Words by Ember Ocampo.
Being a teenager is fucking hard. Now, add in the societal pressure of transitioning, being an immigrant, and being a woman of color and you’ve got a formula that’s damn near impossible to navigate.
But, guess what, I’m fucking doing it. And I know you can too.
I’m not here to tell you that dealing with the hate isn’t exhausting; that shit is not easy, especially atop normal teen stressors like homework and pubescent male classmates. Not even a full month into coming out as transgender sophomore year, I was ready to throw in the towel and call it a day. The backlash of being trans smacked me right across the face, and my Token Homosexual days were over.
The only reason I made it out was because my friends yanked me the fuck out. My friends, who are all queer, helped me a lot during those first few months of living as a trans woman. Though all our experiences were different, we found comfort in knowing that we could be hated as a group rather than facing the hatred alone. A good support system plays a big factor in the survival of high school.
Besides finding your community (if you don’t have one at your school, you can always hit me up!) I’ve learned a few other key lessons to make life a little easier for anyone in my situation.
First up, face your reality as is.
Growing up in a third world country, I had envisioned American high school as a safe haven where everyone parties and people were celebrated for their differences. Experiencing it first hand, though? Girl…let’s just say I wasn’t getting the fantasy I created. All I ever wanted was to live a normal life, but the second I accepted that I was never going to get that, I felt better about my life in general. Why do I say that you ask? Well it’s because:
- I’m a Trans Woman
- I’m an immigrant
- I’m too in my own head to form real connections with people (too specific?)
Denying reality worked for a while, but soon it all felt like a bad Black Mirror episode. The truth broke the fourth wall and I was left to face it head on because if I didn’t, It would devour me. Living in denial does not equal living happily. Just face the facts: You’re trans, it’s hard, but you’ll get through it.
Living in denial does not equal living happily. Just face the facts: You’re trans, it’s hard, but you’ll get through it.
Which brings me too…
Remember your self worth.
Trans women are strong, independent, and powerful as hell, but I have to assume that a big want in all of us girlies is love. High school dating is tough as is, and being trans can make it seem impossible.
Just remember that you are more than a secret, and you deserve to be shown off. Don’t lower your worth for a person that doesn’t deserve you! And for my straight girlies, don’t determine your worth using the male gaze, because in conclusion, men ain’t shit.
Just remember that you are more than a secret, and you deserve to be shown off.
Many of us trans women get trapped in relationships where we determine worth through romantic attention, but as a powerful mother once said: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gon’ love somebody else?
Remember that YOU are still a teenager, love takes time and you must take that time to secure yourself and understand your identity.
Now let’s get to the part y’all been waiting for: being comfortable with your body to the point where you are able to share it with your partner. From one trans goddess to another, being comfortable with all our parts can be very difficult. This can be due to factors like dysphoria, societal pressures, and the narrative of trans bodies being hated.
Trans people being expected to hate their bodies is harmful. This narrative was created to enforce binary standards like men only having flat chests, women only having feminine qualities, and non binary people being required to look androgynous. To escape this narrative, you have to realize that human bodies are just human bodies, and our identities don’t have to directly relate to that. Finding a partner who appreciates your body as is can be very difficult, but knowing your worth and knowing what you deserve will push you through. Don’t get it twisted: trans people are fully capable of loving their own bodies and self.
Don’t get it twisted: trans people are fully capable of loving their own bodies and self.
Finally, remember that time is your friend.
To me, time started going by faster when I began to focus on the bigger picture and stopped fixating on the now. I like to picture myself as a successful woman, instead of thinking only about the challenges I’m faced with today. I reframe my current issues as learning lessons that can help me achieve my goals in the future.
Time and hope go hand in hand. Together, they help me realize that in a couple of years, I won’t be stuck looking at these musty ass boys juuling in my Biology class. That in a couple of years, I won’t have to listen to Mrs. Henderson go on and on about microorganisms.
One thing that really helped me was hope, hope that one day I would be fully transitioned with big titties and a diploma in hand, waving my tits at the people who slandered me with blatant transphobia. That definitely did and IS the only thing that has kept me going, despite the fact that I’m still a Junior. But hey, one more year!
Ember is a queer writer born and raised in the Philippines. As a trans immigrant, she strives to normalize these labels and bring the American Dream to the marginalized. She has two rats named Left and Right Tiddy.