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Ursa Major Monthly

Transgender teens speak

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Transgender teens speak

Trans teen wears the transgender flag on his wrist; photo by Vincent Garza

Trans teen wears the transgender flag on his wrist; photo by Vincent Garza

Trans teen wears the transgender flag on his wrist; photo by Vincent Garza

Trans teen wears the transgender flag on his wrist; photo by Vincent Garza

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by Vincent Garza

You have been male your entire life. When you go to McDonald’s, you ask for the boy toys and nobody questions it; not until you get to school, at least. The teacher calls on you using the name given to them on the roster: the opposite gender name that does not represent you. First impressions stick and now your peers call you by the wrong name too. Correcting them can lead to a conversation you are tired of having, one which can be humiliating and might not even end with corrections made. They do not seem to realize just how much this hurts, how much it angers you, how confused you are about why someone would not call you the name and pronouns you are.

That is the everyday life of a transgender student. 30 percent of trans youth have attempted suicide and 42 percent reportedly self-harm, according to The Williams Institute. This is due to lack of self-esteem and self-worth that come with not being accepted at school.

Transgender youth have struggled with gender identity for many years.

During the American Civil War, at least 240 people assigned female at birth are known to have worn what was traditionally men’s clothing and fought as soldiers. Many may have worn men’s clothes because they were not allowed to fight otherwise and this was their only means of participating in the war effort. They fought and supported a country which refused to fight and support them. Some of them were transgender and continued to live as men throughout their lives.

Albert Cashier is a prime example of a transgender soldier who fought from 1861-1865. Cashier was an Irish immigrant who served in the Union army during the American Civil War. He was a Private who served in 95th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Company G, 1st United States Sharpshooters; both of which dealt with infantry.

With this, being transgender is not any old news and teens struggle with being misnamed/misgendered universally.

When asked the question “what name do you prefer,” trans kids are faced with the decision between outing themselves and facing possible discrimination, or, forcing themselves to go by the name given at birth, which is more often times than not, not preferred. This causes dysphoria which is an uncomfortable disconnect of body to mind. Dysphoria also brings anxiety, depression, and leads to social isolation.

“It makes me feel embarrassed and I don’t like correcting teachers because they, and students, will treat you differently,” Junior Karl Gonzalez stated.

Most transgender students go to their friends for acceptance because many teachers or adults do not show respect for their identity.

“My friends accept me more than my parents or teachers do,” Gonzalez added.

Trans teens also face not being taken seriously. There is a stigma that being trans is a phase and something the internet made up. Teenager’s identities are being downgraded as a fad and are being made out as jokes simply because they are different.

“Most of my friends accepted it, others just ignored me, but I really don’t mind because knowing that there are some people who support me, is enough,” Junior Shane Mendieta said.  

Many transgender students feel their classroom setting is not respectful and motivating due to their teachers not regarding their preferred pronoun/name.

“For lack of a better word, it makes me feel like garbage. Like I’m not being taken seriously in an environment that’s intended to be professional and mutually nurturing,” Junior trans-man Ruben Adkins said. ”And, yeah, it absolutely affects my performance both in behavior and academics.”

Trans students feel disrespected when their identities are not taken seriously.

“It’s like constantly calling a teacher by their first name even if they asked you not to do that,” Adkins said.

In the end, transgender people have been around for hundreds of years and they are not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. They have and will exist despite the discrimination and depression. Even if being trans means harassment and suffering through people who disrespect them, they cannot change who they are.

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Transgender teens speak