10 Questions With A Trans Student
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I Asked A Trans Student At The University Of Oklahoma 10 Questions

Let's put aside gender roles for a few minutes.

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I Asked A Trans Student At The University Of Oklahoma 10 Questions
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I sat down with a trans student here at the University of Oklahoma who was open to answering a few questions for me. A lot of the questions are relating to his journey and to his struggles in all aspects of life. Many of the questions we both collaborated on to formulate and only questions he approved beforehand were used.

He is an FTM (female-to-male) transgender, meaning he was assigned female at birth and identifies as male. He began his journey when coming out just after his 14th birthday and starting hormones just before his 15th birthday. Now, over three years on testosterone, he lives stealth and believes that there are many misconceptions about his life.

A few terms to get us started

As many terms stated in this article are not so common, I have listed a few here along with the student's definition.

Cis-gender: When someone's sex assigned at birth aligns with the gender they identify as.

Pass: In general terms, the ability of a trans person to be perceived by strangers as the gender they identify with fluidly.

Stealth: Being stealth is passing nearly, if not, all the time. The individual may also choose to withhold their trans identity with the public, to where only a few people know. They present as their identity to others almost, if not, all the time.

FTM: Female-to-male, assigned female at birth but identifies as a male.

Binder: Used to bind the chest for a more masculine appearance.

Top surgery: For FTM individuals, this is a breast removal surgery. Although it is required in many states to change the gender markers on birth certificates and drivers' licenses, it is considered a cosmetic surgery and not covered by most health insurance plans.

1. How did you come to the realization that you are trans? When? Why then?

"In May of 2014, I received a question on the social media site called Askfm. It read: "I don't know how to imply this, and you don't have to reply or anything if you don't want to, but please look up the definition of transgender. It may be how you feel about yourself and feel free to look up the equality center in your local area. They hold support groups. You're a really strong person." My first thought was: "How dare you act like you know who I am." I mean, I was a lot younger, so don't mind the fierce attitude. Once I put my attitude aside, I did look into it. When I did, I found a world I never expected. I realized all of these people are normal people. They are not the creatures the media played them out to be. They are just people uncomfortable with the body they have, something I had always felt but never realized. I was raised as a girl, and in that sense, it was completely normal for me to be uncomfortable in my own body, as bad as that sounds."

2. What was your family's reaction?

"At first, most family members had to understand the processes that were going to take place and what would all change for me to feel comfortable. I had a generally accepting family, but that didn't come with 100% acceptance at first. I think the difference between then and now is how they see me more as for how I identify now. They understand what I needed to get where I am today, to appear and feel like a man. They of course still see me as the transgender in the family, but I believe their perceptions of me have changed and have come to more of an accepting role to who I am, that I want nothing more than to live my life as the man I am."

3. Do you feel like you stick out, or are 'different'?

"I do feel different in regular settings. I may be sitting in a class of 150 and wonder if anyone knows they're sitting in a class with a trans person. That goes for the organizations I am in as well. Not that I fear them knowing but wonder if they even have the slightest thought. I do feel like I am different, but I don't mind it. It's just a thought in my mind that I had a different experience in life, I went through two puberties, I have lived the life of both gender perceptions, experienced male privilege from the inside and outside. I have a multi-faceted experience and I think that only makes me more knowledgeable in my experiences and the experiences of others. We all have our backgrounds and things that make us who we are, mine just happens to be of both genders. Saying this, I never saw myself as a girl, but I do think being perceived by society as a female gives a different experience than being perceived as a male."

4. How did you feel about coming out and being 'different'?

"I will always hate that I had to come out, always despise that I was put in a position to have to go against societal norms to become who I am, but I would never change what I went through to get where I am today. I had to go against the stream quite a bit, inform so many on who I was and 'how it all works'. I had to work so hard to dress, walk, and sound like a man, to pass. Slipping under the radar was nearly impossible, strangers never knew what pronouns to use. There was nothing comfortable about social interaction, nothing that didn't make me feel like an outcast. I put in so much and I feel like it finally 'paid off'. Today, I can walk down the street, even talk with friends, and no one knows the past that I have. No one has to know what's in my pants. Only a few close friends know, and I'm comfortable with that because I can finally be comfortable in my role as a man in the world, there's no exception to that. I live stealth, I live as a regular man, and I wouldn't change a thing about it. So many would be blown away with my past, but it's all unnecessary to understanding my character and worth as a person."

5. What is being stealth for you, and what are some pros and cons?

"Being stealth is something I chose because for me I don't think I need or want to tell everyone about my personal business. I am not shameful that I am trans but fitting into society smoothly is more comfortable for me. In college today, with the large number of people I know, only a handful know that I am trans. Some people I'm close with have no idea. I wouldn't say I feel bad for withholding that information, but I definitely feel that it can make others feel that they weren't as close with me as they thought if, down the line, I decide to disclose that information. As it changes their entire perception of me, I generally withhold or tell right off the bat. It depends on the person and how accepting I assume they will be. Pros? I think fitting smoothly in with everyone else is a big perk. Another, I'm not bombarded with personal questions that anyone would be uncomfortable with answering. I receive the validation I want when no one sees me as anything other than how I present myself. Lastly, I can support and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community as an ally and be heard across the aisle as I present as a cis-gender straight man. Cons? I am not included as much in things going on in the LGBTQ+ community. Another thing, some people think I was born with the male privilege that I have, but I had to fight for it and I can't just explain that to everyone who brings up the topic. I want to be prideful for the ones who can't be, but I also am comfortable in coming off as a cis-gender man because that what I would prefer I was born as. Plus, I'm rather awkward and kind of shy so sticking out doesn't go so well for me."

6. Is there anything you feel you have to hide?

"In day-to-day life, there are many things still, to this day, that I feel like I have to hide. I feel like my voice will give me away at any moment, although I've been told by many that my voice is low and very naturally masculine. Also, I have yet to have chest surgery, so I constantly feel like the shape of my chest, even with a binder on, will make it evident. I tend to gesture a lot, and that is associated predominantly with women. I always feel like the clothes I wear will fit me weird, oddly shaping me as a not so masculine structure. Other than physically, I don't feel like I have to hide much. Some may think I have to hide my own identity, but for me, it's just personal information like anyone else that we don't need to tell the world."

7. The bathroom situation, what are your thoughts?

"Oh joy, that one. I think one thing I always hear is "I would never want my daughter in the bathroom with a man dressed as a woman." Here's the other side of that, when I was transitioning, making myself appear as masculine as possible while on hormones, before they began to change my body as much, or at all, I had to use public restrooms. I didn't look super masculine, but I also didn't look feminine either. I chose to go to the men's room because I would not at all feel comfortable in the women's. I would seem like a threat. Keep in mind, I was 14 at the time, so the lack of masculinity fit into the part of not hitting puberty yet. I would have to go to the restroom with the fear that any man that felt I didn't belong could take advantage of me, could physically assault me at any point, and I would barely be able to defend myself. My mother drilled it into my head that when it comes to bathrooms, I was the most vulnerable in there and that I had to constantly be on defense in regards to my safety. When people talk about the safety of their children, I think about how I have feared their husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, or themselves when I stepped into the restroom, without anyone knowing. There has not been a single reported case of a transgender individual assaulting someone else in a restroom, but there have been many hate crimes upon trans people for the sole reason that they are trans. The odds are against me, not your daughter. I'm simply trying to pee."

8. How do you feel about having children?

"I used to not think I wanted kids, but now I'm not so sure. Regardless of my decision in the future, the options are much harder than a regular family. I won't carry my own child, that is not something I will ever do as a man. What I could do though is foster and/or adopt, as well as use a sperm donor with my wife, whoever that may be. I think in time, what works for us as a couple will work best as it is a joint decision, but I know that no matter what happens, I will never be able to have a biological child with my future spouse. They have to know that going into it. I have no problem fostering and adopting, but that ease of having our own biological children is out the window."

9. Do you have any regrets from during your transition?

Giphy

"I have few regrets, but none I would actually want to change. I believe we all learn from each experience. If I had been more patient in starting hormones, and more patient with the changes to happen, I would not have had such high hopes and feel so let down early on. If I had been a little less headstrong, I may have kept a few others around in a more willing manner to help them learn. I wish I had never expected and waited for things to happen, that have yet to happen to this day. Yet, with all my experiences, I have learned from each one. I don't regret the things I've said or even thought because every experience has led me to learn about myself and others. Every single one has somehow brought me to where I am today."

10. What do you hope for?

"I think for myself, there is a lot to hope for. Speaking only to my journey in my transition and self-improvement, I think there is a lot to be said. Of course, I hope for physical things like more facial hair, top surgery, and a more muscular physique, but those are only surface level in comparison to the reality of it. I do I hope I can better accept myself as I am, with the body I was given, and the life I am living. I have been on testosterone for over three years, so most physical changes have been changed to the way they will be. With that in mind, I still have a hard time recognizing myself in the mirror. I see pictures of myself that others take and spend time studying it finding similarities to what I know and what I didn't notice about myself before. I hope one day I can recognize and accept myself fully. Hopes for others? I hope other people can have an open mind in relation to trans folks. I think some speak with a negative connotation about trans people without realizing who might be around them or anything about trans people as a whole. It is a choice to transition, but your gender is never a choice."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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