Transgender Visibility Within Communities

 Photo: GWTC

Photo: GWTC

Last week was Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Awareness Week, and Glendon was one of many institutions to hold an entire week in celebration and awareness. Each year, the awareness week leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance held on November 20th – a day dedicated to commemorating victims of transphobic violence. Glendon a organisé plusieurs événements tels que des sessions d'information, des soirées cinéma, Late Night Lunik et des groupes discussion afin de sensibiliser au sujet des problèmes auxquels les personnes transgenres et de genre non-conforme font face quotidiennement.

During the week, I had the opportunity to speak with Alexia, a transgender woman and Glendonite, who spoke at the Trans Flag Raising during opening ceremony. In the following interview, Alexia openly discusses her story and expressed the way the issues faced on a daily basis affect her mental health.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: My name is Alexia Rein Frankcom, I am a second year student at Glendon studying linguistics and languages. J'ai 22 ans et je suis une femme transgenre. J’ai commencé ma transition il y a un an, après en avoir parlé avec ma famille.

I would like to take a moment to thank my mother and her side of the family for their continued support throughout my coming out and the start of my lifestyle and medical transition. They’ve all demonstrated true unconditional love to me for which I cannot possibly show enough gratitude.

Q: Quelle est l'importance de la semaine de sensibilisation trans?

R: Cette semaine, c'est la semaine de sensibilisation trans. J’ajoute à ce titre les personnes de genre non-conforme. I am a LGBTQ* community activist for rights, equality, and visibility within society. Je m’efforce d’informer tous ceux qui me posent des questions au sujet des personnes transgenres et de genre non-conforme.

Q: What do you answer when someone asks you what transgender and gender non-conforming mean?

A: In layman’s terms, transgender can be defined as an individual who was assigned one gender at birth but really is not that gender. This differentiates from gender non-conforming, which is when an individual feels that they do not fall into either traditional gender binary. The dysphoria a transgender individual feels tends to be much greater than that of a gender non-conforming individual. There are many types of transgendered persons: young, old, pre-op, post-op, and closeted, to name a few.

Q: How have various societal issues impacted your transition and mental health?

A: Every person under the LGBTQ* umbrella faces similar social struggles and issues. These include, but aren’t limited to: social out-casting, threatening behaviour in their direction, familial issues, and romantic confusion. As a community, we have made great strides in the right direction for rights, equality, and visibility. Despite this, we still face several roadblocks. Socially unacceptable behaviour is encountered wherever we go – hateful opinions, homophobia, transphobia, discrimination, ignorance… However, I haven't given up hope on my community. After Pulse, we came together. We came together for Stonewall, and for numerous other protests and civil rights movements to enact change.

Les jeunes LGBTQ* font souvent face aux problèmes de famille. Heureusement, ma famille maternelle m’a accepté, mais ce n'est pas le cas de ma famille paternelle. Souvent, quand quelqu'un essaie de parler de son identité à sa famille, cette dernière réagit négativement. Les parents rompent leur promesse d’aimer leurs enfants tels qu’ils sont. Je connais bien cette situation, puisque je l’ai vécue. Friends and peer groups often tend to be more supportive of one another than family because they most commonly do not consist of an inter-generational group of individuals. More often than not, people come out to their friends prior to their family. If an LGBTQ* person is fortunate enough to have found a group of like-minded friends that they can keep close and can confide in, they will speak openly about themselves.

Q: Do you struggle with mental health and if so how do you deal with those struggles?

A: The majority of the LGBTQ* population, not just myself, report feeling depression and anxiety. These can often be attributed to societal and home factors such as acceptance and fear of a change in behaviour directed towards them. I have dealt with numerous mental health flare-ups which vary in severity from a minor panic attack to suicidal thoughts and even attempts. During each of these times, I reached out to those closest to me for support. If it weren’t for those individuals, I am not certain of what my current state would be. Il faut toujours se rappeler que nos mots et nos actions affectent directement les autres. Offrez votre soutien à ceux qui en ont besoin, écoutez-les bien et pensez à comment vous pouvez les aider.

Q: How do politics affect societal understanding as well the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community?

A: Reflect upon the actions of society as a whole within the last couple of weeks. People of colour, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women, and the entire LGBTQ* community were watching the news coverage in sheer terror and despair. I was among these people. When I saw a Trump presidency was imminent, I started to shake, my anxiety flared, and I went into a near panicked state. Seeing society react the way it did sent me into complete shock. Even amidst all the chaos, I was happy to still see individuals who believed in unity, peace, love and acceptance spreading their messages and reassuring us that things will eventually work out (hopefully). This truly helped to restore what little faith in humanity I had.

Q: How do you feel about the Glendon community?

A: Glendon est un lieu très tolérant. Ici, on rencontre des étudiants dont l’origine, et la vision politique, religieuse et sociale sont très variés. Ces personnes veulent élargir leurs horizons et partager leurs opinions de manière respectueuse. Glendon est un endroit exceptionnel où l’on peut toujours s'exprimer sans soucis.