30 Day Trans Challenge Day 1: When did you realize the term transgender referred to you?
I realized transgender meant me when I was a first-year in college. Before then I hadn’t had any trans role models. I kind of knew what it meant, but in a “man in a woman’s body” sort of way. I felt like me, that it was my body, and I didn’t feel like a person living inside someone else’s body. I had been thinking that I was a boy, but I didn’t know that was the same as being trans.
In college I had a lot of friends who’d come out as trans, and also a lot of genderfluid/genderqueer/non-binary friends. It was a lot easier for me to think of myself as “not a woman” first. I was going with genderqueer for a while before I figured out that man was the best word for me. (Not to say that GQ is always a transitional identity, because it totally isn’t.) But even then, ‘trans’ was a good descriptor. What I needed to get over was the idea that man is another word for rapist or child molester. I’d actually thought this sort of logic in high school: men are rapists, I am not a rapist, therefore I am not a man. It was really difficult to get over, but it was really empowering coming out of it. Because it was sort of taking ownership of my identity. Man was being redefined, from rapist to something that I am. So my being in the category of man changed the definition.
Also, I was like, 18. I was more of a child than an adult. It helped when I figured out that ‘young man’ fit me so much better than ‘man.’