June’s SpeakReal Podcast is a special Pride month Edition! Lolita Richards (Youth Facilitator and Social Media Coordinator) had the opportunity to speak with Alex Andras (Youth Facilitator and Team Engagement Lead)..
The LGBTQ2SAI+ community acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Asexual (sometimes Ally), Intersex plus many more identities.
Alex speaks on his experience as transgender man, (female transitioned to male). He speaks of growing up and feeling a lot of anger, feeling weird in his own skin, and knowing deep down that something about him was unique. His hobbies of playing sports, playing in the dirt, climbing trees were deemed “traditionally masculine” at the time. And while he was female, this made him feel alone, as these hobbies do not fit societal norms for young girls. Before transitioning, Alex originally came out as a lesbian when he identified as female. Growing up in a small, rural community, he did not hear the term ‘transgender’ until he was 19 years old and then came out as transgender. Alex was extremely lucky to have the support of his parents, brother, friends, and principal when coming out. His parents were especially supportive in helping him find the right doctor to help his transition, and better his understanding of the process. Alex admits he has been in therapy for years, which has helped immensely.
Alex mentions that when he transitioned, he found himself in a place of privilege. When transitioning, Alex noticed the difference in how men and women are treated, even within himself. He believes it is important to note that he is treated more respectfully as someone who appears as a white man versus when he was a white female. For example, he can feel a difference in his fear level as a white male, where he can walk around at 2-3 am and not feel afraid of potentially being a victim of assault. However, if he presented as a woman he knows that he would not be able to do so because of the fear that comes with the experience of women attached to the female body. What’s more is he finds now that he is presented with many opportunities as a white man. Further, It is important to note that white men should acknowledge their privilege and use it appropriately to help change society’s views by speaking up. In society, the differences in the way women are treated are not talked about and still very present.
For those who are struggling with coming out, Alex states that living your truth is the best freedom a person can have. Also, if you are worried about how your family will react to you coming out, give people time to adjust and learn after. Further, a family can be found within the LGBTQ2SAI+ community and there will be a family again. Alex says that he was the type to laugh whenever he was told things get better, but now he truly believes that it is true, and that life does get better even when you are in disbelief of it at a younger age. Lastly, even if you choose not to medically transition, your identity and feelings are still valid.
In regards to boundaries and healthy relationships, Alex believes that his newfound confidence and self-love have helped make it easier for him to set boundaries and have healthier relationships.
Some tips for being an ally of the LGBTQ2SAI+ community include the importance of educating yourself and being open-minded. Educating yourself includes learning as much as you can, such as watching TedTalks to learn about lived experiences, reading books, and listening to lectures. Allies should also not take offense when being corrected for what you are saying. It is important also to not be afraid to ask questions for clarification if you are unsure if what you are saying is appropriate. It is also important to remember that even if you do not fully understand, that it is someone else’s battle. Alex also states that transgender people are more common than people may realize and that they are still someone’s child and someone’s partner. A way to help make conversations more comfortable, one can always start a conversation by introducing themselves with their pronouns, allowing another person to feel more comfortable with stating theirs.
Be conscious of your language. Be proud of who you are, no matter your identity. Be proud of your community.