Olivia Jaramillo

by Olivia Jaramillo

Being part of the LGBTQIA community can be equally daunting, scary, and special. I attended a talks session in Salt Lake City put together by the Equality group of this state. They are amazing individuals, and I had heard they always have interesting events. This time the speakers were a gay movie set creator, an African HIV awareness activist, a lesbian slam poet, and a genderqueer artist and writer whose studies in gender are bringing awareness to the whole spectrum. It was moving and also made me proud to hear the stories and how other members of our community overcame struggles. This sounds like it was just all around a great time, but there was more to it. It made me see how some of my own struggles were mirrored in their experiences.

When we start realizing who we are and what we are, it can be scary. The fear can be from not knowing why we feel the way we do. It can also come from the fear of being found out, of being discovered in our closet. Many of us initially begin cross-dressing and eventually make our way out for the first time in heels and wig, a dress that doesn’t flatter us, and makeup that is to forget how we even put it on our faces. Then comes the fear of being out and about, and not knowing what other’s reactions will be. So we start coming out in baby steps. We take drives in “femme mode”. We walk around our neighborhood, and some find online groups that have gatherings once or every other month to just be with each other. It’s scary because what will happen if our partners, our families, or our friends find out. Then comes the daunting.


Once you start stepping out into the world, you start going to pride events, to support groups, maybe even start volunteering at your local LGBT center. Can we remember the first time we met someone like us? A person who made you see yourself in somebody else? What did we notice about them? Did they carry themselves better than we did? How did they do it? We asked ourselves, “Do I want to be as manly as him or do I want to apply my makeup like her?” Then we notice others, the ones not trying to fit into the binary: the genderqueer. We ask ourselves why are they not trying to “pass”. Why are they ok with being so androgynous, and not caring what pronouns are used on them? Things start crossing our minds such as questioning our own gender identity all over again. “Maybe I feel like they do, maybe I am ok being part male part female? What if I have this whole being trans wrong? What if they have it right and I am trying too hard? Am I trying to pass as a guy just to fit in the binary? Who am I really?”

The truth is you don’t have to be anybody but yourself. The daunting aspect of being in this community is that there’s so much diversity that it can make us question who and what we are. Sometimes it’s daunting because we may feel we are “too old” or “not cool” to be part of the young vibrant LGBT community. Whatever your concerns are, do not be worried by this. We are all young and will someday be old, and we must be there to support each other, if we are young, then we should be there and help the older ones, as we will one day be in that boat, and if we are older than help out the young with advice on life and the hard road it normally paths through. Once you immerse yourself into this, you will realize and see how beautiful and special it is to be trans and part of the wonderful diversity.


This brings me back to the talks session I attended. Listening to the different speakers made me realize that we can be gay, lesbian, trans, and become someone special in the world. We can construct movie sets and bring worlds to life. We can fight HIV in Africa and bring awareness and education to people to ensure we eradicate this disease. We can change opinions with prose, enlightening those who hear it. We can change the world by educating everyone on the wide gender spectrum, and showing that it is completely fine to fall anywhere within the spectrum. What matters is that you feel yourself, and live life as yourself and to the fullest.

Personally, I do my part in advocating for the trans community through my writing and my existence as an Active Duty military member, and by showing that we aren’t what the far right media makes us out to be. We are showing the world that trans people are capable of great things. Those talks made me see that there are others doing amazing things on a larger scale. Sometimes those advocates may feel so distant from us, since we only see them through our smart phones or tablets or televisions, but they are real and they are fighting for us every second of every day.

No matter what you are doing, being trans and just going to work, or to the movie theater or to the bank, you are actively advocating for us by showing the world what trans looks like. You are part of a special unity of love. Remember people are scared of the unknown. One step at a time, come out into the light and stop being unknown.


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