The T Side of Things
By Sean Finn, Marshalltown HS SOAR President
Practically everyone could tell you what it means to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Not all would be able to explain in depth, but they understand the general premise. But wait, there’s an initial missing from this set. There’s that ambiguous letter settled at the end of that common acronym - LGBT. What does it mean? Do people understand it? Unfortunately, not very many people fully understand or could explain what it means to be transgender. Even among those in the LGBT community, there are many who barely know what it means and who have several misconceptions about it.
Trans people are a huge minority! The numbers aren’t exact, but an estimated only 0.3% of the population fits under the category of trans. And that probably explains why so many people are so misinformed or uninformed about it. So I’ll go ahead and explain a few things about trans folk. Someone is transgender when the body they were born in doesn’t match up with their own idea of who they are. There are two main categories: FtM (Female to Male) and MtF (Male to Female). Typically, trans people like not to be called by their birth name, or by pronouns that align with their birth sex. There’s a lot about trans folk that many people don’t understand, so go inform yourself! Simply by Googling transgender, you’ll find an abundance of informational resources. Here are a couple:
Living in a world like ours is hard for me as an FtM. Yes, there are a lot of difficult, expensive steps to take in order to transition, but what is even harder is the psychological stress of everyday situations. From teachers continuing to call me “Miss Finn” and classmates not thinking to group me with the guys to avoiding public boys-or-girls restrooms at all costs and sitting with an application in front of me, staring at one of the first, usually easiest questions - check m or f.
In a world so oblivious to people like me, those who take the time to be informed and acknowledge me as a regular guy restore some confidence in me that there are non-trans people out there who can at least partially understand what I go through and who I am. They brighten my day, make me smile, and put some pep in my step. If you’re one of those people - I thank you sincerely. If not - become one! It’s always a good time to learn something new. You’ll never know how much of an impact just a few, well-intentioned words can make to someone.
Finn is a junior at Marshalltown high school and the President of SOAR (Sexual Orientation Alliance Representatives). He is very involved in the school community, participating in band, speech, Envirothon, Science Olympiad, debate, National Honor Society, mock trial, and SOAR. Finn writes that "as the leader of the school GSA, I have found the group to be a fantastic way to spread awareness and to establish otherwise unlikely friendships."