Trans Travels: Coming out to Strangers
By Bruno Cinti
Perhaps I should talk about the few dozens of people, the twenty-something beers, the numerous heartfelt compliments, the one fall from a mountain bike speeding downhill, the night when the moon shone on our laughter by the side of a lake, the million stars, the infinite conversations that have passed. Or all the times I came out to strangers.
“SO HOW DO YOU PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF BARING YOUR SOUL TO SOMEONE YOU HAVE JUST MET?”
Coming out to strangers can be scary. Even when you feel the good vibe, you never know how they will react, how (un)informed they are about trans issues, what kind of questions they might ask. Anxiety can staple your mouth shut if you let it, but at the same time a little caution can potentially save your life. So how do you predict the outcome of baring your soul to someone you have just met? The easiest answer is you just don’t.
Coming out to strangers is taking a leap of faith. If you falter, you will fall. So you just take a deep breath and visualize yourself at the other side of the abyss that separates your true self from others. And then, sometimes, you understand that instead of plunging you soar. You fly.
I can’t even begin to describe the beautiful reactions I got. The deep questions, the hugs, the toasts, the cheers. How an American midwife smiled at me and said “T is magic” with the most adorable wink while an Israeli-Belgian couple cheered and told me, amazed, how they would never have guessed. The way a Chilean girl with purple hair thanked me for sharing my story and answering her questions. How a Californian doctor with a Bernie Sanders T-shirt merely nodded, acknowledging the piece of information as just another detail about the friendly guy he was discussing politics with. Or how an Argentinian hugged me and said I was the greatest. How we laughed when I said how privileged I was to have had the chance to choose my own name and how they agreed that anyone should be able to. All the beautiful things they said to me. How a New Yorker found it necessary to state I had the most wonderful spirit she had ever met. And most of all, how my coming out never changed the way they treated me or the person I was to their eyes.
At the beginning of my transition, when I was filled with fear and rage, I would have never thought it possible. Coming out (even to my closest friends and relatives) used to be torture. Their reactions were never what I wanted. They were unconvinced, since I was not confident. They feared for me, because I was scared. They were uncomfortable, because I was squirming. I couldn’t stand to live in my own skin and I was asking them to accept something I hadn’t. And even when I received love and support, it was never enough. I could spot every crack in the surface of their affection.
“I DON’T REALLY KNOW AT WHICH POINT IN THIS NEVER-ENDING ROAD I TOOK THE RIGHT TURN.”
I don’t really know at which point in this never-ending road I took the right turn. Now, coming out sets me free. I don’t want to challenge my audience, to point my finger at their ignorance or prejudices. I don’t want to create an awkward moment of confession and then scrutinize every aspect of the outcome. It just flows. It is just another piece of the puzzle that my identity is. It allows me to connect with others, to reach deeper understandings. To touch their souls. I love the person I see reflected in their eyes, as they fill with wonder and admiration.
Traveling has always been a path of self-discovery for me. A way to conquer my fears. And on this journey I’m thumbing my way to confidence and self love. So to all those who have been listening and giving me love in return, thanks for the ride.