Putting On Makeup in the Rearview Mirror: My Experience Coming Out as Trans

In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11), Care2s Sarah Rose talks about her experience with coming out as trans.

I’ve been living as an openly transgender woman now for the past several years — but my road to self discovery was a long one.

My life has felt like a kaleidoscope of experiences — sadness, joy, frustration, hope, anger and affirmation — but I am now grateful to be living in my truth.

As a kid, I attended a religious high school, which gave me very little room to openly question my gender identity or orientation, lest I risk expulsion. I spent a lot of nights coming home from school, crying and quietly cursing God for making me feel the way I did. We had a strict dress code — khakis and polo shirts, short haircuts for the boys. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.

Every day, I felt the overwhelming urge to crawl out of my skin. I didn’t know why I felt that way at the time — although later my feelings would be explained to me as gender dysphoria, an extreme anxiety caused when you feel as though your body and/or presentation doesn’t align with how you feel inside.

I acquired a few items of female clothes that I kept hidden in the back of my closet. Late at night, I would lie on the floor of my bedroom after everyone had gone to sleep and wear them. I wished I had been born in a different body.

After graduating high school, I attended a local university and lived at home with my family. I was overwhelmed with the contrast between my high school and the more open, freely inquisitive culture that existed on campus. I found myself befriending people who encouraged me to be open about exploring who I was and who I wanted to be.

The more I came out of my shell, the more it felt like there was a weight being lifted off my shoulders. For the first time, I felt like I was becoming myself.

I was still afraid of my family’s opinion. A lot of evenings were spent driving to meet friends, only to stop when I was halfway there and pull my car into a grocery store parking lot to change into a dress and heels. I had become an expert at doing my makeup in my rearview mirror.

At the time, I didn’t know the word for what was going on with me — I had heard “transgender” in passing, but I had never taken the time to self-examine. As I progressed through school, that term became a source of pride and identity that I enveloped myself in.

In the years since college, my world has opened up to something amazing and fulfilling. I feel so lucky that I get to live my truth every single day and be who I am. I came out several years ago — and despite my biggest fears, the world didn’t end. I kept living.

While it took a little while, my family has even come around to openly embrace me and accept me for who I am. I have friends in my life now who love me and support me — who give me affirmation and strength to face the days ahead.

Nowdays, I work as Care2′s Senior LGBTQ Issues Advocate, where I get to work on a variety of issues that affect the well-being of queer people.

I also play in a rock band called Sarah and the Safe Word. This past year, we played the Vans Warped Tour, and we’ve opened up for bands like The Spill Canvas, Metro Station and Wednesday 13.

If you’re a young person conflicted about your gender identity, I know the world can seem like it’s stacked against you. Sometimes, the fear of being who you are is crippling. I know that fear firsthand.

There’s a narrative out there that says if you’re queer or trans, your dreams are unattainable. But that narrative is wrong. You are capable of being anyone you want to be.

Let me tell you — it does get better. The hurt doesn’t last.

There’s a whole community of people waiting on the other end to support you. You’re not alone, and you never will be. Life will keep moving after you come out and find happiness in your own truth. My bet is that you will.

Don’t ever give up on the dreams you have. The world needs your voice. Come out, and be proud.

42 comments

Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie3 days ago

Thank you so very much.

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Timothy Martin
Timothy Martin4 days ago

Very moving personal story, thank you for sharing and giving hope to others.

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Paulo R
Paulo R4 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R4 days ago

ty

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S4 days ago

Thanks

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Elaine W
Elaine W4 days ago

Thanks for posting.

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Jetana A
Jetana A5 days ago

Just don't put on makeup while driving the car!
It's good that awareness of transgender issues and support for trannies to come out are growing. I have so much respect for the "new wimmin" I have known and loved.

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Peggy B
Peggy B5 days ago

TYFS

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