This post is the 20th in a series.
I did quite a bit of journaling through the time when I was coming to recognize my reality. I would like to share some of these entries with you as a window into what it means to come out. Please come back to read through the rest of the journey. If you haven’t read the first, you can click here to be redirected to that post, called Truth. From there, at the bottom of each post you can navigate to the next.
Today I came out to my supervisor and my director. I have been undecided about timing of this conversation and only a few days ago realized why. I want to have all the answers to everything, know everything about myself as it will be from this day onwards. I don’t want to feel like, after going through this once, I might have to do it again if something changes. So I’ve been hesitant to commit. But I had a conversation with Barry a few days ago about pronouns. I have not wanted to ask people to do the work of changing how they refer to me. That’s part of it. Another part is that I haven’t had a chance for family to try it out and have me hear it. People don’t tend to talk about adults in the third person when they’re present! But talking it out, I realized that it makes me comfortable and happy to have people talk about me as a person rather than a woman, so for me it follows that having people change from she and her to they and them would also make me comfortable and happy. I sat with that for a couple of days and it still felt good.
Then my director messaged me to ask which cohort I want to be in when it comes to going back to the office. Our unit will be divided into three groups. Group one will go back to the office in July, group two in August and group three in September. I told her I want to be in group three. She said she already has all the people for group three and could I explain why I wanted that. Thank you, God, for this person who is new to this role, but who I know from other work. I trust her. I answered that I needed a day to be prepared for the conversation, but that it is a good reason.
So, today I met (via video chat) with her and my direct supervisor, whom I also respect and trust. I told them about being non-binary, that I would look different next time we met, as I was getting a haircut and a whole new wardrobe, that I would like people to use they/them pronouns for me, and I asked permission to begin using lower case letters for my email signature and other official documents. (I have used lower case letters for myself since college when someone thought it would be fun to assign eight Heathers to one residence floor. I started using lower case so I could distinguish myself from all the others.) I explained that I wanted to be in group three so that I could get comfortable with my new presentation before being in the office with others. They were both very supportive and encouraging and thanked me for trusting them. They assured me that although neither of them has walked this road before and may make mistakes, they will be because of ignorance not malice. I believe them. My director sent me an email shortly after we ended our meeting, and used a lower case h for the greeting. Seeing “heather” right there from someone else brought me to tears. I’m still somewhat terrified to ask people to do things for my comfort and well-being. I’m terrified to put myself out there as someone other than the expected norm. I’m terrified to make such a public and dramatic change. But that “heather” at the top of that email assured me it was worth it. That’s me, heather holtslander, non-binary person.