So I have always wondered what Transgender really means and how that whole process comes about… I know for a lot of people it is difficult to understand the things that trans people go through because people who are not trans, have not gone through it. And many have either little or no knowledge about them at all. They are seen as the unicorns of society. YES people, they exist, they are breathing humans and they are people just like you and me. I have had multiple conversations with people my age and even older about trans people and how they just don’t understand.
WELLLL I decided to try and help. I interviewed a trans male (meaning that he was a she, got it?), Randolph student Shane Collins, the other day to get some answers to maybe help people understand.
Photo courtesy of Shane Collins. Pic 1, 2yrs old. Pic 2, 19 yrs old. Pic 3, 23 yrs old and present day.
ME: What do people in the Trans community like to be addressed as “Transgender” or “Transsexual?”
SC: “A lot of people don’t like the term transsexual because they feel it’s more of a derogatory term, whereas transgender is a more up to date and modern term.”
ME: What is your definition of “transgender?”
SC: “Someone that doesn’t identify with their own biological sex and decides to change/transition/ or modify themselves into the opposite gender.”
ME: Is it hard to explain this to people?
SC: “Yes, a lot of people think transgender people are a joke because some people just think it’s like.. “ I wake up, I feel like a boy today… but yesterday I felt like a girl” it’s not an on and off switch. In a way yes you wake up and you feel different, but it’s a gradual process and the realization comes with the waking up one day and then finally putting a name to it.”
ME: When did you first realize or start to realize that something was different?
SC: “When I was little, 5 or 6. I had long hair and then my mom cut it off, really short because it was easier to deal with… She had 2 girls. So when we would be in the store, people would say “oh what a cute boy you have” and it was weird because I wouldn’t get like really happy, but I had this spark of emotion, that wasn’t a negative one. From then on I noticed being into the more boy-ish things. I had race car toys, played with all the boys, and didn’t have many girlfriends. When I played Barbie and I had a girlfriend with me, I would make her be Barbie because I wanted to be Ken. I looked and acted like a little boy. And from then on, I just kept with it and finally when I was 21, I learned about and decided to go through with the transition process.”
ME: How did you end up putting a name to your feelings?
SC: “I heard the word ‘transgender’ for the first time when a friend of mine came out to me as trans. Not fully understanding, I did my own research and it ended up fitting the way I feel. It really helped knowing someone else.”
ME: What is something that is Important, that YOU want people to know?
SC: “Being Trans is not ‘just a phase’. it’s a very hard decision to go through. It’s an even deeper process for the person going through the actual transitions. And if they don’t end up going through the full transition, it’s not because they “don’t feel different” anymore, it’s for deeper reasons like comfortability in society, safety, etc. I really want people to be educated about it! I want people to know and understand that the T in LGBT means something. We are not mythical creatures, Trans people exist”
I hope that this has helped some of you understand a little more, with all the talk that’s been in the media lately.