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LGBTQ Voices

How I Don’t Let Others Define Me With Labels

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Author casually posing with one hand on her hip and other by her side, in a red dress, in front of a wall supporting P&G and #BFF2017
Greenville, NY

When I was a little kid, I always knew I was different. I didn’t know how to label it. So I just figured I was who I was and left it at that.

It wasn’t until fifth grade, when kids started to make fun of me and call me ‘gay’ that I realized just how much I stood out from the rest. The attribution those kids gave me during those early year forged my early ideas about what I thought I was.

Since everyone thought I was gay, and I acted effeminately and felt attracted to boys, I just assumed they were right. It wasn’t until college that I realized the ‘gay’ label just wasn’t right for me.

I met people that identified outside of the gay/straight, male/female system of constructs. People who called themselves ‘trans’ and ‘queer’ and other labels I had never heard of before. And, I realized that I fit better with those labels than the ones given to me by my fifth-grade peers.

Coming out to my family and friends was a fearful process. I was concerned with letting them down, and afraid of being rejected for who I am. But over time, I was able to tell people who I really am.

With the help of a supporting circle of friends and family—and an equally supporting LGBTQ community— I was able to accept being different. And, I even feel empowered to wear my identity on my sleeve.

Currently, I identify as a trans/queer individual. This label’s always subject to change as I learn more about myself and what kinds of labels best fit me.

Four years ago, Laverne Cox was featured on the cover of TIME magazine next to the words, ‘The Transgender Tipping Point.’ While the title was not entirely accurate, the trans community is better off than it was a couple years ago. Particularly, in terms of how our stories are being presented.

The media is increasingly allowing for trans people to tell their stories in their own words. Creating an authenticity that just isn’t there when we’re talked about through the lens of heteronormality. While I don’t think we’ve reached a tipping point just yet, I am proud that the LGBTQ community is on the right path to receiving the acceptance we deserve.