Being a student can be defined by many things, but for many, it’s the time itself – the opportunity to to experiment, grow, and learn about yourself and the world around you.
The reality is that as a transgender student, your path to self-discovery and experimentation may moving more quickly, or look very different, from the paths of your classmates. Transitioning, in the most general and non-medical sense, is daunting at any age. But, as a young person still in school, it can be so much more than that.
Here are five steps to make your gender transition within the classroom more affirming and easeful.
1. Be explicit in conversation.
Whether it be when talking to administration, teachers, or your peers – be explicit about your needs as a trans student. Make clear your expectations by doing things such as sending an email to teachers and administration communicating your needs before classes start. Let them know what you will be listed as on their student role, what name you go by, and the pronouns you use. Being clear about your expectations will ease everything. The sad reality in most schools is that issues will arise, and its important to be prepared when they do. Having a list of expectations you can prove to have communicated will certainly be in your favor.
2. Engage with the community.
While you may not see anyone in your school that openly shares an identity similar to your own, it is very likely those people exist within your greater regional or online community. Seeking out resources that will lead you to the local LGBT+ presence in your community and getting involved can be incredibly rewarding. Local connections can last a lifetime because of the solidarity and terms they were founded on.
3. Do what makes you happy and comfortable.
Ultimately, your happiness and comfort is most important. Transitioning is challenging, there is no book with all the rules of exactly what and how things should work so at the end of the day the choice is always yours. It’s okay to have new thoughts about your gender, to reconsider name choices or the labels you claim. And if those things change, don’t be afraid to share those changes. You should always safely express yourself as you please.
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4. Take things at your own pace.
You may be seeing people in your school or online that are yards ahead of you in your gender journey, and that’s okay! Everyone comes out and transitions in their own time, and everyone’s experience is defined by different circumstances. Folks feels differently about their gender transitions, too. If you know who you are and feel confident expressing it that’s amazing, but if you are still unsure or not able to be out that’s just as alright. Just like in regards to your happiness and comfort, the pace you pursue gender transition at should be your choice. It is 100% okay to take things slow – or speed ahead – or be somewhere in between.
5. Remember: things will improve.
It may be really hard for a while. Getting people to understand your need for respect will be challenging; it will be a long road to all your classmates getting your name and pronouns, but there will likely come a day where you can introduce yourself far gone from the context of a classroom where people knew you as someone else. Being young and a student is hard enough without being transgender, but in the end you will be stronger because of it. No matter what you are going through there is a large community of people behind your back, whether it be locally or online. It is often easy to forget we are not alone, gender transition can be isolating, so here is your reminder that as cheesy as it sounds things do get better.
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