I have the world’s worst timing.
Many people reading this article probably have their own ‘coming out’ stories. For me, coming out was like opening a casino. First, I had a ‘soft’ coming out, where I just told my closest friends. After that, it took a couple of weeks of practice in my presentation to feel comfortable and ready for the next stage: work. I told my manager, who immediately informed me that they wanted to do anything they could to support me. They asked me, pointedly, “How do you want to handle this within our store, in particular?”
I got appropriate bathroom access immediately, and my managers demonstrated a ton of extra sensitivity when I interacted with my usual customers. On a few occasions, there were creeps who would actually brush my arm and ask me how long I’d been on hormone replacement therapy. It made my skin crawl, but my managers were there, ready and waiting to intercept any icky interactions.
It was a scenario I hadn’t actually prepared for, having my boss leave these announcements up to me, as to the place, time, and medium for communicating them with my co-workers. Coming out at work, as it turned out, was the easy part.
Telling my family was another story.
I grew up in South Central Kansas, and my memory of those days bears one common, central theme: my family didn’t do well with difficult conversation topics. My dad was the patriarch, his beliefs backed up by his church congregation and the many older men that made up his inner circle. My mother would be the only one I knew I’d be able to count on, so I decided to start with her.
One Friday night, I left work, telling my manager and closest friends: “I’m going to do it. I’m going to finally tell my family and let the chips fall where they may.” They offered their support, told me to reach out if I needed an extra day off to cope with their reactions. I felt so blessed.
The next day, I had my mom to come visit. I was nervous, and she could tell. She was in pain, and I could see it in the way she carried her body from her first step into my apartment. I had an idea: what if mom and I got super high before I told her? There’s no way she could have an awful reaction, right? So I loaded bowl after bowl, until she told me she’d had enough.
I sat across from her on the couch. I said, quietly, “Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“Okay,” she smiled back in a haze. “What’s up, Jord?”
“I have been struggling with this for almost five months, finding a way to tell you. I’m transgender, and I’m going to be living my life as a woman from now on, because it feels right.”
She giggled back. “I figured something was up.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, shocked that she’d answer so boldly.
“Well, your dad and I have been seeing changes in you, your body, how you carry yourself, your mood, so it had to be something. We didn’t really know what it was, I mean, we had a couple of guesses—”
“Like what?” I said, interrupting.
“We weren’t sure if you were gay, or if you had a drug problem, like coke or something like that, but I can say I’m happy to see that you’re happier.”
“Now that you know, is this better or worse than you’d imagined?” I asked plainly.
“I’m not quite sure,” she said, smiling. “You’re not pulling my leg, are you?”
“Of course not!” I said, surprised she’d suggest something like that.
“It’s just that, you know, it’s April Fool’s Day.”
I froze, then broke into laughter. What day it actually was had totally slipped my mind, and she was right. There was no going back now, I told myself. And I haven’t looked back since.
To support Jordan during her top surgery recovery, check out her gofundme campaign: gofundme.com/jordanhansonsurgicalrecovery.