Coming Out Stories 2020

National Coming Out Day/Week is a time for LGBTQIA+ people to come out and share their identities openly. 

Jasmine Martin, a graduate student and research assistant in mathematics.

(they/them/theirs)

First of all, I am 27 and happily married to my partner of seven-and-a-half years, with a 3-year-old and plans for more kids. I am completely 'out' at work, to all of my own family and to all-but-some of my partner's immediate family. I am panromantic, asexual and trans-nonbinary (getting top surgery this December). My pronouns are they/them, and my friends, partner and daughter have all transitioned beautifully to using gender neutral pronouns and terms for me, so I am in a really good place with my coming out at this point, though it is still a work-in-progress.

I recognized I wasn't just straight at age 12, but I didn't know anything but 'straight' or 'gay' back then. After a two-week experiment, paying attention first to only boys then only girls, I concluded that everyone was equally attractive, but 12-year-old boys are dumb and 12-year-old girls are mean. I prefer dumb over mean, therefore I must be straight. I learned what bisexuality really was (not the skewed idea I had gotten in high school) when I was about 19 and laughed that I didn't have a word for it sooner. I immediately came out to my friends, who were supportive and unsurprised.

At 20, I came out as bisexual to family (at the same time as my partner came out as bisexual to my family). I was most concerned about how my mom, at times severely judgmental, would take it, but her response was essentially "OK, and?" Meanwhile, I had been least concerned about my peace-love-and-understanding hippy Grandma, but she had a lot of trouble with the idea. She came around with a lot of individual conversations with time between for her to think, but she was ready to go to arms, thinking I was being pressured into... sexual things, I guess.

I discovered at age 21, when my partner and a friend explicitly described the difference between 'sexual' and 'aesthetic' attraction, that I have never felt the sensation of being sexually attracted to anyone. I didn't know the difference between 'libido' and 'attraction' at the time, so I began identifying as 'demibisexual', but over the next few years I grew more comfortable with 'bi/asexual,' with libido that is usually-but-not-always nonexistent. I explained to family (well, to those I talk to regularly) that sexuality-wise I am completely ace, but I am also attracted in every other way to same and other genders, and they've all been super supportive about it, which has been great. I suspect coming out as ace goes over smoother when currently with a long-term partner and actively interested in having children.

I was never comfortable calling myself cis, because I knew it wasn't completely true. One of my best friends came out as trans during undergrad, and my little brother came out as trans during my first year of grad school, so I was aware of the binary trans community. I didn't see myself as a part of it though; I had no desire to become a Man, as uncomfortable as I might be with being a Woman. It wasn't until my mom proudly introduced me as "my gender nonconforming daughter!" at a trans support meeting we were attending together that I seriously began thinking critically about my own gender.

I went through a period of telling myself and others that "if I had known the terminology as a child, I would certainly have identified as 'genderqueer' or 'agender,' but I have accepted I am a woman..." or "I don't want to take up space under the trans umbrella" or other concerns about taking resources that others deserve more than me... those other people who are "more trans" than I am... I talked with friends and family and slowly recognized the faults in that logic.

I briefly identified as 'genderfluid: female/nonbinary,' but I have since recognized my gender is always in the realm of nonbinary, even when my presentation is feminine. After reading Maia Kobabe's "Gender Queer: A Memoir" last December, I began more actively unpacking my experiences with gender and viewing them as episodes of the whole story of my gender, instead of trying to convince myself based on one experience at a time that I fit one label or another. When considered altogether, it is overwhelmingly obvious I have never been cis. At the start of this year, I began the process of attaining top surgery, seeking out a licensed counselor to write a letter of recommendation (which is required by my insurance) and scoping out surgeons in network. I first met with my therapist in early April; in July, I met with my surgeon and scheduled my surgery for December and at the start of October, my insurance officially approved the procedure.

My coming out and transition have been smoother than many, especially during COVID, and I am extremely grateful for that.

These coming out stories were put together by the diversity news editor, Madison Mason. If you or someone you know would like to submit your coming out story, then reach out to Madison Mason at madison.mason@iowastatedaily.com or submit your story here.

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