From the day I was born, identity has always been an important concept in my life. I was born last of five children to the family doctor of a small town; everybody knew who I was and had 6 people to whom they could compare me. Being known as myself was very important to me. When I would play sports, I was compared to my brother; when I did 4-H, I was compared to my 3 sisters who were teen leaders. My main definer to my identity has always been music; I started with piano, then violin, French horn, guitar, ukulele, melophone and then trumpet. My identity had even saved my life, for I crashed into a bus when I was seventeen, and the muscles I developed from practicing horn for my college auditions protected my skull from damage further than the traumatic brain injury I had sustained. When I entered university, I came out as transgender. It was a piece of myself I always felt I had to keep hidden, but in this foreign environment, I felt comfortable being myself.
Though I’ve felt happier and more like myself, it can be rather stressful. Society has expectations for what it means to be one gender or another; how one should act, how one should dress, what struggles one has, etc. The struggles of gender, or more so lack there of, has become one of the most defining qualities of gender, as the barriers among the other qualities are falling, slowly but surely. A couple weeks ago, I had been cat called for the first time by a group of drunk frat guys who were driving home. For a moment I was tickled, this is something that generally doesn’t happen to guys, thus reaffirming that in the late night, from behind I pass. The next moment it set in that this was harassment, the part of the gender that even the cis community doesn’t desire.
Identity is important, as it is what defines. Alongside my partner, Taylor, I will be researching the LEC in Milledgeville, GA. This center is for those with intellectual disabilities, using programs which encompass the arts, athletics, and horticulture. This program takes the identity established by the disability, and shifts it to focus on the activities in which the participants share.