One Year Being Out as a Trans Woman in Texas

On that fateful morning of May 17, 2023, I suddenly felt like Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, as I pressed “post” on social media announcing to the world my name, pronouns, and that I was trans. This development was years in the making and incredibly daunting to execute. Like that blue comic book deity, I was suddenly existing simultaneously at multiple points in time. I was no longer alone in my apartment, hovering over my phone waiting to see how people would respond. I was now thrust into the puzzle pieces of my past.

It is November 2007 and I am watching Enchanted in a theater. I am transfixed by Amy Adams as Princess Giselle. Her bouncing red hair, the way she’s unabashedly herself. A small portion of my brain knows I want to be just like her when I grow up. It is August 2015. I am watching Tangerine in a theater. I’m captivated by the film’s two trans women protagonists. It is October 2009. I’m re-reading Suzy Eddie Izzard’s Wikipedia page and become fascinated by how she describes herself as “a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.” That sounds so right to me. I don’t know why yet.

It is October 2013. I’m a high schooler oblivious to the concept of transness. I think to myself “if I dated a girl, I’d be more of the girlfriend in our relationship.” It is August 2019. I am putting on lipstick for the first time. A month later, I’ll wear a blouse, fingerless gloves, and a bright red wig to my college campus.

It is April 2005. I’m recalling the music video for the country song “I Don’t Have To Be Me ‘Till Monday.” It features people walking through a portal and coming out the other side in their “party mode.” As a youngster, I recall a segment where an assigned male-at-birth person walks through the portal. He emerges from the other side a lady. That segment doesn’t exist. But it felt so real in my head. It is September 2020. Thanks to an extremely helpful virtual therapy session, I finally say out loud that I want to take estrogen for the first time.

These are the memories racing through my mind. What happens next is a whirlwind. I respond to a flurry of supportive social media comments and posts. People compliment my new profile picture, with my colorful fingernails especially receiving praise. Later, I go to the mall with a dear friend of mine. Here, we hang out, make goofy Nathan For You references, and munch on grub in the food court area. I’m so grateful for the virtual and physical support I’ve received this day. No wonder I slipped into bed that night with a massive grin. Right there, I knew that day would become another of those memories etched forever into my brain. Every scent, every song, every joke, everything about May 17, 2023 is permanently seared in my soul.

I wish I could tell you coming out publicly as a trans woman solved all my problems. Wouldn’t it be grand to say that my depression floated away from my brain like a balloon soaring toward the sky? That every soul I waved to on the sidewalk greeted me with acceptance? Reality is, of course, more nuanced than that. Especially when you’re living in Texas in 2024.

Trans folks — along with Palestinians, immigrants, and all people of color — are the current boogeyman of choice for Texas conservative lawmakers. A few weeks after I came out, the Texas Senate passed sweeping legislation depriving trans youth of receiving transition care. Another bill passed a few months later targeting trans college athletes.

Just last month, Governor Greg Abbott delivered a hate-spewing stump speech to the Young Conservatives of Texas. Here, he warned of the “dangers” of teachers dressing in clothes not traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth. Whether they were cis or trans didn’t matter. In this speech, he declared “this type of behavior is not OK, and…we want to make sure we end [it] in the state of Texas.”

No wonder I’m happy when cis folks walk by me without acknowledging my existence. I’ll take that over being maliciously targeted by cis Texas politicians or random dudes catcalling me from cars, asking me out on dates mere seconds after I meet them. Point blank, Texas is distinctly unsafe for trans folks. However, somehow this deluge of bad news doesn’t immediately make me want to hurry back into the closet. Maybe it’s the therapy. Maybe it’s being on estrogen for nearly two years. Perhaps it’s having a social circle of wonderful trans friends.

Whatever the reason, all these setbacks just make me want to dig my heels in. I come from a long line of stubborn Texans! You can’t make us Laman’s do just anything! That includes making me shrink away from wearing my colorful dresses out in public and being me. I’ve worked hard to be here. Abbott and his cronies aren’t about to take that away.

That stubbornness has been amplified by the new manifestations of joy I’ve discovered coming out. I never could’ve imagined how much glee I’d get from introducing myself to new people as “Lisa Laman.” I got to especially revel in that social excitement when I ventured to the Austin Film Festival last October. Here, I met new people who never knew me by my deadname. They’d never seen me without my hair bleached bright red. I got to present myself with my dream name and appearance! One screening even involved me running into other autistic trans people with red hair!

Coming out has forced even my depression and self-critical mind to be more conscious of my capabilities. I ripped the band-aid off and finally presented myself as Lisa Laman for all the world to see! With that done…what else could I do? That’s when I pursued gender-reaffirming things like getting my hair bleached red and femme voice therapy. Those tasks terrified me before and still do to a degree! I’ve always been so concerned that I wouldn’t look or sound “proper” enough as a lady. If I wasn’t going to look 110% perfect, why even try? It already takes so much effort to just exist in a late capitalistic dystopia. Why exert energy into exercises that just remind me how I’m far removed from my dream gender presentation?

But after coming out, I’ve leaned into the idea of never looking like what narrow-minded politicians consider “a proper woman.” On my best days, I guide my fashion and makeup around the notion that I can never please those souls. Instead, I’ll focus on lathering my face in colorful lipstick, glitter, and eye makeup for my pleasure. This initiative has also been aided by my increased social interactions with other trans women. They inspire me constantly in the cool fashion and makeup lewks they execute.

I got to be around many of those amazing women at a recent Texas Theatre screening of The People’s Joker, a deeply personal motion picture from writer/director/star Vera Drew. A quasi-autobiographical look at Drew’s life filtered through the lens of Batman mythos, The People’s Joker is exceedingly entertaining, visually inventive, and shockingly moving. Watching it theatrically didn’t just give me the chance to watch a great movie on the big screen. I also got to sit in a movie theater with a primarily trans audience.

I love going to see films theatrically more than anything else in the world. It’s why I’m a film critic and a passionate devotee of all kinds of movies. However, it can be exhausting being the only trans person in the room. That wasn’t an issue here! It was wonderful to merge the joys of theatrical moviegoing with the euphoria of communal trans connections. Drew was even there in person (with bunny ears on her head) to offer more trans joy through hysterical anecdotes.

All of us trans moviegoers in that Texas Theatre auditorium exist in a state with deeply prejudiced politicians. These powerful souls keep telling us and all Texans that we’re anomalies undeserving of respect. However, that night, we all got to experience The People’s Joker while being reminded of our sheer numbers. Us trans folks can look like anything! We are many! We are mighty! There are days when I feel hopeless being a trans lady film geek in Texas. But that night reminded me of the amazing community that’s endured in the face of endless challenges in the Lone Star State.

Those challenges can often emerge in Dallas in forms beyond bigoted politicians. A few months before I came out publicly, I was walking home from my local library dressed as myself. On my voyage back to my apartment, a man confronted me, saying “I was beautiful.” Then he aggressively asked to squeeze my breasts. I ignored him, but he kept following and yelling. Eventually, I took cover in a nearby 7/11. Lurching to the back of the store, I waited behind a wine bottle display before I felt safe. To top everything off, a woman in the store saw me emerge from the back visibly frightened. Witnessing this, she felt now was the perfect opportunity to give me makeup tips so I could “look really pretty.” Thanks lady, great timing! When I got home, I bawled and bawled. I immediately didn’t want to leave my bed ever again. But that night, I had a press screening of 80 for Brady to attend. When the time came to leave the house for the showing, I exhaled. My favorite soothing tunes started blaring on my headphones. It was time to change. I put on one of my favorite dresses and got to the Angelika Dallas Theater in one piece.

My mind was in a haze. I could barely concentrate on the movie or the other people around me. All I could think of was that guy’s cutting voice and his fingers reaching out for me. However, in the back of my mind, I was proud of myself. I had taken the journey to my safe haven of the movie theater! Not only that, but I’d taken the voyage dressed in colorful makeup and an outfit I loved. It was like my form of retribution against a guy I’d never see again. He wanted to possess my femininity. But he didn’t. I controlled my femme presentation. I used it for my reaffirmation. He didn’t own me.

That fateful day of harassment was an experience that distilled existing as a trans woman in Dallas, Texas. Dehumanization from cis people is everywhere. But I’m still here. So are those wonderful souls who made watching The People’s Joker such an extra special experience. Those difficult days are awful and shouldn’t exist. But surviving them has reminded me how much I love being myself. Not even grabby cis guys or Governor Abbott can make me go back into the closet.

Taking estrogen was one of the greatest decisions of my life. So was coming out publicly. On my best days, I feel like my gender icon Rapunzel stepping outside of her tower for the first time: “I’m completely free.” Of course, that’s not the default attitude inhabiting my body as a trans woman in Texas. I experience every emotion imaginable, including negative feelings that can be torturous and draining to endure. However, I don’t have to feel only rainbows in my soul for my gender identity to be valid. Even the worst of my days is easier to navigate as Lisa Laman.

Everything’s bigger in Texas. That includes the resilience of our trans community.

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Lisa Laman

Lisa Laman is a life-long movie fan, writer, and Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic located both on the autism spectrum and in Texas. Given that her first word was "Disney", Lisa Laman was "doomed" from the start to be a film geek! In addition to writing feature columns and reviews for Collider, her byline has been seen in outlets like Polygon, The Mary Sue, Fangoria, The Spool, and ScarleTeen. She has also presented original essays related to the world of cinema at multiple academic conferences, been a featured guest on a BBC podcast, and interviewed artists ranging from Anna Kerrigan to Mark Wahlberg. When she isn’t writing, Lisa loves karaoke, chips & queso, and rambling about Carly Rae Jepsen with friends.

Lisa has written 6 articles for us.


  1. In times like this one, I appreciate your words so much. Your testament to resilience and communal joy means a lot to read.

    I’m going to stop by this article time to time, anytime the world feels too heavy to hold.

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