I pretended to be within one circle might not be accepted at all by another. So those from different circles must never be given an opportunity to compare notes about me. Sounds silly, I know. But it was never really a well thought out thing. More like an instinctual fear built by layers upon layers of reaction to different social situations over time.
Through transition all this pretense caught up with me. The greatest secret aspect of myself – the part I wanted to conceal most of all – was about to become very public and unconcealable within every circle in my life.
My choice at that point was to either cut all ties to all the various circles or… stop pretending.
I chose the latter, and I’m very glad that I did. But I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision to make. I have been tempted constantly to disappear from the radar of one of my former social circles rather than show them the real me. But then I would never have encountered a level of sympathy and compassion I never realized was possible. This has been all the more wonderful for having been so genuinely unexpected.
And so, last night, I merged the circles about as thoroughly as is possible in a single move. I came out to every contact on Facebook, from old high school friends, to working relations and everything in between. I updated my name to Diana, sent a brief statement explaining things to all those who didn’t already know (and many who already did) and… well then it was done. I expected to see a bunch of friends dropping off the list almost immediately. Instead I received a bunch of supportive responses from people I never would have guessed might react so well.
So now I no longer need to be a different person based on the circle I’m within. Now I’m just me. I may not always be liked, but I won’t let that change my identity any longer. Let my various circles meet, merge, and mingle all they like. I no longer have anything to fear by it.