Jay Sennett |||

Why I Might Not Tell You I’m Transsexual

A statue sits bathed in light surrounded by darkness. Shot with a Canon 60D by Jay Sennett

This statue lives with us. Shot with a Canon 60D.

I wasn’t ready to be welcomed.

That’s how Rev. Thomas Schade described his reluctance to involve himself fully in his new UU community (here in Ann Arbor). Being welcomed brings with it responsibilities and fears, fears that a person or persons may make us uncomfortable or ask us things we cannot commit to, the call to commitment reinforcing a belief that we can’t say no.

I understand as a transsexual.  I have been reluctant to share my history with people.

Why might I not tell you I’m transsexual?

I don’t want the possibility of a difficult conversation: The conversations where you overpersonalize my lack of disclosure (“Why didn’t you tell me!?!”) or decide my personal history for me (“Oh, I know you are born that way. That just makes perfect sense to me.”)


Thank you, by the way, for listening to me.

Rusted Sculpture behind UMMA. Shot with a Canon 60D by Jay Sennett.

Sculpture behind UMMA. Shot with a Canon 60D.

Experience a few of these conversations, and all transsexual and transgender people have endured these awkward, uncomfortable, and frankly, immature, conversations with people, and you would say no thank you, too.

Unless I can be sure you can act responsibly and maturely when I disclose I am transsexual or transgender, I’ll say no thank you, I’m not ready to be welcomed.

Of course I’m removing myself from human interaction, or, perhaps, more pointedly, human intimacy.

But understand this: When I want to be welcomed, I must take responsibility for protecting myself against the very real possibility of these stupid, adolescent responses. The most astonishing response I ever had came from a woman - an awarded academic - who knew me when I lived as a woman.

When I reintroduced myself to her, within two minutes she asked me if I had gone all the way, a parlance for inquiring if I’ve had a phalloplasty.

Can I ask you about your genitalia any time I want?

Why might I not tell you I’m transsexual? I might have to be responsible for myself and you.  This is what an adult does with a child, not with another adult.

Who wants to risk vulnerability with someone unable to handle it?

I reject wholeheartedly societal expectations that my acceptance as a transsexual must come at the expense of my personal comfort and safety. These children-in-adult bodies believe my transgender body obligates me to tell them about my genitalia, my sex life and any thing else they want to know.

Why might I not tell you I’m transsexual?  Answering your questions reduces my dignity to your level.

Why might I not tell you I’m transsexual? It bores me sometimes.

I’ve been taking hormones now for over twenty years. I know you might care a great deal about my gender. That’s cool, sort of.

Why don’t you care more about your gender than mine?

Why might I not tell you I’m transgender?

You tell me.

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