Coming Out as Transgender: The Story of Logan
In light of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Logan (19) shared with us her intimate story on the process and struggles of coming out as transgender.
A dark past
Gwen Araujo was a 17-year-old transgender American Latina who, on October 3rd, 2002, was brutally murdered by a group of four men. After two of the men discovered she was transgender, they proceeded to use extreme violence in a targeted assault on her life. Gwen was beaten and strangled to death, an event that left a painful scar on the LGBTQ community.
Gwen grew up in Newark, California, the same place where Logan grew up in. In memory of Gwen, and all the others who came before and after her, Logan strives to educate people on transgender-related topics. She aims to spread awareness about the struggles of the community and open doors for people who are going through similar situations.
The case of Gwen is not a unique one, and yearly dozens of transgender people are murdered as the result of transphobia. In light of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day on which we memorialize those who have been murdered for being transgender, Logan shared with us her intimate story on the process and struggles of what it’s really like being transgender in the United States.
As a toddler, Logan was very feminine and enjoyed dressing up and playing with dolls. Her parents were always very flexible with this, and it never really posed a problem. This changed when she started elementary school, “There was this one instance where I came to school with pink nail polish and one of my friends pointed it out, and then all the children in my class became aware of it.” The times of innocently playing with ‘girl toys’ and freely expressing her gender were over. Logan had to fit the social norms in order to pass for what was accepted from ‘boys’.
“Slowly but surely I started backtracking everything: who I played with, what I played with, what I wore. And I became very conscious of my thoughts, actions, and words, and the effects it would have on me and the people around me.” For years Logan was struggling with passing for what society expected her to be like and look like, “I tried to be as masculine as possible, play that role of a perfect son.”
It all became much more complicated when puberty hit. Being ‘masculine’ and fitting the gender binary felt no longer right, “It felt like a downward spiral every day and I didn’t know when I would hit rock bottom.” These anxieties around self-expression and being her true self came with a sense of guilt and shame, “I started taking on this guilt, feeling like I was lying to everybody about who I was. Not only was I lying about my gender, but also about my sexuality.”
This became a very isolated process because she couldn’t talk to anyone about what was really going on. This started to weigh very heavy, “The daily things that we do like getting dressed, taking a shower, going to the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, all became such challenges because they were constant reminders of what I looked like, who I was, and what I was doing with my life.” Putting up with these confrontations and staying confined in a box of societal expectations become like a mental prison. “I had to keep up this routine to please everyone around me.”
The dangers of coming out
The story of Gwen Araujo proves that coming out can put your life at risk and create very unsafe situations. Logan was very well aware of this, and coming from a family with Christian backgrounds, she knew there could be unwanted consequences to her coming out. “For a child that age, realizing that who you are is not gonna be accepted or tolerated, is frightening.”
Because of this constant scare, Logan did not just lose trust in others, she also lost the love for herself. “I was hitting that breaking point, and I started to think if maybe I should end my life.” To feel these emotions and be in the mental state that Logan was in is not uncommon for transgender people, and it is very important to understand that transitioning often comes with a lot of pain and mental struggle.
Luckily Logan realized the potential she had in herself, “Because I was feeling this way, I thought maybe I could help someone else.” She managed to turn these thoughts around and work with the cards life had dealt her, “I didn’t want my narrative to have that ending, so that’s when I decided I’m just gonna try, try to be myself.” This is when Logan decided to come out to her parents, at the age of 15. “Even though they didn’t really know what trans meant, they still accepted me, and let me take the lead about what I wanted to do with my life.”
Logan is blessed to have such accepting parents, which is by no means the ‘standard’ when it comes to families with a child transitioning. Not only did her family provide her with love and emotional support, but they also helped with getting the right medical help. Logan is very aware of this and recognizes the privileges that she holds. “Access to the medical need for all people, especially trans people, is a systematic issue in this country.”
Instead of comfortably enjoying her position of privilege, Logan devoted her time and resources to help those who are not in the same position as her. “I constantly tried to use my privilege to open the door for other people.” This entire process is to this day still very unfair and complicated, and it does not grant every person the same help.
As old as history
Often people consider transgender to be something ‘new’. Contrary, it has been around as long as people have existed. Many indigenous cultures have people that fulfill a third-gender or other gender-variant roles, such as the Mahu in Hawaii, Hijras in South Asia, or the Two-Spirit in Native Americans. These people show both masculine and feminine gender traits and have done so since the existence of their peoples. “But with the history of colonization, Christianity forced other people into their own belief system, and set standards on gender and sexuality, creating binaries that weren’t there before.”
It is important to keep this history in mind, in order to understand that being transgender is not just something ‘of this time’. This is a mindset to most people that oppose gender diversity, and it causes harmful images to the community.Embed from Getty Images
Not without challenges
Going into her sophomore year, the process of transitioning posed some practical challenges. “I came out to the school administration, to see what the situation was gonna be like.” Not having a lot (or any) transgender people in your environment can make it even more difficult to come out and get the right support from your environment. “My principal didn’t take my transitioning process or my safety as a priority.” This lack of support and resources forced Logan to take the lead and pave her own way throughout high school.
Running cross-country and track while coming out as transgender directly influenced her sports. “I had to use the gender-neutral bathroom as my locker room to change for PE or track.” Even though back in 2014 California passed laws that allowed athletes to compete as the gender that they identify with, the acceptance from other athletic teams was not always as guaranteed as the acceptance Logan received from her own team.
“When I ran it really felt like a lose-lose situation. Whenever I would win, I got the sense from my competitors that it was unfair because to them I was a man, competing against women. When I would lose, they saw it as a woman beating a man. So no matter what I did, I was always gonna be considered a man by my competitors. But I’m a woman. Even though my body at the time didn’t fit the standards of a ‘female’ body, I was and I am a woman. Whatever you identify as, is who you are.”
Logan had a large ray of support in her environment, especially from friends. However, coming out as trans and publicly transitioning is inevitably drawing in resistance and hate. “People would knock books out of my hands, shove me against the lockers, or cuss me out. I always just kept my head down, trying to not give people any reason to verbally or physically attack me.” And it is not just violence and abuse, Logan also had to deal with ‘curiosity’ and ignorance. “I kept getting the same kind of questions, of which a lot are very intrusive, about my genitalia or my sexuality. It’s just nobody’s business.”
Throughout high school, Logan was a very active student and participated in several extracurricular activities. Whereas she could have chosen to only focus on school and her own personal journey, Logan decided to be active in the community and put effort into educating people on transgender. She put together the ‘Trans Presentation’, an assembly in which she educates classes on the trans community, identity, and history. “I really saw a positive outcome from it, a lot of people started coming out to me, and a lot of more people wanted to become allies to the queer community.” From this, Logan created an LGBTQ support group, which serves as a safe space for those who need it.
These changes that Logan implemented in her school, and even other schools in the area, made a huge difference to the community. “Although you could still hear ignorant and hurtful messages in school, they were definitely not as prevalent as before, people were more mindful of the things they said.” Logan tried to continue these changes to the other communities she was active in, especially sports. “Athletics seems to have a very toxic masculine culture around it, and I tried to transform that in a certain way.”
Transitioning, contrary to what most people believe, is not merely the process of changing your appearance or getting hormone therapy. Transitioning is something that is an ongoing process throughout your whole life. These people often refer to the ‘medical transition’, the process in which an individual undergoes medical procedures/hormone therapy, so that their sex characteristics better match their gender identity. This is for most people a very expensive process, often unaffordable. Luckily Logan was in a position to get the right medical help.
Through the family insurance plan, Logan managed to petition to undergo gender operations underage, whereas the set minimum age by the insurance company was 18 years old. “There was a lot of hesitancy by the health care provider, and many people had an opinion on this decision. But in my opinion, it’s my body and my choice.”
“Because I was given this opportunity to petition for the operation while being underage, I had this pressure of being the perfect candidate.” This put a lot of pressure on Logan as she opened doors for other transgender teens who also wish to undergo these operations underage. These operations were also not the easiest procedures, “The operations came with life-threatening complications, and it was one of those situations where it’s one in a million, and I happened to be the one.” Medically transitioning is physically and emotionally a very exhausting process, and as was the case for Logan, it can put your life in danger.
Towards a brighter future
It seems that bad is always followed by good, and over time things turned a little brighter for Logan. When she returned to high school, she was voted president and homecoming queen. “It felt like it had come full circle from four years ago. Coming from the history of Gwen Araujo in my town, to where we are now.” However, there is still a lot of work to do. “In every sector of society, we still need to improve trans rights.”
If you yourself, or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (USA). For a list of national suicide prevention lines for each country, click here.
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This article is a condensed version of my bachelor thesis, where conceptualized transphobic narratives to explain h… https://t.co/eABu6QqjPGFollow