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What Surprised Me About Transitioning: People's Reactions

For Transgender Awareness Week, transgender writer and activist Basil Soper is taking over our blog. Each day this week he will be talking about one thing that surprised him about transitioning from female to male. Transitioning (when a person begins living as the gender they identify with rather than the gender they were assigned at birth) can be liberating and life-saving, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfectly smooth process with no complications (or complicated feelings).

Coming out as trans taught me a lot about other people and my relationships with them. Some people who I assumed would be loving and accepting disappointed me, while many others surprised me with their support. In my experience, if someone is essentially a healthy person who has done a lot of self-work or highly values respect, they will usually be accepting regardless of religious beliefs or ignorant attitudes.

When I came out, a lot of my white, American friends—straight and LGB—acted weird about my decision, judged me, or hurtfully talked about how they “really saw me.” At the time, I was working in the kitchen of an Indian restaurant. My co-workers were all straight, cis, Indian or Latino men. When I changed my name and pronouns, they were the first on board. Within five minutes the head chef started calling me Basil and never used my old name again. I know it’s racist to assume that they would have an issue with me because of their cultures. I feel guilty now, but I was incredibly nervous about facing their machismo and deeply held gender beliefs. In the end though, I felt much safer in that kitchen than in gay bars.

Basil Soper is a transgender writer, activist, and Southerner who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the founder of the traveling trans documentary project Transilient. To learn more about Basil visit www.basilvsoper.com

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.

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