I was probably about 12 when I realized that I was different. I always dressed like a boy and played basketball - you know, all of those things. I guess you could say I was a tomboy. I didn’t feel right in a woman’s body. I was adopted at a young age because my mother was sent to prison. When I was 17, I sat my adoptive family down and told them that I wanted to start taking hormones. I had already researched everything and even found a doctor. They didn’t understand, but they were very supportive.
I started to transition at 17 but had to stop for health reasons. A few years later, I started transitioning again. I am, in a sense, finding myself. At first I was scared of how people were going to perceive me. But it feels amazing and I can’t wait for the day when I look in the mirror and I’m like “yep, that’s you.”
I moved to Philadelphia so that I could get to know my biological family. It is kind of hard getting to know them and having to explain that I am transitioning. But my attitude is that you are either going to like me or you are not. I am not going to allow myself to be changed by anyone.
I came to Y-HEP with a couple of friends and I really liked the vibe. Y-HEP is a safe space for me to talk about things that I don’t always have the opportunity to talk about. I get to be around people who are like me and who understand what I am experiencing. I also get to learn about what other people are experiencing in their lives. I have had the chance to volunteer at Y-HEP and it has made me want to volunteer at other places as well. Now, I want to be an activist, especially for trans rights. It’s exciting for me to teach people about being transgender. If I can show people that I am a normal person, it will help them become more tolerant and less judgmental.
I am proud of so many things in my life. I’m proud that I graduated from college and that I’m going through with my transition. I am also proud that I’m trying to get to know my real family without being resentful towards them. This is the advice I would give to others: Don’t let your past affect your future. I’ve been through a lot of things, but if I would have let those things hinder me, I would never be where I am today.
- Zaire Newsuan