A wave of acceptance, understanding, and exposure of the trans community has made room for countless individuals to begin expressing their personal gender identities in a way that aligns with their most true self. Although strides have been made, there is still a long way to go for many issues faced by this community. Because I personally am cis-gender, there is no way for me to produce credible information on this topic based on personal experience alone.
So I got help from a friend.
One of my very best guy friends, Chase, is lots of things. He’s a talented actor, a fencer, a writer, an artist, a violin player, and so much more! He also happens to be trans, or as he likes to say, “a dude on a gender adventure.”
Chase so graciously and enthusiastically allowed me to interview him on his personal experience with self discovery, claiming his identity, and his life as a transgender person.
I started off the interview focusing on the beginning of his “gender adventure” with a question.
When did you first encounter the term transgender and what was your reaction? Did you immediately identify with it or was it a later realization?
Chase went on to tell me that he had first learned of the term while watching a documentary about a young transgender girl. “I was jealous of her” he explained, “but i thought ‘why? I’m already a girl'”. Later he came to realize that both boys and girls could be trans. He thought back and his only memory was just thinking “…oh.”
I followed up my question with another.
Did you have any insecurities about your identity when you realized?
“Yes. Heck yes!” he exclaimed before I had hardly finished my question. “I thought it was influenced by the fact that I was binge watching transgender documentaries so I went on a documentary diet. But the feeling didn’t go away.” Chase went on to explain that instead of accepting his identity he attempted to “bargain with himself” telling himself that it would be easier for him to just be “a girl that wears guys clothes”. Eventually, he realized that in order for him to be happy, he needed to come to terms with who he was as a person.
Chase and I go way back. We’ve been friends even since before he began his journey to gender discovery. When Chase finally did decide to come out, I had the honor of being one of the first to know. Although I was able to witness firsthand Chase’s process of coming out and beginning his transition, there were still some questions I had that we had never discussed before.
What made you decide to come out?
After a brief pause, Chase began, “I honestly just couldn’t stand keeping it in and I knew things weren’t going to get better”, “my friends were really supportive and many of them had come out themselves.” Having clear support from his friends and family was key to a steady beginning of his transition. Going along with our chatter about the “good old days”, I followed up by asking him about how he first decided to start presenting himself in a way that aligned with his identity. “I’m not the most masculine guy” he responded, “after I came out I didn’t want to cut my hair; I wanted to wear makeup and a dress for homecoming. Overtime, I’ve cut my hair and started wearing guy clothes. I’m becoming more traditionally masculine as time goes on.”
I wrapped up our discussion on his experience coming out by asking him in what ways his life has changed positively since coming out. Chase told me that one of the most positively impacting aspects of being out was his ability to be a member of a trans support group for other transgender youth. “They just get it.” Another positive aspect he expressed was being called by a male name and he/him pronouns in public and being addressed as a male.
But of course, Chase being Chase wrapped up my question with a bit of humor. “Now I’m on the road to having a rad beard”, he exclaimed, “That’s really the goal, having a rad beard. I’m gonna braid it.”
Of course, not all aspects of coming out are just rainbows and butterflies. Chase let me into some of the more negative parts of being out as a transgender teenager. “Misgendering sucks because it’s more embarassing now”, he explained, “People around me know I’m trans so it’s more awkward now.” Before Chase mentioned this, I wasn’t aware of how upsetting misgendering can be to people like himself because I had never had to experience it firsthand. His openness gave me real insight into the issue.
The interview came to a close with my final question. What are some common misconceptions about being trans, and what would you like people to know about the trans community?
“People think its a choice or a trend”, “If I hear the term trans-‘trender’ one more time I’m going to have to resist punching them in the teeth”, Chase chuckled. Although he was able to express his discontent in a humorous manner, I could tell that this insensitive slang was truly hurtful to him.
Another misconception held by many individuals who are not part of the transgender community is that all trans people are straight. “They just assume I’m straight and I’m like, ding dong you’re wrong”, Chase exclaimed with laughter. He followed up with a metaphor, “Sexuality is a myth and labels are for cans. I don’t even know what I am.”
Chase ended the interview with a very important reminder for all of us. “We’re just people. We have our interests. Some of us are scumbags, some of us are angels. We’re no different from anyone else in the sense that every one of us is different.” As Chase departed from our talk, he wanted to remind everyone to have “a rad day” and his hopes are that through sharing his experience, he can help others going through similar situations.
I’d like to thank Chase for allowing me to have an inside look into his experience with gender identity and giving me, and my readers, the opportunity to learn more about transgender individuals. Although Chase is only one person and can only speak for himself, I believe his story can be valuable for people in all different circumstances.
Until next post,