By Alice Herrera
Editor’s note: This article was originally published by We’Ced Youth Media (http://www.wecedyouth.org/2017/06/coming-trans-finding-role-model/) and is republished with permission.
I had sweaty palms and shaky hands as I walked into the room. I knew my whole life would change.
I smiled and asked her to sit, but she hesitated and asked me why. I was trying to find the words to tell her my truth, but nothing came out. I also tried to block every emotion so that I would be immune to the pain I knew I was about to endure.
“Mom, I am a woman,” I said.
She looked at me. “You’re confused,” she said.
An argument ensued and she started to cry. I guess she thought that I would change my mind, but I remained strong, even while knowing that my own mother did not accept who I am.
My coming out story is different than most because I actually came out twice.
When I first came out, I thought I was gay. It took me a couple of years to realize I am really a transgender woman.
I was depressed and uncomfortable with myself for a long time. I felt as if I was never going to get anywhere, especially with my mom being very controlling and unaccepting. I moved out of my house for a while. In that time, I truly got to be who I wanted to be.
Once I moved back home, it was much harder to suppress my authentic self. Still, I did not start dressing like a “girl” right away. It took time, not only for other people but for myself. A transition does not happen from one day to another—that’s why it’s called a transition.
It’s been a year since I told my mother I am trans, and things have finally changed between us. A few months ago, she told me she would love me regardless.
If you are LGBTQ, you may be able to relate to this experience. I don’t suggest you force your parents to accept you, but I do recommend you insist on making them see this is who you really are and not something you just came up with one day. I know this process feels like forever, but trust me, when it happens you’ll be happy.
In Merced, being trans can be difficult. One reason is because we lack LGBTQ+ roles models to look up. Also, the local LGBT center closed in January because it did not have enough support from the community. Not everyone is strong enough to face their transition alone like I did. We all need support and safe places where we can take a break from people who think we are strange.
A lot of the people in the LGBT community are afraid to speak up for themselves so they stay silent, especially because of the harsh conservative climate in Merced.
But that’s not the case with me. If I see injustice, I will voice my opinion because it’s the right thing to do. I am also no longer afraid of the people who judge me.
I recognize my privilege. Not many people can tell that I am transgender, and for the people who don’t have this same privilege of “passing” it’s 10 times harder. I don’t know what that experience is like and the hardships that come with it.
I have insecurities just like any other human being, but they won’t stop me from being who I truly am. My goal is to be someone others can look up to and see that you can be whoever who chose to be. It doesn’t matter what other people think, the only thing that matters is your happiness.
Hannah Esqueda is a lifelong resident of the Central Valley. Esqueda has spent the past three years covering news in and around the Fresno area. She has a degree in journalism from Washington and Lee University and was a 2016 participant in the USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellowship. Currently, she serves as We’Ced’s beat reporter.