5 questions with Seth Best
Seth Best is co-chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coming Out Project. As a 30-year-old female-to-male transgender person, he aspired to the position in part because he wants to help broaden the focus of the project to make it more inclusive for transgender people. He is a Michigan native who works in computer repair.
How long of a process was it for you to come out as a transgender person?
It has been about a year and a half since I came out as transgender. I guess one could say it took a total of at least 15 years. I always knew I was different. I just didn’t have anything to put with it. I came out as a lesbian at first about six years ago. After I figured it out, it probably took me at least another five years to say this is who I really am.
Is it harder for someone who is transgender to come out than someone who is gay or lesbian?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it is more difficult. It’s just a different kettle of fish. Not everyone identifies as gay or lesbian at first. That’s just what my path was. Coming out as a lesbian, it seemed there was a little more acceptance from the gay and lesbian community not that there’s not acceptance from the gay and lesbian community now. People just don’t know how to treat me sometimes. I experienced that recently at a lesbian bar. What difference does it make whether I was born female or male?
Are male-to-female transgender people accepted more readily than female-to-males?
It appears somewhat that way. I’m wondering if that’s because drag queens are so much more visible than drag kings. By no means are my sisters who are male-to-female transgenders drag queens, but I think because there are drag queens out there that the visual of someone who was born male but presents as female is more common. When I see a drag queen up on the stage I think of her immediately as she. Although I don’t know what their motivation is, I just accept them for who they are. I think there is an educational challenge facing the transgender community.
Is the Coming Out Project embracing your effort to encourage more transgenders to come out?
Very much so. We are working on getting a workshop this year to be specifically for transgender people. I think what is happening now with the gay and lesbian community is that the “T” is becoming more of a focus and not just left to the side.
How great is the need for support for transgender people who are coming out?
It’s tremendous. One stands to lose one’s family over coming out. One stands to lose their job. When one comes out as transgender, there is so much to lose because it is not something that is protected or accepted readily as much as being gay or lesbian is.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 3, 2007