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In her shoes

I had many new hopes and dreams going to a new school, but most were tainted by my dysphoria. I am Lucy, a transgender woman.

Photo: Alex Estey

I had many new hopes and dreams going to a new school, but most were tainted by my dysphoria.
I am Lucy, a transgender woman.
What defines me to many is a small part of who I really am. I was born with an anatomical sex that was incongruent with my gender identity. I always knew deep down that this was the path I had to take to find peace within myself.
For many trans people, transitioning is costly both mentally and physically. We endure almost constant harassment and teasing while also having to pay for much of the physical transition ourselves because few governments offer medical coverage.

Facts and figures
via GLAAD Transgender Resources

  • At least one transgender person is murdered each month, and several more are assaulted
  • 55 per cent of transgender youth report being physically attacked
  • One-quarter of young transgender people report having attempted suicide
  • More than half of transgender people who were harassed or assaulted in school because of their gender identity have attempted suicide

I started to transition from male to female publicly the summer before the twelfth grade. This confused many people. Media rarely covers trans people, like myself, in a positive fashion, so I have been faced with a lot of stigmatized comments.
The first year of my transition was the hardest time of my entire life. I felt like, in the attempt to discard my prior life, I was being barred from becoming who I really was.
It was difficult for me because, for a while, I dealt with bullying and harassment. That worsened my depression and anxiety. Having already attempted suicide, it was very hard for me not to give up.
Being constantly judged and hated for something I cannot change is too much. I want to be free to be who I am just like anyone else.
I moved to Halifax two months ago from the Annapolis Valley in beautiful Nova Scotia in order to attend the Foundation Year Programme at King’s.
Since being at King’s, things have been very different, but not in all ways. I still get asked a lot of awkward questions. I still feel uncomfortable using the public washrooms. I still shudder when I think about social interactions and introductions. The fear for my safety when I leave campus is still far too real.
King’s is the ideal for school for someone like myself in terms of learning and community, but it still gets tiring because I feel that there aren’t adequate measures taken to educate students and staff about how to respect marginalized people. This isn’t just about myself, but about other people also struggling for equality: the fight is the same.

How to be an ally:

  • Do not ask someone about their anatomy or how they engage in sex
  • Ask people what their preferred pronouns are — never assume
  • Stand up against transphobic remarks or jokes
  • Do not ask some- one what their “real” name is, as it voids their preferred name
  • Do not “out” (inform other people of someone’s status) without their express permission
  • Be open-minded and research so you can better grasp these issues

That said, I do feel proud to be a student here because, most of the time, I am respected and treated with dignity by both staff and students.
When I am off campus in the urban sprawl, I still face gossip, bullying, being outed, sexual harassment, death threats and the constant fear of being assaulted.
For me, these threats and fears are very real, and they all started simultaneously when I transitioned. I no longer bare the face of humankind, but am a stigmatized caricature of a fetishized and dehumanized being.
Intrusive questions, debates and hatred are now part of my life as people try to grapple with what they deem as a decision, when in reality, no one in their right frame of mind would choose hate over love.
I often watch other people have a typical university experience while I look on with jealousy. I can’t go to house parties, flirt or date because many people are very closed minded to my status and often times react very negatively and sometimes even violently.
It’s not all that way. The allies I have met on campus are absolutely wonderful and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Almost always I am treated the same as everyone else and it makes me feel so blessed that I chose King’s as my university. I hope that one day it will feel like this for me everywhere I go.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

One reply on “In her shoes”

This is incredibly inspiring. Anyone that has the courage to be themselves and stand strong in that decision is someone worth knowing and appreciating. I aspire to be as strong as you, thank you for this!

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