SERIES: Being transgender in college

Photo courtesy of Signature Reads

DISCLAIMER: I am only writing on behalf of myself and my own trans identity. There is no right or wrong way to “be” trans; no two trans people have experienced their gender expression the same way because of class, financial issues, family support and countless factors that I don’t have the expertise to answer because of my own White/”passing as not-trans” privilege. If you have questions on gender identities, see Kelsey O’Neil (they/them) in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

This is the first of a three-part series where I cover issues I’ve personally faced as a pre-transitioning, gay trans guy at Xavier. My first issue will cover a mix of positive and negative experiences, emotions and realities that I have personally faced in my collegiate life.

Pro #1: Being you. The ability to know who you are or to know there are aspects of your personality that need further questioning and exploration shouldn’t be taken for granted. Overcoming years of my own self-doubt (combined with the infinite expectations from my family/society/myself that prevented my own self growth and self-care for years) is still a daily struggle. While it feels like a never-ending journey to become me, the process of growing from nothing takes time and will be worth it in the long run.

Con #1: People police. Most people don’t enjoy going out of their comfort zones. Gender is definitely not an exception. I’ve had countless friends, family members and other trans/queer people deny my existence and tell me that I’m insane to my face or that me being comfortable with my femininity (both in personality and in appearance) means I’ll never be “a real guy.” My (trans) coming out has raised more questions about my vagina than even I’m comfortable with. It is a reality that many people assume they have the right to ask trans/genderqueer people personal questions they would never ask someone they didn’t think was trans, but it shouldn’t have to be my reality when I’m trying to get a coffee at 10 a.m.

Pro #2: Transitioning. Not every trans person needs to transition to be themselves. However, some (like me!) need to in order to be their most authentic selves. I’m so overcome with joy knowing I’m putting myself before my own fears and insecurities. Every video of a trans guy who’s gone through similar emotions before testosterone therapy gives me a sense of self-worth I have never experienced before.

Con #2: Transitioning. It is expensive to transition, financially, emotionally, socially and mentally. Coming to terms with the fact that I must begin testosterone hormone therapy to be fully myself and save my mental health with regard to my extreme gender-dysphoria is an on-and-off struggle. The process for female-to-male people like myself takes years. I’m barely out to my own family, and my mom and little sister refuse to accept it. I don’t look/”pass” as male and am still waiting to begin testosterone this month, so I’m not open to anyone on campus who doesn’t read Newswire! Even with the multitude of negative possibilities and reactions, knowing this is a part of my future keeps me going with my head high.

This article was the easiest and hardest time I’ve ever written about my life. Being transgender and experiencing self-love combined with self-disgust and confusion is an ongoing process. I’m planting the seeds of my future in the ground and feel nothing but peace in this chronic process of blooming into my authentic body.

Toni Carlotta is a junior communication studies major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.