It’s Trans Awareness week, the time of year dedicated to the celebration of trans lives, in the lead up to Transgender Day of Remembrance, which memorializes victims of transphobic violence.
As a trans woman who’s been sharing her life publicly since 2016, I aim to uplift my community while bringing awareness to the joy trans people feel when treated with acceptance, respect, and human rights. I feel it’s my duty to help educate cis-het audiences in understanding transgender people better, as a way to keep the needle moving forward toward transgender equality.
As a trans Bride-to-Be, I’m proving that trans people can be in happy, healthy, loving relationships – and with partners who are cisgender and heterosexual (if we want to be). But I wasn’t always out, and it took me years to meet the true love of my life.
After I transitioned in high school, and became the world’s 1st transgender prom queen, I decided to live stealth in order to feel safe in college and the years beyond. When Caitlyn Jenner came out, I knew it was time to tell my story to the world. Caitlyn became the go-to example to associate transness with. I realized the importance of showing people a different side to being trans; one where we’re supported from a young age, and if given the opportunity to transition safely, can become successful in all facets of life.
I had the privilege of receiving help from my family, friends, and therapist when I transitioned. It was empowering to have ability to make my own decisions about my body by going on hormone blockers to stop male puberty, and then estrogen a year later to go through female puberty. The cherry on top was a smoother transition process, and the results were everything I dreamed of and more.
With awareness and support of our community growing, the number of people trying to take us down grows too. I’m the proof as to why it’s crucial that hateful anti-trans laws don’t continue to pass in this country, as the best way to transition healthily is by doing so with the correct care plan, guided by the right medical and mental health professionals.
I’ve told my story openly for 7 years now, and in the last two, I met and fell in love with my hubby-to-be, Lyle! We’re getting married next June 2024 in Chicago, and I couldn’t be happier. Before I met him, he had never knowingly interacted with a trans person before; and neither had his family. (This is the case for the majority of people. A 2016 study concluded 71% of the US population hadn’t knowingly interacted with a trans person before. That number has since increased. In 2021, a survey concluded that 42% of Americans know a trans person, but most still don’t understand them.)
Meeting Lyle has been one of the best things to happen to me. In November 2021, I was at a party when Lyle photobombed my mirror selfie. We got to talking, and after our first kiss, made plans to see each other again. We closed out the restaurant on our first date because we couldn’t stop talking. On our second date, I told him I was transgender, and he immediately accepted me and made me feel comfortable. He didn’t ask any of the rude or silly questions most other guys do when I tell them. We continued to date and grow our relationship. My love for Lyle grew even more when I met his family, who were immediately accepting of me and of our relationship, which in itself is a dream come true.
When Lyle’s brother Ray had first started questioning their identity years ago, and expressed it to a close-family member, it wasn’t met with the warmest reaction. But now, after meeting and getting to know me, said family member supports Ray completely. This is the perfect example of why awareness and being visible is so important– it can literally change people, and their families and friends lives, for the better!
When I transitioned, only a few hundred thousand people were documented identifying as transgender. Depending on where you look, between 1.6 million – 2.6 million adults identify as transgender in 2023. It’s safe to say, trans people aren’t going to just go away; and I think it’s safe to say this number would increase exponentially if there was more openness to the community.
The way to move forward is by being visible, and making people aware of us by living our lives authentically and not being ashamed of it. Given that children are our future, the more visible trans people are now, the more awareness is created; trans kids will be better able to self-identify, and hopefully receive the appropriate care earlier on, leading to a more fulfilled life. Awareness can be achieved just by being and living your true self out loud. It is possible to find safety in partners who will celebrate, love, and support us; but above all, I want people to become aware that love, any kind of it, for the trans community is possible.