So, there I was, fifteen years old, a sophomore in high school and sitting at an outside table during lunch period. My best friend and I were talking about normal drama at our age, like who we wanted to go to the winter formal with, or if we were interested in our next seasons’ sports games. After a few moments, I noticed a young girl sitting by herself at another table. I’ve always hated seeing people alone, so I approached her and invited her to come sit with my friend and me. She seemed so uncomfortable, and I had no idea why. She agreed and followed me over. I reached out my hand and said “Hey! I’m Sierra and this is Adriana!”. The young girl looked up and me and said, “My name is Oliver and I’m a boy”.
This was my very first interaction with someone who identified as Transgender. It was after meeting Oliver and learning more about what it meant to be Trans that I finally understood myself. I hated being called a girl and having to wear “girly” clothes. I was always so self-conscious of my breasts and having to wear bras. I hated when other guys wouldn’t let me play sports or hang out with them because I didn’t understand “what it meant to be a dude”. It was Oliver who taught me that I too, was a Transgender Male.
Image of Devon as a young person. He has a red t-shirt and grey necktie on. He’s got shoulder length strawberry blonde hair and he’s smiling and looking at the camera.
My experiences with being a lesbian in my family taught me to keep this new information to myself. When I turned eighteen, I left for San Diego to attend CalState San Marcos. It was there that I discovered more about myself and made friends that left a lasting impression in my life. In the pride center on campus, I met people that were Trans Female-to-Male (FTM) and Male-to-Female (MTF), Non-Binary, Lesbian, Gay, straight, polyamorous, and Queer. It was truly an incredible experience. I was also simultaneously overwhelmed. I had no idea how many gender and sexual identities there were. I had previously spent three years hating myself for not being born a man yet feeling the desire and desperate need to show the world who I truly was. It was at the Pride Center in San Diego that I learned I am exactly who I’m meant to be. I am perfect in my own way.
Image of Devon (left) and his wife, Jessica (right). They’re both wearing glasses, looking directly into the camera and smiling. Jessica’s mask is pulled down under her chin.
My name is Devon, and I am now happily married to my wife Jessica. I’ve finally taken steps towards having my legal name and gender change forms processed and have never been happier than I am right now. Life will always have its barriers and challenges, and it took me a very long time to learn this. My feelings and barriers are my own, but who’s to say there aren’t a ton of people who can relate? Let’s spend this Trans Day of Visibility making more efforts towards bringing awareness and support to those who may not get that on a regular basis. Let’s acknowledge those that might feel estranged and disconnected from a world that they are bringing more diversity to with every passing day. Take today to recognize the beauty and courage that it takes to step up and truly be oneself.
I leave you with some questions. To my fellow Trans and Gender Diverse Community: ask yourself, are you ready to be bold? Can we help you celebrate your diversity and be yourself? If the answer is no, please trust, you are still valued and seen. We are continuing the fight in hopes you will feel ready someday.
Devon Dye (he/him) is the Pride Center’s Peer Group and Volunteer Coordinator.