Trans people show Pride from within

  • by Max Guerrera
  • Wednesday June 26, 2024
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Samantha Hutz talked about what Pride means to her as a transgender woman. Photo: Samantha Hutz
Samantha Hutz talked about what Pride means to her as a transgender woman. Photo: Samantha Hutz

As intuitive as gender expression can be, it's often met with resistance from others.

Pride demonstrates liberation, empowering trans community members to own their most unapologetic selves. This celebration recognizes gender expression that must be fought for, trans people interviewed for this article pointed out. Not only to gain acceptance from the world, but from within.

"Self-love and self-acceptance for anybody is a process," said Kelly Hansen, a trans nonbinary individual who's the director at the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Gender Health unit.

"I'd have a lot of experiences of just feeling like I was floating in a corner of the ceiling. There's an odd feeling, kind of like an out of body experience," said Hansen, 42, in an interview. "Some might call that dissociation, which I think is really common for trans people to feel dissociative."

Hansen recalls knowing who they were from a very young age, but has faced obstacles when it comes to free expression. "The gender that I feel inside has always been that 5-year-old. I think a harder part for me is imposter syndrome," they said.

Imposter syndrome is a behavioral health phenomenon that causes people to doubt their skills, accomplishments, or intelligence, even if they have the education, experience, or success to support them.

The trans community provides spaces for individuals to come together over their shared experiences, but as a nonbinary identifying person, it can be difficult to feel at home in these places, Hansen noted.

"It's affected me by not feeling trans enough at times," said Hansen. "Sometimes, I think it would be so much easier if I could just take T [testosterone]. I have this feeling of being like, I just want to pass sometimes. I want to pass in one space or the other."

"Passing" is thought of as how one is identified by others. In a world where trans people often feel unwelcomed, the ability for one to express themself can be a privilege, Hansen observed.

"Being trans has changed the way I move through the physical world and where I feel like I could go," said Hansen. "Can you ever really feel a sense of safety when, especially nowadays, there is so much fear mongering?"

Trans people are often hyper aware of how they're perceived in the world, but the most important feelings of validation can come from within, noted the trans people interviewed for this article.

"Self-respect takes work," said Samantha Hutz, a trans woman and UC Law San Francisco graduate student. "A big part of it for me came from embracing my own extraversion. In my formative years, gender dysphoria made me think that an introvert was who I was." By allowing the woman inside of her to come out, Hutz's comfort zone expanded, and her social life began to flourish.

In an interview, Hutz, 24, has also explored self-expression in the form of her art through photography. "I think of my own art as a photographer as literally being able to see the world through my eyes. I can relive my own life through my art, and people can understand where I've been and, in a way, who I am through my art," Hutz said.

Self-love is an ongoing journey for many regardless of their gender identity, Hutz noted, and love received from others often enables individuals to embrace themselves fully.

"Being in a long committed relationship with my partner, who is another trans woman - we've been together for about a year and a half now - has really helped me feel understood in my relationships," said Hutz. "In my past relationships, I've been with mostly other trans women or cis men, and the difference between these kinds of relationships is just astounding. Having a long-term partner, who is like me, is going a long way toward having a harmonious kind of home life and feeling understood."

Hansen has also experienced love, both platonic and romantic, which uplifts them in their experience as a trans person.

"When we think about people or relational things, we're looking for a mirror. Like, does somebody see me? You want to see yourself and see them see you," said Hansen. "When I think about love and how that's affected me, we need relationships, and I need loving, caring relationships that aren't confrontational."

As strong and resilient as the trans community is, love is needed to break down barriers and live authentically without feeling the need to justify one's own existence.

"I don't want to fight. I just want to move to peace," said Hansen.

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