B.N., 24, Her/She/Hers

How did you come out to your parents? How was the coming out process?

Technically I never really came out to my parents. Starting in high school, I began slowly embracing my femininity. Little by little I would ease into more effeminate presentation. It was difficult and I suffered a lot of trauma and backlash from my parents. I never really knew what being trans was, so I identified as a gay male. I soon realized I was being forced to assimilate to cis standards where identifying as gay was as far as I was allowed to go and still be accepted. There were times when I was asked if I thought I was a girl (in a condescending tone obviously). To protect myself, I’d just say “no.”

If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?

I’d tell myself that I am the little girl I thought I was. I’d tell myself to be careful, and treat my body well. I’d tell myself to focus on my education and career goals more consistently.

How do the media’s images of queerness relate to your own life? Do you see yourself in the media’s visions of queerness?

For the most part I cannot say the media’s portrayal of the LGBT+ community is a 100 percent accurate reflection of the real community. There are some gems, but there are often shallow clichés that don’t die. Black trans women, such as myself, are underrepresented and misrepresented the most.

Are you worried about your queerness hindering your getting a job?

Always. Trans-related anxiety is real, and it doesn’t even stop at the acceptance letter. You can have a job for months before your gender or orientation becomes an issue to your coworkers or employers. So to be truthful, I’m always on edge.