How do you know if you’re a woman or a man? No, really, how do you know? This may seem like a ridiculous question. I mean, its one of those things you just know, right? You know it so well you’ve never stopped to think about how you know. Do you look down at your genitals or breasts? Do you check how long your hair is or whether there are any neck ties in your closet? Do you have some blood drawn to learn about your genetic make-up? Of course not! You. Just. Know. Well, that is not the case for everyone.
I came out as a lesbian when I was twenty-one years old, but this story is not about that time I came out, it’s about a different time. You see, I learned very quickly that you don’t just “come out of the closet” once. Living in a world where being heterosexual and cisgender are assumed, if you don’t fit this mold and you want people to know, you have to tell them. Sometimes people figure it out for themselves, sometimes they don’t make assumptions, but a lot of the time, it’s up to you to let them know. Over the years I’ve developed lots of ways of doing this, for instance: talking about my partner by name and with feminine pronouns, asking future employers whether their benefits cover same-sex domestic partners, or just flat out telling a doctor she was incorrect when she said “I assume you’re heterosexual.”