After fifteen years, I am ready to be my true self.
BY MATTHEW DORON, ‘23.
I am transgender. If you do not know what that means, I will clarify. Being transgender means you do not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. For example, I was assigned female at birth and given the name Mia by my parents. However, I now identify as a young man and go by Matthew instead.
Looking back, the clues were there. There was something out of place, making me uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I was not stuck in the wrong body or mentally tortured, despite how the media portrays transgender people. There was just something off. Due to the strict gender stereotypes in our society, it was difficult to navigate this. I possessed many typically masculine traits, but I also enjoyed many activities that are deemed to be feminine. I want to clarify that activities and traits are not gendered, society has just conditioned it as so. Nevertheless, these gender roles made me feel trapped. I realized that no one naturally fits these stereotypes, and that everyone is a different combination of traits and identities.
Still, I grappled with myself, trying to figure out what was wrong. I eventually discovered the transgender community, but even then I doubted myself. Was I transgender enough? Did I fit the requirements? However, I realized that there are no requirements. There is no checklist or quiz. There is no right or wrong way to be transgender.
Even after realizing this, I was still hesitant. Some people, possibly even people I know, may reject who I truly am. I weighed the risks against the rewards and decided that living as who I truly am is more important than being rejected by others. As the saying goes, those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter. My parents, grandparents, brother and friends have been more supportive than I could have ever imagined. After 15 years, it’s not easy calling someone by a new name and new pronouns, but they are trying. People putting in effort to call me by my correct name and pronouns brings happiness to my heart. The key is to put in effort. It means so much.
I also want to take this opportunity to draw attention to the disproportionate rates of violence against Black transgender women. These women, along with Indigenious and Latina women, are the victims of the majority of the violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. On the occasion that their murders are reported on, they are typically misgendered and disrespected by the media while their murderers are often set free due to the legal strategy of “gay/trans panic,” a defense strategy that uses the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim as an excuse for violence against them, such as murder.
I have been, and always will be, an advocate for the transgender community. As I am now part of this community, it seems even more important that I use my privilege to help and protect others who are vulnerable.
Despite changing my name, I still love the name Mia. I was named after my late aunt Mira to honor her. Instead of using my namesake to honor her, I am going to use my life. I am going to honor her by carrying my name, both first and last, throughout my life with my head held high. My name is Matthew Doron and I am proud.