Transgender Lives: Your Story

My transition will always be a work in progress. My identity as transgender has been a continuous site of discovery and rediscovery, of ongoing transition since I came out in high school, at seventeen.

Boiling down my story into the appropriate narrative of “born in the wrong body” or “I always knew” is always tempting. Those are the stories that the mainstream has elevated, the stories that gain visibility. But for me, as a transfeminine, queer East Asian woman, those stories often lit a singular path forward that was hard for me to follow. And there were few alternatives. Happiness seemed always and impossibly tied to faceless ideals of hyperfeminine beauty, wealth, transition, and success.

I struggled through depression and suicidal ideation in high school and the first years of college as my relationships with my friends, family, and school slowly transitioned with me. And, as I continued taking steps towards the person I wanted to be, I began realizing that I was straying from the monolithic idea of trans that I idolized. It was liberating, in the most terrifying way possible.

Today, as an out transgender student at Stanford, I believe I have the responsibility to redirect the resources here towards the communities that need it most, and use my visibility and place within this institution to make things better. I hope that my advocacy can lead not only to individual changes in attitudes and behaviors in my peers, but also lay the foundation for the systemic changes that need to happen in this institution, and in society. Trans women of color, especially, are disproportionately victims of violence, mass incarceration, and discrimination on all levels of society. These injustices need to be fought against.

My narrative of transition so far has been one of survival, change and actualization, and I am excited to see where that narrative takes me moving forward. I’ve found my role models now in communities and coalitions of other trans women of color, who have been continual inspiration for resistance, healing, organizing, and thriving. At the end of the day, I find myself thinking of future changes in the same way I thought of transition at the very beginning: excitement! My identity as trans is inseparable from who I am, who I’ve been, and who I will be in the future. It’s been one hell of a ride – here’s hoping it only gets better.

Originally published in The New York Times.

Empower yourself to create an inclusive workplace environment

A delicate exploration of the discrimination that gender-diverse people face, this book reveals the landscape of identity, performance, negotiation and resilience that trans people in the workplace must navigate every day.

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