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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Transgender students share identity struggles

Bogdan+Sierra+Miranda%2FThe+Collegian
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

By Martin Ramirez/ south news editor

Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Roy Rodriquez, a transgender student, felt support and love when he came out although he had attended Christian schools through middle and high school. 

He told his mother in his old elementary school parking lot, seeking a place with familiarity. He told his father just five months ago. However, it was coming out to his headmaster that really stood out.

“Let me tell you, coming out to a Christian school, it’s a bit much,” he said. “I remember what my headmaster said. It kind of made me cry. He said, ‘Even though our religion doesn’t exactly preach what you are doing in life, I’m not going to toss you outside like you’re under me. You are still a human being. I still love you no matter what, and I will be there to support you.’”

Rodriquez encouraged people in similar situations to reach out to sources around them, like a counselor. He did not realize how alone he was until he talked to his counselor.

“You can’t do it on your own. You really can’t,” he said. “Communication is the base of trying to get people to understand.”

Transgender student Fay Brewer was married for seven years when she told her father, later getting a divorce. When her family in Tennessee heard the news, they cut off communication.

“They weren’t rude. They weren’t mean,” she said. “They just stopped having anything to do with me. Fortunately, I hardly have anything to do with my folks over there. It’s mostly over here and with my very supportive father.”

Her father, retired Army Reserve ordnance officer Richard Brewer said one of the first clues about his daughter was finding out all her computer usernames were feminine. He also shared an experience from 2011 when she went through six months of chemotherapy.

“The oncologist had been told Fay was transgender, and his response was that he didn’t believe in transgender,” he said. “But he also provided the necessary chemotherapy that lasted six sessions, and Fay has been in complete remission since then.”

His experience as a parent has helped him understand the transgender community and their issues.

“You’ll never get a better training in what human beings are than raising a child,” he said. “One of the things I’ve learned from becoming a parent is that feelings matter. We have children, and we think we have to teach them, but they also teach us.”

He was asked what his advice was to any parent, not just to one with a transgender child.

“I guess the first thing is to recognize that you are starting a real adventure and recognize that it’s going to be challenging,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be, in many ways, more fun than you would ever believe possible. And it will certainly take you places that you would never otherwise go.”

Gwen Watson, president of the Fort Worth Transgender group, spoke about her experience coming out in a rural town and to her former wife. At 5 years old, she was punished for wearing girl clothes, but she found support when she later came out.

“I’m not broke. I don’t really need to be fixed,” she said. “The best outcome I have had was my mom. She gave me a big hug and said, ‘I have always known. I just didn’t want to admit it.’”

However, Watson said parents and anyone else should avoid snide jokes and hateful speech toward LGBT individuals. She said some use religion to argue against transgender people.

“[The Bible] doesn’t say ‘Love thy neighbor unless you’re gay,’” she said.

She also encouraged those struggling or searching for help to reach out to her group or any other organization that supports them.

Student Sarah Ezrow shared her advice for allies of transgender individuals.

“If you’re an ally, the best thing you can do is educate yourself,” she said. “It’s cool if you don’t understand something.”

Ezrow said she is a bisexual, and people should not believe she is a confused lesbian or a straight girl.

“Don’t judge a person based on whom they are with,” she said. “Every person’s identity is different.”

For more information or questions concerning transgender issues, visit Watson’s group at fortworth-transgender.org.

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