Welcome to Carolina

July 17, 2011

1) My first week of college, I fell in love.  I mean the hard kind.  I met a girl at orientation, who just happened to be living in the same dorm, who just happened to be moving in at the same time, who just happened to need some help getting all of her stuff on the elevator, so I just happened to be there willing to help, and we just happened to become friends, which progressed to sex, which progressed to dating, which eventually led to love.  We were best friends and we were lovers and we were inseparable.

2)  I changed my entire physical appearance. I had been threatening my parents for years that I would cut my hair off and pierce my lip and that is EXACTLY what I did. AND to make matters worse, I waited until UNC’s parents weekend to do it.  They came up for a football game and while they were getting lunch I had a make-over.  I don’t have exact photos from that day, but basically the transformation looked something like this:

TA-DA!!

 3) My little sibling came out to my parents.  Erin had been dabbling with gender for a year or so and once I moved out they decided to tell my parents that they were questioning their gender identity and sexual orientation.  My parents initial reaction was to blame me, I was obviously encouraging and influencing and “recruiting” Erin to the dark side, and my parents were adamantly accusing me.  Not only did this upset me, but it upset Erin, because now Erin felt guilty for the way my parents were treating me.  It was a sticky situation because I no longer lived at home, I was finding it difficult to support Erin from far away, and Erin internalized all of the bad things my parents were saying about me and took on this immense burden.  It has been almost three years since Erin has come out (and six for me) and I feel like my parents are still waiting for us to get over this “phase”.

4) I met my first transperson.  I had started to go to LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) meetings on campus so that I could meet other people like me and form a supportive community for the rest of my time at Carolina, and that’s when I first realized that transpeople actually do exist.  I guess I thought that the “T” part of the acronym was there just to be inclusive because, to my knowledge, transpeople were a myth.  I thought that a transgendered person is the same thing as a drag queen/king (THIS IS VERY FALSE), that transpeople were only found in Discovery Health documentaries, and that all transgendered people were MtF (male to female).  I literally had NO idea that transmen existed and that they lived all around me in my everyday life.

5) So I researched.  This was the first thing I found: http://www.youtube.com/user/skylarkeleven#p/u/50/uWD6AUOacfI.  I cried for hours.  I watched it over and over and over and I am probably solely responsible for at least half of all the YouTube hits its gotten, I still watch it every now and then.  Watching this video makes me excited.  Excited about the possibilities of transition, excited that there are other people I can relate to, excited that my voice will drop in 3 months, excited that I’m going to look very different, and mostly excited that there are people who exist, just like me, and they survive, and they are happy, and they are healthy, and they are beautiful.

6) Immediately after watching that video I knew I could no longer call myself a lesbian.  But I wasn’t sure that I was transgendered either.  I mean, that’s a BIG DEAL to just watch a YouTube video and decide that you want to transition for life.  So I tried this period of time where I didn’t identify as anything.  My girlfriend called me nicknames instead of my birth name (because my birth name made me feel more feminine than I was comfortable with at the time), when people would ask me how I identified I would reply, “I don’t”, and when people would assume I was a lesbian I would tell them that I wasn’t (which was confusing for some because I was obviously a girl dating a girl….WRONG) .  It was very hard for me not to identify.  I had been relying on my sexual orientation for so long to tell me who I was interested in, who I should be hanging out with, what kind of parties and clubs I should be going to, what kind of clothes I should be wearing, and so to just not identify made me feel like I was lost.  I didn’t know who I was or what I liked but I knew for sure that I was growing increasingly upset when people assumed I was a lesbian.

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