What it’s like being transgender at UEA
No-one has asked if I have a P or a V
UEA has helped me to feel comfortable being a transguy.
Today marks the final day of Transgender Awareness Week, and throughout, UEA Pride has hosted a variety of events and projects in honour.
So I thought there was no better time than now to talk about what it’s really like to be a transgender guy at university.
I can only speak for myself, as (funnily enough) not all trans men or women are the same, but I for one have felt fully embraced during these early stages of my personal transition.
For me it wasn’t until joining university this year that I felt safe enough and strong enough to set out on my path – even though in reality these steps are not really a surprise to any of my friends or family.
I’m a first year Film and English student, and being at university gave me a great deal of freedom and helped to discover not only the joys of snakebite and the glory of fish finger baps, but also the realisation that I can finally be who I really want to be. No, who I really am.
I’m one of the lucky ones – my family has been really supportive, and so have my friends. So I suppose the amount of strangers on campus should really be scary, and I should be worrying what they’ll think of me.
The actuality of it? The majority of you don’t care, and those that might? Well, I haven’t met you yet (and please keep your traps shut).
The thing about UEA is that, at least for me, it’s been very accepting and inclusive. The introduction of the Gender Neutral toilets was a genius idea, as right now admittedly I only really use the guys’ loos around campus after one too many ciders.
I have the support of UEA Pride – the fact they have pronoun badges is amazing – but also anyone I meet is quite happy to use he/him if I ask them to do so, including the lecturers.
Don’t think for a second just because they’re the “authority” in the room, or that they dress in tweed and have been teaching for generations, that they won’t accept you for you. The best advice that I can give in any situation is just to speak up, make a stand. Tell people who you are, and embrace it.
I know, I know. This is all easier said than done, and not everyone’s experience will be as easy as mine has been so far. The thing is though, I started my own massive step by visiting the Wellbeing Service on campus – I didn’t go in there to blurt out the fact that I was really deep in gender dysphoria, but it happened.
While a lot of the services on campus won’t specialise in anything trans, they will try to point you in the right direction, and at UEA that seems to be into the open arms of support in one way or another.
Seriously, my only pet peeve is seeing guys with amazing beards that I want but can’t grow yet, and UNIO asking for my name and spelling it “Leigh”. I could have it worse. A lot, lot worse.
So, in all the confusion and all the strain, there is hope. Today is a reminder that horrible things happen because of the attitude that can exist towards transgendered people, but you can show your support and pledge to help it stop.
Yesterday at 6pm, Pride hosted a candlelit Remembrance Vigil in the square which I hope some of you managed to attend.
To follow Lee’s story, visit his blog here.