A large part of the LGBTQ* community but one that is often silenced is the ever-growing transgender community, or trans for short. Trans people often face more oppression that other members of the community with threats of sexual assault and physical violence looming over the very existence of these people. The often unaccepting social atmosphere severely impacts the mental health of trans people with many self-harming and attempting suicide in order to escape the social pressures of performing a gender they truly don’t feel represents them. As part of Pride month, we wanted to create some content about the experience of transwomen in Ireland today. We sat down with Alexandra Day to ask about her experience coming out.
When and How did you know you were trans?
I knew that I didn’t want to be a boy from about 8 or 9 but I didn’t actually have the language to describe what I was feeling until I randomly stumbled across an article about trans people when I was 15. It was this eureka moment because the more I looked into it, the more I found the words I needed to describe the disconnect between my gender identity and the person I presented to the world every day.
How did you feel about being trans?
I was apprehensive at first because I knew it would send me on a different path in life to the one I was on. However, as more time passed, I realised that a life where I never came out and truly accepted myself would be going through life as a ghost. I would be there but I would always struggle with people getting close to me because of this secret I had.
What/who helped you come to terms with being trans?
I was in third year of college and felt that I’d reached a crossroads in life. One path was living my old life and trying to make the best of things. The other was coming out and accepting myself for who I truly was and although it would be the tougher path, it would ultimately be more rewarding. I felt like I would be wasting my life if I had chosen the first path.
Tell us your coming out story
I came out to my younger sibling first. Even before I had told them, they were always fiercely supportive of social justice issues in general but particularly LGBTQIA+ issues. I knew that they would be incredibly supportive so I felt comfortable coming out to them. We stayed up chatting for about three hours after I told them and just discussing how long I’d known, when I decided to come out etc.
What were your experiences when closeted/when coming out? What helped you at this time and what did you find difficult?
I mostly dressed in the clothes I’d always wanted to wear in private and talked to other folks on the trans subreddits and forums.
How do you find pride in your everyday life?
There are so many parts of society that want me to hate myself and the rest of the community to hate ourselves for being trans. So, I try to work against that and love myself, flaws and all. It’s not effective all of the time (I really struggled with this when I was early in my transition) but I don’t see the point in hating myself for this one part of my life I can’t change.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride to me should be a celebration of LGBTQIA+ people and our community to a certain extent but more importantly, it should be about raising awareness for the issues still affecting those marching beside us, platforming the voices of marginalised voices within that community and providing representation for those without voices.
What advice would you have for your younger self? *
Be kind to yourself and be patient. You’re not perfect and anything good in life takes time.
Would you do anything differently looking back?
I think I would have been more open in my final year of college about my situation. I had come out to my family at that point but chose not to share how I was feeling in college. I hid my identity from my flatmate and other people in my class at the time and I think I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary stress just by being open about what I was going through.
For more information or guidance please check out TENI, who do great work in this area.