Jennifer Simmons

by Jennifer Simmons

From the painful views of someone who has never met a transgender person and has misconceptions of who we are, to the people who congratulate our bravery for living our own lives, to the people indifferent to the issues, every opinion has an interesting view of how we as a people are perceived. So I decided to ask around to people I had met in the last year and see how or if their views had changed after getting to know me. I just wanted to ask one simple question and see where the answer took us.


Sean is the owner of a gym and a MMA fighter. Even though he and I have not met face to face, he is Mandy’s personal trainer and has heard of me through their conversations. I emailed Sean and asked:

How, if any, has your opinion changed after getting to know someone in the transgender community?”

Sean’s response:

“I’ve never really thought about what it is to be transgender until the past 5 years or so. I hadn’t had much understanding of what it even was or what the whole process was like until about the same timeframe. It’s kind of one of those topics I think most people try to avoid thinking about because it can be so hard to understand or relate with generally.

Recently, over the past year, I can say hearing the stories from Mandy about you I have a new perspective which I appreciate. I spent some time thinking about it and considering how different it is to wrap my head around and I do think humans have androgynous moments. I think men have more problems dealing with this than women at times due to social constructs and potential implications towards masculinity.

Women are often scared of being too masculine, but I would say overall men handle this much more defensively. Hearing about your situation and ability to go through the considerations let me understand a vantage point I may not have otherwise. I think a very important thing I’ve realized is how innocent the whole process can be, which may sound odd to some, but I think it’s important to realize where someone sits mentally with all of this. I try to empathize and have perspective enough to consider what it all is and means. Hearing of you raising your daughter and wanting a very simple life is interesting to me. I mean the whole thing is dealing with sexuality and that revolves around the thought of sex in general, but when you start to see the life someone hopes to have and the simple small things they work towards, it helps me understand it a bit more.

Wanting just to work, raise a child, and make friends is a pretty innocent life. There is nothing about it that screams ‘look at me’ or ‘I’m confused’ at all. If anything quite the contrary and I find this to be most comical when you consider some of the people that talk the most s#!t and speak out against transgender rights hardest because some of those people are some of the least trustworthy, reliable, or mentally stable people you may come across. The irony is quite specific and almost entertaining if it weren’t for the potential for unnecessary harm being done for virtually no reason other than someone else’s lack of understanding.

Overall I appreciate your transition and you want for a simple life you can be happy in. I can only imagine what it must feel like living a life where you don’t ever truly feel like yourself. Life is hard enough with the existential crisis’ we go through on a regular basis without that gender identity issue, so having a road where you can actually be yourself is important to help us explore even bigger questions that will come up through life. A human is a human and a human with good intentions is a useful human working towards the bigger goal. I personally never had any big issues or problems with transgender people, but more than ever I am accepting and opening up to the idea that it will be more common and people are people regardless of their identifications. I’m more concerned with people’s intentions than I am their identifications. “

My stepson Tom is college age and in his late teens. We have grown to have a pretty open and honest relationship with each other. He tends to choose his words wisely so I wanted to catch him off guard and get a raw answer.

How, if any, has your opinion changed after getting to know someone in the transgender community?”

“What kind of question is that? I don’t know. Nothing really.” he mumbled as he rolled his eyes at me.

“You are full of it! Give me an honest answer. I know some of what you thought but I want to know from you.”

He pondered for a minute and responded:

“I expected to meet a flamboyant weirdo dude. Every transgender person I knew of was on Jerry Springer or Caitlyn Jenner. I didn’t expect a normal person. If I was becoming a woman, the last place I would want to be is in a men’s bathroom.”

Brittany is Tom’s girlfriend and also in college.
How, if any, has your opinion changed after getting to know someone in the transgender community?”

“The first thing that jumped out at me was I did not know that you could be transgender and be sexually attracted to men and women. I always thought it meant you were attracted to men then I met you and found out that its separate from your gender.”

Frank is a coworker of mine who found out a couple of weeks ago. He is in his 50’s and found out a few days before the announcement was made.

“How if any has your opinion changed after getting to know someone in the transgender community?”

“I was like what the f\#@ when I found the memo on your desk. Honestly I wasn’t snooping I just happened to see it and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. I won’t lie to you. I wigged out and went home losing my s#!t. It was actually my kids who looked at me and said “wtf is your problem?” After they put it in perspective I figured what is the big f&$#ing deal anyway? In the last year I have had four of my coworkers retire and leave. Now I have the same job with these new faces and it scares me a little. So I kind of freaked out because I threw that stress on you and that’s not how it should be. You do you and screw anyone who has an opinion on it.”*


Asking around opened my eyes to the perspective of those outside looking in. It also left me with a clear map of where I have been lacking in educating those around me. I had to bite my tongue when listening to things they said wrong because at the end of the day I am the teacher and I assumed that they knew.


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