"I have had trouble being taken seriously and treated like a normal person in any given situation. Things like going to the bathroom, for example. It means nothing to most people, people who are the gender they were assigned at birth, but just recently I was using the men's bathroom on ECU campus in the Brewster building, and this guy told me, 'You don't belong in here!' and went to grab at me. I had to shove him off of me, the look on his face was violent. Doing anything in public is tough honestly. Just little things like getting a coffee or going to the grocery store can get me dirty looks."
When did you realize that you identified as a different gender than the one you were assigned at birth?
"I have known since I was a small child that I identified as male. I would come home from school crying because I didn't look like the other little boys in my class. I chased girls on the playground, I wanted to be their boyfriend, things like that. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like you are in prison. You are in prison every single day. It feels like you can't break the bars and you can't escape. Later in my life, I got to the point where I realized that I had been working on myself in so many other ways but I was still unhappy, and until I started accepting this about myself I would always be unhappy. The hormone therapy has helped my voice and has started helping me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I feel like for the first time, I can look in the mirror and see myself."
Are there any misconceptions about gender identity that you would like to address?
"I think it is important that people understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are very separate. You can be transgender and straight, you can be trans and gay. It is a huge misconception."
What is some advice that you would give to someone else struggling with gender identification right now?
"Find a support group. They are everywhere, you don't realize how many supportive people are around. As cliche as it sounds, I would also say it does get better with time, as long as you believe in yourself and fight for who you are. Your happiness has to be put first."