This is a series thoughts in my attempt to process a meeting at work where we discussed trans people and students in such an abstract way that I felt invisible.
To be trans is to be traumatized.
To come out is to choose authenticity but also to choose more trauma — not because you want it but because it is inevitable. When I am in public I am afraid of “looking too trans”. I am afraid of what people will say to me. I am afraid of what people will do to me. I am afraid that I only have myself to rely on or protect me. I feel alone.
This violence has never happened to me. But it happens to people like me, for being people like me, every day. I have accepted that I will face people who hate me before we have even met. I have accepted that because I need to in order to survive.
Part of coming out for many people is sharing your new name. Names hold power. To be trans is to take that power back. To fully attempt the human super power of self definition.
There is so much in changing a name or pronouns.
It is not a small or a quick decision.
It is a decision filled with anxiety and pain and stress. Asking for this change is an incredibly difficult step for a student to take. It is one that is not taken without a tremendous amount of thought and consideration. To choose to come out as trans is to choose to have to prove that you know yourself better than anyone else does, to a judge to a doctor to a school. And to have to prove that over and over and over.
And to, after all this pain and anguish and celebration of making it to the moment of living in truth, be told that the “official record” is more important than your lived experience is detrimental to someone’s sense of self and belonging.
A document with name your parents chose before they even met you is somehow more official than one that you labored over and tested and changed and finally found something that made you feel whole. I don’t understand.
To choose to dead name someone is to tell someone that you don’t care about the pain and trauma and bravery and hatred and joy that got them to this point. It is to say that your comfort is more important than this person’s personhood. We cannot do that to students.