Caitlyn Jenner. Laverne Cox. Chaz Bono. These are the names you see in the news making headlines and driving change for the transgender community in 2015. They are only but three voices of the 700,000 transgender individuals living in the United States, a stat recorded in the 2011 “Gay and Lesbian Atlas.” Although they only makes up .02 to .03 percent of the population, the transgender community’s stories are often overlooked or shunned by the public when deserved to be heard. Issues such as backward policy for transgender individuals, violence, and discrimination must be talked about openly if any hope for change and progression lie the future.
One such hope for the future is Kent State sophomore and forensic psychology major, Alice Freitas, who is a recently transitioned transwoman. She’s faced much adversity with a non supportive family whom kicked her out once she transitioned, but Alice hasn’t let that stop her being who she’s known she’s meant to be. Alice says, “I remember back, very very young, three or four years old and realizing something was different…that I wasn’t quite in the right body. I used to hilariously over compensate for it. It was kind of funny. Whenever a girl’s commercial would come on tv, I would look away because that’s what boys did. Just so no body would suspect me.”
Recently transitioning this past August 2015, Alice spent her first year at Kent State as a boy, with this being her first semester as a woman. When asked if it’s been difficult to be a transgender woman in college, Alice states, “a lot people view being trans a hardship in college, I don’t view it as such. […] but I’ve actually found that being trans has enhanced my college experience. The year before I was out, I didn’t do anything but go to my classes. Since coming out, I’ve gotten to drive for policy change, meet with the administration on this campus, and been able to get more involved than I ever thought.”
One part of that policy change that Alice hopes to improve is the way blackboard display names are set up. The name that a student has is unable to be changed in black board and many times a photo is required. When the photo and name don’t match up for a person who has transitioned, it can be an embarrassing and frustrating situation for transgender individuals. “I’m really not that much different than anyone else,” Alice states. “ I think a lot of people assume that being trans is its own separate thing and that we’re trying desperately be special or different. When as a matter of fact, that’s quite the opposite. Really, really we just want to be treated like everyone else.
Another trans issue that Alice lobbies hard for is for violence against transwomen to stop. With the ignorance of many still unaccepting and not understanding of the trans community, acts of violence will often be carried out against individuals as a way of petition. Transwomen, especially, are victimized, with the journal by the Transgender health Program, Counseling and Mental Health Care of Transgender Adults and Loved Ones, stating that “98% of acts of trans violence are committed to males transitioning to females.” Alice, herself has lived with this fear of being assaulted and relived one recent incident: “The fear is here even down in Ravenna at the Wal-mart, where I recently was when two very large men followed closely behind me around the store. I was trying to get away as much as I could, cutting corners, but they just kept following me. If I hadn’t been around a big group of people, I don’t know what would have happened.”
Despite discrimatory laws and facing daily hardships and danger, Alice is positive and hopeful about the future of the trans community and urges others to be vigilant on trans education.“These things happen not because of action, but inaction. People simply standing up [for transgender people] and saying this is wrong, can do a lot.”
The only reminder Alice carries around of her former self, her license, which will not be able to be changed until she is 21.
A poster is seen displayed in the KSU Student Center to raise awareness about the LGBTQ community, and to let others know there is help and support. The sign the one universal restroom that transgender students must use in the student center. It’s located on the third floor and since there there’s only one, many times there is a long line for people to wait for it.
A very emotional piece written by a trans student in the 2015 edition of Fusion, Kent’s LGBTQ magazine.
Alice at the student center on December 03, 2015. On transitioning she states,”I was incredibly nervous, but that nervousness drove me in the right direction. And that’s how I got to where I am today.”