Disclaimer: I am only writing from my own experiences as a proudly out trans person on a fairly conservative college campus. This doesn’t reflect the feelings or experiences of every single trans person. If you have questions on transgender identities, see Maria Merill in the Center for Diversity Inclusion on the second floor of Gallagher Student Center.
Loving who you are unconditionally can be a daunting task for any individual, regardless of human experiences or labels. It can definitely feel impossible when you’re trans, especially in an environment when seeing others who share your identity seems few and far between.
As a senior who’s in a pretty public transition (as of this article, I’m five months and three weeks on testosterone, which is a pretty big deal for me), it is extremely difficult to act as if self-love and self-acceptance are skills someone can learn overnight. Some days it’s a struggle dealing with the increasing amount of stares walking to class in the morning.
Don’t even get me started with the creepy questions on what I plan on doing with my body from complete strangers and family alike. Some days, a part of me wishes I never came out as trans because “being a girl” to please everyone else in my life was so much easier than this. Even then, “this” is me being honest with my own feelings about my identity and what I need to do in order to fully become the person I know exists within me.
There’s an infinite amount of self-growth I need to do in order to fully come to terms with my identity. A key step for self-growth, in my personal opinion, is self-acceptance. \
Specifically for us trans individuals, it is learning to accept our identities despite society and family screaming at us to hate ourselves, to change for their comfort and personal expectations, every single day.
It is a journey I’m truly privileged to take because so many trans lives have been silenced or forced to hide simply out of blind hatred and ignorance aimed at trans lives that don’t need to continue existing in 2018.
Erasing decades of internalized transphobia isn’t simple. Trust me, I’m still in the beginning of it, and I’m already mentally exhausted. It’s a daily struggle to look at who you are and give yourself a compliment instead of a critique when it feels as if no one has gone through what you have (sounds very 2007-emo, but it’s the truth).
Loving who you are starts with acknowledging that you deserve to experience respect by your fellow man and, most importantly, yourself.
Leaving the safety and security of “being a girl” in the eyes of the world was, is, and will most likely be the most difficult thing I’ve done. But it’s also the thing I’m most proud of doing. Despite having a family that is rarely understanding of my FTM (female-to-male) transition, and despite the long pauses I get when strangers see my pathetic excuse for a mustache, I am OK with it.
I’m finally at a point where I’m fairly comfortable enough in my own skin. Not every day, but it’s still a big start on a rocky road I’m slowly but surely figuring out along the way.
Toni Carlotta is a senior communications major and a staff writer for the Newswire. He is a native of Cincinnati.