Aiden, in his own words:“Identifying as queer means being open minded and connecting with people from all over the world without ruling anyone out because of gender or gender identity.
This will out me to a *huge* amount of people but I feel like it’s time to let that fear go: Being trans is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve ever had at this point in my life. It’s excluded me from some people’s lives, opened me up to others and people who love me for who I am, of course. I’ve faced a lot of rejection when I’ve told people I am trans, especially in the dating scene since I’ve been told they had no idea I was trans. My rule has been if there is a possibility that pants are coming off at some point then I disclose, otherwise I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, haha.
Portland seems like such a small place and people are very tight knit. It’s been a great boost to my confidence to meet such great people and have such amazing friends in my life. I try my best to not become insular in any one community and love to boast about my good friends from all walks of life.
I’ve always known I was trans so I kind of feel I skipped the whole coming out process but, truth be known, I haven’t “come out” to my mom yet, which bothers me every day but if she were to reject me it would be absolutely devastating! Every time she visits I tell myself to just say the words, it’s totally obvious I’ve transitioned but she’s too polite(or scared)to bring it up. Yikes. Everyone else in my family pretty much knows by now. Maybe I’ll type up a letter and let her process it in her own way then we can talk about it. It’s been over 3 years now, just the elephant in the room, don’t mind him.
I transitioned very late out of fear of rejection by family, friends and lovers, which wasn’t an unfounded fear, by the way.
I would tell (my younger self) not to wait just to make others happy, sometimes yourself is all you really have and living in fear is not any way to live. I still need to take my own advice on this, obviously. I don’t have any regrets about transitioning and hopefully one day I will find someone to share my life with. Until then, stay romantic.
Alexander, in his own words:“Being a gay transgender man in Singapore has its challenges. When you’re younger, people don’t take you seriously. They just think you’re a ‘tomboy’ and that it’s just a phase. You have complete strangers staring at you sometimes, and your identity as a gay man who was assigned female at birth is questioned when you come out, and then dismissed as something that you’re “too young to know for sure”.
As a child, I would adamantly refuse to wear dresses and remotely ‘girly’ clothes and would cry at the idea of wearing them, but I was forced into them regardless. When introduced to my parents’ friends, I would correct my them when they told their friends I was their daughter by saying “I’m your son”. I remember being lectured by my mum when I was ten, and I was told not to call myself their son because it hurt their feelings.
My parents never brought up the subject of LGBT people, and LGBT issues weren’t discussed in school. The only source of information we had in secondary school was the internet, and at the time, mainstream media still had limited portrayal of queer people, which was largely based on stereotypes. I navigated through my early teenage years trying to conform to heteronormativity, but deep down I knew that something wasn’t right. I hated what puberty was doing to me, and each day in the shower served as a reminder that I wasn’t male. When I started being attracted to other boys, I was even more confused, but came to the conclusion that it would be easier to just try being a girl instead.
After finishing my GCE ‘O’ Levels, I was fortunate enough to cross paths with another trans man. We both worked part-time in the same restaurant and were of the same age. He came out to me one day over a text conversation, and I realised that his life growing up was very similar to mine. The only difference was that he liked girls, and I liked boys. That alone still made me question my identity, but after thinking about it for a while, I realised that if there were gay cisgender people, gay transgender people could exist too. Thrilled at how I had finally discovered my identity, I came out to my close friends and classmates in the polytechnic, but the thought of coming out to my parents and their potential rejection still frightened me. One day, I knew I had to stop hiding from them, so I came out to them that year, two days before I turned 17. Needless to say, they were shocked and distraught. They weren’t ready to accept me as their son, and they said that I was too young to know what I wanted. They still thought that it was just a phase.
Of course, the journey of transitioning still wasn’t smooth after coming out. There have been times when I felt that life as a trans man wasn’t worth living, and I had contemplated suicide. However, in the recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet people that have been so open-minded and accepting, and their support has brought me through the hard times to a better place in life. However, I know that there are trans youth out there who do not have proper support in their circle of friends, which is why I started volunteering with The Purple Alliance and helped to start a casual support group for trans* people in Singapore. It’s been almost two years since I started volunteer work, and I have grown a lot as a person in this period of time.
The LGBT community in Singapore is more diverse than one might think it is, but it is still largely segregated. When people think of LGBT rights, most tend to think about Section 377A of the penal code and marriage equality, but in reality, there is so much more work to be done. There is still discrimination within the LGBT community, and some people are still not educated on issues transgender people face. Hormones for trans people are hard to acquire and surgery is expensive and not covered by insurance. However, recently there have been more people speaking out for the transgender community. Things are changing, and as the years go by, the LGBT community will be closer to becoming one.
I recently turned 20, and looking at how far we have come as a community and how much more we can and will progress, I’m glad that I didn’t decide to end my life. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say, “Stop poking your head out of the big window and calculating how long it will take for you to hit the ground. Things will fall into place in time. You’ll witness plenty of great things in the years to come, and you will be a part of it.”
Claudia, in her own words:“Ser mujer trans significa reconocerme como persona, con derechos humanos, con autodeterminación para guiar y elegir lo que yo deseo hacer, vivir, sentir. en mi vida. Es una oportunidad de vivir la diversidad y educar, señalando que ser persona trans no es ser una persona enferma y es un camino legítimo en el que a pesar de muchas dificultades, rechazos, discriminaciones, falta de leyes que nos protegan y políticas públicas, se puede disfrutar de lo simple de la vida, siempre mirándo con un sentido de resilencia y de fortaleza el camino, a pesar de discriminaciones, falta de empleo, humillaciones y cuestionamientos por elegir un género y vivirlo. Es difícil ver una forma positiva en la transexualidad cuando la sociedad en forma completa te invisibiliza y te rechaza por ser diferente, te patologiza y te encasilla en prejuicios. Pero he aprendido a no ver lo negativo que las personas ven y siempre ver que de toda dificultad, menosprecio e intolerancia, puede nacer una oportunidad y una esperanza.
El gran error a mi juicio acerca de las personas trans, es que las personas y las ciencias médicas y de la psicología y una sociedad completa ve generalmente en el ser trans, una enfermedad psiquiátrica, porque el binarismo, la heteronormatividad, el patriarcado y la medicina nos ha hecho ver siempre como enfermos, peligrosos, desestabilizadores de las normas del género, de la sexualidad. Incluso en algunas universidades se enseña que somos enfermos mentales. Y eso no es así. Es un gran error por ello luchamos día a día aquí. Incluso la organización mundial de la salud está trabajándo para despatologizar la transexualidad. Nosotros la sociedad civil del mundo estamos exigiendo que la transexualidad deje de ser considerada una enfermedad y un trastorno mental.
Primero darme cuenta o tomar razón en mi infancia a la edad de 4 años, de que mi sentir interno mi vida, mis vivencias, mi visión de las cosas y de mi entorno y mi conexión con mis sentimientos eran claramente femeninas a pesar de haber nacido con sexo genital masculino. Ello provocaba una transgresión a mi entorno, a mis padres, a la iglesia, a la escuela. Yo en la infancia me transformaba así, en una transgresión a lo establecido, a lo normativo. Luego en mi adolescencia luchar contra los cambios físicos que se producían por la naturaleza, por los cambios hormonales masculinos y luchar contra ello marcó mi vida, pero lo logré. Tener la oportunidad de poder acceder a estudiar y gracias a mi esfuerzo poder estudiar la carrera de obstetricia y transformarme en profesional de la salud, fuerón logros importántes como mujer trans. Una golpiza por parte de hombres neonazis, casi me hace perder la vida, casi me asesinaron y me dispuso esta situación la oportunidad de recuperarme y luchar por mis derechos. Por ello me transformé en activista y luchar por mi dignidad y mi identidad de género en Chile. Luego trabajar en el sistema de salud fue muy motivador, pero lo malo era que siempre vivía la discriminación por ser una mujer trans. No ha sido nada fácil superar todo aquello, pero he sobrevivido. Hace 3 años me despidieron de un empleo en un hospital y por ser una mujer trans y nadie me daba trabajo, solamente podía sobrevivir en lo que pudiese aprender. Estuve muy enferma, mi ánimo muy deprimido, muchas personas malas querían que hiciera cosas ilegales para sobrevivir. Y mi novio me ayudó a encontrar un trabajo en fast food donde pude escondida poder trabajar ya que no tenía mi cédula de identificación con mi nombre claudia y mi sexo femenino. Mediante una demanda civil, pude lograr sin exigencias de cirugías y exámenes vejatorios poder obtener mi identificación y todo ha valido la pena, me fortaleci, me transformé en una mujer luchadora e inspiradora, dando el mensaje de que en medio de la adversidad, se puede renacer como el ave fenix.
Me hice una persona pública, debido a mi historia, ya que en revistas y reportajes en televisión y radios contaban mi historia de vida y la presentaban en Chile, como algo único, impresionante, una historia de fortaleza y valor, una historia de ir contra la corriente siendo persona trans y de luchar por ser feliz sin perder la esperanza. Luego me transformé en una líder que defiende los derechos de todas las personas trans de chile y de la comunidad gay en su conjunto. Comencé a asistir a conferencias de la sociedad civil y a educar a parlamentarios y eso hago hoy. Y cuento mi vida a través de facebook en un portal que se llama el diario vivir de una mujer transexual chilena.Estoy escribiendo un libro sobre mi vida, un libro motivador a luchar y defender tus ideales, tus sueños y tu identidad.
(The gay community in Santiago) En diversa, es multicultural, es organizada, es alegre, es solidaria, nos divertimos mucho a pesar de la intolerancia y discriminaciones, por falta de leyes que nos protegan y a pesar de que se nos patologiza, a pesar de que nuestras familias no nos comprenden debido a influencias conservadoras y prejuicios que hacen daño, estamos luchándo. Aquí tenemos muchos problemas y creo que el más grave es que niños trans son invisibilizados, sufren bullyng y adolescentes gays, lesbianas, trans sufren humillaciones y no tenemos leyes que protegan a la infancia de nuestra comunidad. Pero estamos luchándo por derechos civiles, por leyes, por cambios y políticas públicas que nos permitan desarrollarnos.Somos un grupo humano muy empoderado. Nuestras marchas son pacíficas y le demostramos al mundo que en Chile somos un movimiento social que se une a la esperanza y los hechos, a fin de cambiar a una sociedad intolerante, para construir un mejor pais, libre de prejuicios, de intolerancias y humillaciones simplemente por amar, por querer casarnos, por exigir nuestros derechos humanos, por exigir una ley de identidad de género, un acuerdo de vida en pareja, poder adoptar niños y dar amor y ser felices y contribuir a la sociedad con amor.Todos trabajamos con amor por estos objetivos.
Que se mire al espejo que se pregunte si es feliz, que se vea a si mismo como una persona que puede luchar por sus sueños, que puede marchar, que puede buscar ayuda si no puede hacerlo por si misma, que puede en su comunidad ser lo que desee ser y elegir como vivir su vida. Que a pesar de muchas dificultades sea una persona que siempre vea el vaso medio lleno y que sea capaz de ser una persona que luche por sus derechos, que se una a la sociedad civil, que trabajemos juntos para lograr leyes, politicas públicas y que con su historia de vida le diga a una país como Chile que tenemos los mismos derechos que cualquier persona, que somos ciudadanos, que podemos elegir, que podemos empoderarnos, que podemos ser líderes, que podemos contribuir a hacer cambios, para construir una sociedad pluralista, donde se pueda ser libre de pensar y de decidir sobre tu propio cuerpo de amar sin restricciones ni prejuicios. Para así contribuir a ser mejores personas y erradicar las injusticias y decir que el hecho de que ser parte de la comunidad de Gays, lesbianas, trans, bisexuales, intersexuales de Chile es un orgullo y una oportunidad de educar a un país que necesita de la diversidad para avanzar y construir un país cada día mejor.”
“Being a trans woman means recognizing me as a person, recognizing my human rights, and having the self-determination to guide and choose what I want to do, live, and feel in my life. It is an opportunity to experience the diversity and education, noting that being a trans person is not to be sick person, it is a legitimate way to live in spite of many difficulties, rejection, discrimination, lack of laws that protect. We can enjoy the simplicity of life, always beheld with a sense of resilience and strength in a way, despite discrimination, unemployment, humiliation and questions of choosing a genre and life. It is difficult to see a positive effect on transsexuality when society makes you completely invisible and will reject you for being different, you and I are pigeonholed by pathologies and prejudice. But I’ve learned not to focus on what people see negatively and always to see that with every hardship, scorn and intolerance, can be born a chance and a hope.
The big mistake in my opinion people make about trans people is people and medical sciences and psychology and an entire society generally that sees being trans as a psychiatric illness, because the binary, heteronormative, patriarchy and medicine has always shown us as sick, dangerous, destabilizing of gender norms, sexuality. Even some universities are taught that we are mentally ill. And that is not so. It is a great challenge to fight for it every day here. Even the World Health Organization is working to de-pathologize transsexuality. We the civil society in the world are demanding that transsexualism no longer be considered a disease and a mental disorder.
I first realized in my childhood at the age of 4 years, my inner feeling that my life, my experiences, my view of things and my surroundings and my connection with my feelings were clearly female despite being born with male genitals. This caused a transgression of my environment, my parents, church, and school. I transformed my childhood and, in a violation of the established, to the normative. Then in my teens I had to fight the physical changes occurring in nature, for male hormonal changes and the fight marked my life, but I managed. Having the opportunity to access education and my efforts to pursue a career in obstetrics and transformative healthcare, were important achievements as trans women. A neo-Nazi beat by men, almost making me lose my life. He almost killed me and I decided this situation was an opportunity to recover and fight for my rights. So I became an activist to fight for my dignity and gender identity in Chile. Working in the health system was very motivating, but the trouble was that I always lived discrimination for being a trans woman. It has not been easy to overcome everything, but I’ve survived. 3 years ago I was laid off from a job in a hospital and being a trans woman, nobody gave me a job. I could only survive in what I could learn. I was very sick, very depressed with my spirits, many bad people wanted me to do illegal things to survive. And my boyfriend helped me find a job in fast food where I hid to work because I had no ID card with my name as Claudia. Through a lawsuit, I could achieve without demands of surgeries and humiliating tests to get my ID and everything was worth it, I had strength, I became a fighter and inspiring woman, giving the message that in the midst of adversity, you can be reborn like the phoenix bird.
I became a public person, because of my history and magazines and television reports and radios had my life story and presented it to Chile, as a unique, amazing story of strength and courage, a history of going against the current being trans and striving to be a happy person without losing hope. Then I transformed into a leader who defends the rights of all persons in Chile, the trans and gay community as a whole. I started attending conferences and educating civil society and Parliamentarians to do that today. And I recount my life through Facebook in a portal called “the daily lives of a Chilean transsexual woman.” I am writing a book about my life, a motivator to fight and defend your ideals, your dreams and your identity.
(The gay community in Santiago) is diverse, multicultural, organized, cheerful, it has solidarity, we have a great time despite the intolerance and discrimination, lack of laws that protect us and although we were pathologized, even though our families do not understand us because of conservative influences and prejudices that harm, we are fighting. Here we have many problems and I think the worst part is that trans children are invisible, suffer bullying and gay teens, lesbians, trans suffer humiliations and we need laws that protect the children of our community. But we are fighting for civil rights, for law, for changes and public policies that empowered us. Our marches are peaceful and we show the world we are a social movement that binds to the hope and facts, to switch to an intolerant society, to build a better country, free of prejudice, intolerance and humiliation just in Chile to love, to want to marry, demand our human rights by demanding a law on gender identity, an agreement to form a couple, to adopt children and give love and be happy and contribute to society through work with love. These are the objectives.
(Advice I’d give to my younger self) Let the mirror be wondering if he is happy, that sees himself as a person who can pursue their dreams, they can go, you can get help if you can not do it by itself, which can be in your community. Look and be how you want to be and choose how to live your life. In spite of many difficulties be a person who always sees the glass as half full and be a person who will fight for your rights, join the civil society to work together to make laws, public policies so that your life story will tell of a country like Chile with equal rights for everyone. We are citizens, we can choose, we can empower ourselves, we can be leaders, we can help to make changes, to build a pluralistic society, where we can be free to think and decide on our own body to love without restrictions or prejudices. To contribute to better people and eradicate injustice and say that being part of the community of Gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, intersex, Chile is an honor and an opportunity to educate a country that needs the diversity to advance and build a better country every day.”