In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, MTV News asked young trans people: “What does Transgender Awareness Week mean to you?”
2015 has been a monumental year for the transgender community, but there’s more progress yet to be made. Not only do we want to highlight the powerful personal stories of these individuals, but we want to know: “What’s next?” Let’s shine a light on what has been accomplished — and what still needs to be discussed.
By Brendan Jordan, 16
I was in the third grade at a new school I just moved to. Moving to a new school is very scary because you’re just worried, and hoping people like you and accept you for who you are. Being the loud and friendly person that I am, I knew it would be easy for me to make friends. But every time I opened my mouth I would always hear the same thing: “You sound like a girl.”
At first, I didn’t really know what to make of these constant comments on how I acted and the way I came about things, but I knew one thing for sure -- I was different. Of course I knew at the time that everyone was different, but this was the first time in my life I had ever felt like a stranger. I spent the rest of my elementary and the majority of my middle school-life feeling this way. Also, it didn’t really help when I kept getting the “Are you gay?” question constantly thrown at me almost every school day.
When the other boys would often spend their time away at their football practices, I would spend my time playing The Sims and dressing my character in the most stylish and fabulous clothes. Finally, in my eighth grade year of middle school, I came out to my family and all of my friends at school. I was blessed enough to have an amazing and supportive family that I thank God every day for. Right after I told the news to everyone, I felt a happy and free feeling I never even knew I could feel. But even though I came out, the happiness slowly deteriorated as I still felt that there was a certain empty void -- or a missing piece of a puzzle -- that I have yet to figure out about myself.
I realized that even after coming out, I still remained very closed-minded towards myself. I’ve always been obsessed with heels, clothes, makeup and many other fabulous things. As soon as I opened my heart and my mind to all of these, I then found one of the missing pieces to my puzzle that I have been yearning forever since I was brought into this world. Every single day of my life I am slowly finding new pieces to my puzzle and discovering more and more things about myself.
My experimentation has also caused my recent discovery and realization of my gender-fluidity. This is where I am in contact with both the male and female Brendan (and some days I am in contact with one more than the other). I also am comfortable (very comfortable) with either “she” or “he” pronouns. After constant research, I finally found the word that perfectly describes my current situation regarding my identity. Everyone always asks which gender I identify as, and I just answer with a simple, “Why not both?” I do not know who I will be, where I am going or whom I will identify as in the future, but for now this is what I am extremely and finally comfortable with during these awkward teenage-development years.
I believe that 2015 has been an amazing year for trans awareness. Many people -- including me -- have learned a lot this year about the gender spectrum in its entirety. I cannot wait to see what 2016 holds, and what the future of the awareness will look like. Next year is going to be a very big year for action to take place such as installing gender neutral bathrooms in every public building and in schools.
This week, I think it’s important to remember those who fought in this battle before us. I also think it’s important to question and ask yourself, “Am I truly happy?” If the answer is no then change that -- and find the missing pieces to your puzzle.
If you are transgender and thinking about suicide, or know someone who is, please contact The Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386.