Looking at me you wouldn’t be able to guess that I am a minority. A white female between the age of 18-35 living in Central Minnesota. In fact, I am part of a minority that is still legal to discriminate against. There may be laws protecting transgendered people, but they do not protect those who have not yet acquired sexual reassignment surgery and are considered lax at best. There is no way to prove discrimination against me if I am refused work because of who I am, and it is not considered a hate crime to beat me because of who I am. Like one in every couple thousand of people, I am transgendered.
I was born in the Little Falls hospital and my birth certificate says 7 lbs 6oz, Female. Despite having been born biologically female, my whole life I knew that this was wrong. As a child I was frequently bullied because I was very meek, but generally I got along well with both boys and girls. When I got older and everyone around me and myself began puberty the differences between boys and girls became terribly evident and I knew that my body was changing the way it shouldn’t have. Instead of my voice getting deeper and muscles developing, I began bleeding and my chest started swelling. I was revolted with myself. I found myself growing increasingly depressed every time I was called “she” and discovered how little I had in common with the girls around me. I wanted badly to be “one of the guys” when in the company of my male friends despite my best efforts to fit in, I was always treated like a girl.
Having never heard of transgendered people before, I kept my feelings hidden. I grew up with a very Conservative, Christian family and was denied any knowledge of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. Only when my best friend in Middle School told me that she was bisexual did I start thinking that maybe my feelings were legitimate. Throughout High School, I discovered that in fact I knew a number of gay and bisexual people and eventually felt that I would be accepted. In the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I came out as transgendered to my peers. The fellow gay and bisexual students who learned of my being transgendered were fearful that not only would I be in danger, but that they would be put in danger as well because transgendered people are an unheard of concept in rural Minnesota. My coming out bonded the LGBT people of the school together to protect each other and report any negative incidents to prevent danger.
I was intrigued at the reactions I got after my coming out. When I told my best friend, she was not surprised. She told me, I always figured something like that. Turns out nobody was really surprised, which confused me because when I was hiding my identity I tried my best to be a girl. Maybe I failed so profoundly at it that my friends knew it was a façade. Most people treated it as though it were no more interesting than the fact that I have brown eyes. Not that people disbelieved me, it just wasn’t a big deal despite my condition being so incredibly rare. I like it that way. I don’t want to be treated differently, just be treated like a guy.
Of course, I was met with some amount of ignorance, but it was merely ignorance that comes from a lack of information regarding transgendered people and I took no offense to it. Many people insisted on referring to me as a “she” despite my insistence to be called “he”. Only on two occasions has anyone been hostile or even rude to me because of my gender identity, but neither of those people were even from Little Falls. This fact made me think very deeply about the people in this community. As anyone who has spent time in Little Falls would know, we are not a very diverse community. This is a heavily conservative Catholic community with an incredibly surprising tolerance for the LGBT community.
Though my coming out to my peers went more smoothly than most anyone can imagine, I still struggle with fear of coming out publicly which is why I am writing anonymously. I fear for my significant other who would likely be disowned if discovered that he has a relationship with another man. I fear for my parents being accused of failing to raise me as a “normal” girl. And I fear the life changing results of transitioning from woman to man.
Doing research on the history of transgender issues and rights would show tragic stories about men and women like myself, men and women who were born the sex the didn’t belong, being violently beaten and killed. For someone who is not transgendered it is impossible to understand the feelings that come with being in the wrong body and the incredible persecution and suffering we face. No matter what I say, no matter what I have to go through, there will be people who refuse to believe that my feelings are real. While so far I have mostly received acceptance, there will always be people who think I am wrong. I can’t stop people from feeling this way, nor do I think I can.
My only hope is that when I get out into the world, go to college, start a career, and fully transition from woman to man, that I will have the same amount of acceptance that I got from this amazing city. I love Morrison County and the people residing within it. I hope for people to become aware that people like me have real feelings and deal with serious problems. The number of transgendered people who deal with suicidal feelings and drug addiction is astronomical, with at least 50% of transgendered people attempting suicide by their 20th birthday, and the root of these problems comes from feeling the need to escape the bodies they hate living in. You don’t have to understand, approve of, or even believe what transgendered people feel. All we want is for people to accept that our feelings are real, and that we are just as human as the rest of the world.
This is what it is like being transgendered in Morrison County, Minnesota.