“Today, for example, is a day where I feel terrible about my body and how I look. My dad made me go out with him and my mom and it was really frustrating trying to get dressed because I couldn’t find any clothes that didn’t look very feminine. I just didn’t want to leave the house at all looking like this.”
For most of the population, waking up and figuring out what to wear is debatably the easiest part of the day. But according to The Williams Institute, there are 700,000 self-identified transgender individuals in the United States who struggle with this and more as part of their daily routine.
A transgender individual is a person who feels as if their gender identity is different from the sex that was assigned to them at birth. Transgender is often referred to as an “umbrella term” which means it covers a category of related subjects.
“I don’t really like being considered female. I mean that’s hard at school because I don’t look any different. Some days it makes me uncomfortable and other days it’s better,” said sophomore Alex, which is not their real name. “With me not associating with anything it leaves me kind of as nothing.”
Alex is biologically female, but prefers to either side with the male gender or does not associate with a gender at all. When interviewed, Alex preferred to be referred to by the pronoun “they” rather than the binary “she” or “he.”
“I’m agender, which means I don’t associate with any gender. Recently I have been confused, so it isn’t to the point where I’m gender fluid (a dynamic mix between a male and female). For me it is never strongly either way,” Alex said.
Alex first thought about gender identity in the summer of 2013 because a close friend was dealing with being transgender.
“I started thinking about it because I never really considered it before. It never came across to me that I could identify with something else. Once the idea came up, I seriously considered it,” Alex said. “It was really gradual, but once the idea got planted in my head, it went from there.”
Since summer, the idea of being a different gender or no gender at all “hasn’t wavered.” Alex is only out as transgender to a few close friends and not any family members.
“I don’t think [my family] would treat me that badly, but I don’t think they would agree with it. It will be really hard,” Alex said. “Since I don’t really like being seen as a girl, I might want to pass as either [gender] so people don’t misgender me. I was talking about short haircuts to get, and when I mentioned it to my mom, she made a face and was like, ‘Ew.’”
Alex says that their close friends are supportive, but they are worried about how people will react in the future if they decide to come out as trans.
“I think the worst thing is if someone refuses to acknowledge what I identify as. That really hasn’t happened to me yet because not many people know,” Alex said. “It is kind of weird sometimes because more recently [the feeling has] started being stronger for me, feeling like I’m in the wrong body.”
Alex has a blog to portray their feelings and frequently uses the internet to meet people.
“[Being trans] affects how I present myself, especially in written word or online,” Alex said. “When I sign up for a website and there are just male or female [options], I just don’t know [what to click]. If I choose female, I feel kind of uncomfortable, but if I choose male, people see me and they will be like, ‘Oh you’re not really a boy, you’re faking it.’”
Alex identifies their sexual orientation as pansexual, and finds that dating and being interested in people becomes complicated.
“[Being pansexual] is when you like people regardless of what gender they are. They could be any gender: male, female or somewhere in between, whatever it is,” Alex said. “I think that [dating] would be an issue because a lot of people aren’t that accepting as it is. I think that if it got to the point where I was passing as a boy and then they found out I was a girl, they might freak out. I can’t and wouldn’t date anyone I wasn’t really close to at this point.”
Verbal abuse, physical abuse, employment discrimination and housing discrimination are all repercussions transgender people have faced for being perceived as different.
Although Alex has never attempted or thought about suicide, according to The Los Angeles Times, 41 percent of transgender or gender-nonconforming people have attempted suicide.
Alex says that they have considered the possibility of having a sex reassignment surgery, getting hormone supplements and changing their voice to be more masculine when they get older.
“[The future] will be better because I feel like I can’t do a lot of things [right now] because my parents don’t know who I am,” Alex said.
Alex continues to stay true to who they are and believes anyone else in their situation should do the same.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that who you are isn’t valid. Your identity is valid; it is what you identify as. You can’t let people tell you you’re something else based on your appearance,” Alex said. “You have to stick with [your beliefs] and know that is who you are. Just do what you can to get where you want to be.”
— Ally Dejong