Using a Diary Cam, One Man Records His Coming Out as Transgender

In ‘Secret Lives of Americans,’ Daniel Golden documents his fears while embracing his new gender identity.
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Jul 29, 2016· 2 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Like many teens growing up, Daniel Golden tried to fit in with his peers by emulating Hollywood depictions of high school students. For inspiration, Golden turned to a recent cult favorite.

“I tried to be a Mean Girl,” Golden told TakePart, referring to the 2004 comedy of the same name. “I thought since I don’t feel like a girl, I’m going to make everyone else see me as a girl.”

Golden, now a 19-year-old college student studying forensic psychology, realized he was transgender during his first year of college. Growing up in the conservative city of Sugar Land, Texas, Golden attempted to hide his identity by acting as feminine as possible.

For him, that meant imitating Mean Girls character Regina George by wearing short skirts and heavy makeup—and starting a lot of drama. “I genuinely was not a very great person, but I thought that’s what people expected girls to be,” Golden said.

Golden details his story on the Pivot docuseries Secret Lives of Americans, which follows individuals as they reveal a personal secret to friends and loved ones. He now lives in New York City and has embraced his gender identity. But even after he began hormone therapy to transition to a man, he struggled to come out to two of the most important people in his life: his parents.

Watch a clip from the episode:

Compared with many families in his conservative neighborhood, Golden's was somewhat progressive. Still, he feared there were certain lines his parents might not be willing to cross. He’d faced backlash from his community when he shaved his head in high school—his friends took him to church, believing he might be a lesbian—and he worried that his parents might cut him off financially or refuse to let him come home for visits.

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“Looking back on it, I know it would never happen,” Golden said of the possibility of his parents cutting him off.

When Golden came out as trans, his parents had a few questions but affirmed their unconditional love for him.

“I really was expecting a lot worse than it ended up being. I should have had a lot more faith in the people around me and that I’ve chosen to surround myself with,” Golden said.

Although his dad pledged his unwavering support, he expressed concerns about how others would react to his son’s gender identity.

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Golden’s transition comes as conservative politicians are working to restrict the rights of the transgender community. More than a dozen states have presented bathroom bills that force trans people to use the restroom consistent with the gender they were assigned at birth. Houston, about 20 miles north of Golden’s hometown, failed to pass an equal rights ordinance last year that would have explicitly allowed trans people to use public restrooms based on their preferred gender identity.

“In Texas, unfortunately, I still use the women’s bathroom when I’m in the terrible point in public where there’s no gender-neutral or family option,” Golden said. He attempts to go an entire day without using a public restroom if he can—a common tactic used by trans people who fear they’ll be harassed if they try to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

While using a public bathroom remains fraught for Golden, he is otherwise thriving. He has started attending pride events, is continuing with hormone therapy, and has noticed his voice changing substantially. He remains close with his mom, and his relationship with his dad has bloomed.

“My dad and I have gotten a lot closer from this. It is more of a father-son feel, which is something I had felt like, in my childhood, I tried to create, but it never quite worked out,” Golden said. “Now it feels a lot more solidified, a lot more real.”

Secret Lives of Americans airs every Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Pivot, TakePart’s sister network.