Helping People Understand The Struggles Of Gender Identity

Helping People Understand The Struggles Of Gender Identity

"Think about how much gender truly means to you and how big of a role it plays in society."
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The city of Greensboro is known for its celebrated diversity and unification of different types of people. So it comes as no surprise that the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a very inclusive place for people of any type of background. UNC Greensboro also offers an accommodating environment to LGBT students.

Shortly after moving in, I met Bibi Miller, who identified as gender-nonconforming. At this point in my life, I had yet to make anybody who was not cisgendered. Now, Bibi identifies more as transgender. Our blooming friendship and her experiences have given me a new perspective on what obstacles transgender people might face. I asked Bibi some questions in hopes that whoever reads this would have a better understanding of what it is like for people who are not cisgendered

1. What lead you to realize that your gender was different?

"It was a gradual process. Back in 2014, I came out as gay to my peers. That was a really liberating thing for me to do; I now had more freedom to explore/express certain aspects of my identity that I had suppressed for years(or maybe that I was not even aware of. My attention shifted (pretty dramatically) from my sexual orientation to my gender identity."

Bibi says that her story is not like many you may see in mainstream media. "I did always know since a young age nor did I try on my mothers' makeup when I was young." she says. "That being said, it is important that people to know that everyone in the transgender community has had their own unique journey; no one story is more or less valid than another.

2. How do you feel when someone misgenders you?

"Misgendering is easy for me to forgive, but very hard for me to forget" She says. "This may sound harsh, but even if the person who misgenders me quickly apologizes and corrects themselves, I will always remember that in their eyes (and in the eyes of others) I was seen as a "he/him/his" or a "sir."

She says that someone misgendering her is a tremendous blow to her self-confidence. She wants to stress to people that she feels no hostility or anger afterward. Bibi says she knows that sometimes calling someone the wrong pronoun can be an innocent mistake. But it affects her self-consciousness.

3. In August, your pronouns were "they, them, theirs" had you not realized your true gender identity? Or did you not feel comfortable using the "she, her, hers" pronouns?

Bibi says that when she identified as gender non-conforming, she felt that she had yet to "earn the 'she' status." Namely, she presented herself as more androgynous than feminine. She says that her transition will be a gradual one. It is important that people understand that not all transitions go at the same pace and that not everyone identifies as male or female.

4. What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is when a person feels a certain discomfort when it comes to their gender identity and their biological sex. Bibi says that people who struggle with this feel very uncomfortable in their body. They start to hate their own body. She also says that when dysphoria hits, trans people may lose their will to do anything. One's confidence is basically gone.

5. What do you want cisgender people to understand about being transgender?

"Have empathy. Gender affects nearly every aspect of life. Think about how much gender truly means to you. It plays a big role in society. Gender identity and body image are deeply personal issues to the trans community. People should not take their cisgender, gender conforming identity for granted."

Cover Image Credit: Watermark Online

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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