Growing up in a conservative household, I used to be a transphobe. Then I realized I was trans. Confusion, isolation, and self-loathing dominated the majority of my life as I lived in a world where being myself was strictly prohibited. This seems to be a common experience among many trans individuals, but it does not have to be. Being miserable should not have to be a prerequisite for being trans. Aside from being considered a worthless degenerate by a considerable percentage of the population, being transgender presents a unique and valuable human experience which society can learn a great deal from. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to break down many of the negative stereotypes I held against trans people and finally come to terms with who I was. Although I was physically isolated from others, I had never felt a greater sense of community and understanding as I educated myself on these issues and separated myself from toxic influences. I now want to make it my purpose in life to help others accept themselves and come to discover what I had, which include the following:
1. No human being is inherently more valuable than any other human being. Our identities are completely made up of either biological or environmental factors, neither of which we have any control over. Because of this, it is unfair to place blame on anyone for any reason. That does not mean that you can excuse certain toxic behaviors in people, but it means that you can understand them and choose to help rather than punish or fight.
2. A person's identity lies within their brain, not their body. However, our bodies do have a great effect on our brains as they control how we see ourselves and how others see us. There is nothing wrong with changing the way in which we present ourselves if it greatly improves our mental health. Looks say nothing about who a person truly is, but it is almost impossible for everyone to completely eliminate the assumptions they make based on appearance.
3. It is hard to find what we are truly passionate about when we spend our lives chasing certain labels. Labels are incredibly important as they create a sense of community, but they need to be more inclusive. From a young age, we have an innate sense of who we are even before we are poisoned by environmental influences.
I had spent my life chasing labels that were often associated with masculinity, such as “athletic” and “analytical”. I truly do enjoy being both, but feeling pressured to prove myself in these areas in order to be seen as more masculine becomes harmful as I realized that people will never see me in the same way that I see myself. I did not escape one box just to be shoved into another. Chasing these labels also led me to choose activities that I only enjoyed because they changed the way in which I was perceived. I began my first semester in college as a mechanical engineering major until I realized that I only chose the major for the badass aesthetic of being a “woman” in STEM who makes more money than most men. Personally, I do not wake up every morning excited to design and perform calculations on various systems, but others do. However, I am enthusiastic about the diverse ways in which humans experience reality and putting together the great puzzle that is each human being. I do not want anybody to feel the same way as I did before I had the language to explain who I was. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable within their own skin. My journey is only beginning but I am so fortunate to live in a society that is gradually becoming more accepting and to finally discover a community of people who share very similar experiences.