Quinn was selected as the 2016 beneficiary of our annual Dare to be Different benefit event. He is a student at Lycoming College who is actively trying to better his community for his peers. He has also worked very hard to navigate the arduous process that is transitioning. The Spectrum Alliance has been fortunate to be able to help in that process.
In 1996 I was born a blonde haired blue eyed bundle of joy, to poorly matched parents who saw the world in different lights. I was mostly a happy child, content to play by myself and loved to watch The Brave Little Toaster at my grandmother’s house. In 2002, my little sister was born, and I instantly fell in love with this screaming, smelly, squishy little human. I wanted to take care of her and protect her from the world. Secretly, I called myself her big brother.
When I began developing breasts in 4th grade, I was disgusted with the change. I wanted to wear a sports bra immediately to hold them down, but feigned excitement around my friends and mom because I knew I was supposed to be excited to look like a grown woman soon. When I moved in 5th grade, I had to make a whole new set for friends, and I realized quickly that the tough tomboy that I had been would not fit in with the city kids. I felt torn—should I stick to what I liked, or be more girly to fit in. Honestly, I went back and forth. I did both. In 2007 I got my period (6th grade). I cried. I felt absolutely disgusted by the thought of what was happening to my body, but I told my mom I was excited because I knew she was excited for me. I was more excited about the body hair that I was publicly humiliated about. That made me realize that what I was happy about was backwards for a girl; I was supposed to shave and be smooth and “sexy.” For a while I couldn’t wear tampons because of the pain (mental and physical). I put on weight and felt more and more uncomfortable with my body. I was shamed by society and my peers for not being pretty and skinny like my mom.
In 2010 I had my first real boyfriend (8th grade). I saw the naked male form for the first time. I was keenly interested and jealous of him, I wanted what he had so badly. My parents thought I was just “sexting” when in reality I was just comparing what I wanted to what I was stuck with. That year I grew larger breasts to my dismay. I came out in 9th grade as “bisexual,” meaning that I liked girls but didn’t know how I felt about men. My mother shamed me and bible slammed me with the pastor’s wife. I was simultaneously humiliated and enraged; I knew I had just lost the respect of the two most important female role models in my life. So I started a GSA club at my high school, against my mother’s wishes, to make a place for queer kids like myself. My mom countered with “you don’t need to hang out with those kinds of people.”
In 11th grade I learned what transgender meant and started questioning my identity. I looked back and realized that there were tons of signs from when I was a kid. I didn’t tell anyone for a year, when I came out as gender-fluid to my then-girlfriend. I knew I wasn’t a girl but I didn’t want to give up prom dresses and my dream of becoming a mother. By spring of my senior year I knew I was a man. I came out to my girlfriend and some of my closer friends. I bought my first binder and my first packer before graduation, and had to go back to wearing a lace white dress for graduation with all the other “girls.” Hearing my deadname called was one of the most cringe-worthy experiences of my life up to that point, and it happened again that December when I came back and graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program.
When I got accepted to Lycoming College, I knew it could be my chance to start over. I was going to school 9 hrs away from home, with no way for my mother to impact me as horribly as I imagined she would. She couldn’t ground me, take my phone, or cut off my contact with my friends anymore. I had control of most of my life. So upon arriving at school, I came out as “Quinn” and lived as male. All of my friends knew me as male, those I had met through Krysta accepted me immediately and I was just another guy on campus with them. Except that I was housed with the girls. Luckily, the Director of Residential Life understood my plight and I was moved to a single room, away from my super awkward roommate and onto a floor where I would meet two of the next year’s most influential people. Coming out on campus seemed like the easiest thing to do at the time, and honestly it was the first important independent decision I got to make about my social identity. I was the first transgender person to live “out” on Lycoming’s campus! There were downsides to this, of course. From deadnaming to misgendering to occasional outright discrimination and hate speech. However, there was a lot of good, too. When I came out, I became a go-to guy, someone to answer questions for other people questioning their gender identity. One man told me he wouldn’t have come out if it weren’t for my bravery and visibility; another was in my room when he let me cut his ponytail off and tried on my suit. It is moments like those that make visibility worth it: knowing I am making a difference in the lives of other LGBTQ+ individuals.
Since coming to Lycoming College, I have been involved with the GSA and served on its executive board, and founded a residential community called Equality Affinity Community Housing (EACH). I am involved in the education of my peers regarding race/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status and ability status, through my work with EACH. We pan and fund events not only for Lycoming College, but for the Williamsport Community as well. This group has made a big splash on campus and will be entering its third year this fall. I plan on continuing with the program until I graduate in the spring and leave it to the underclassmen who have joined these last two years.
I was kicked out from my family home two days into Christmas break of my freshman year for being transgender. Surprisingly, the months-long argument culminated in an explosion over a haircut. My mother was concerned that I looked too much like a “butch d*ke” and that my grandfather would have a heart attack upon seeing me when he arrived in a few days. We argued all day and finally she told me to leave. I ended up staying with my girlfriend and her dad. That same spring, I called my father and told him what happened. He told me that my mom was ridiculous and that “it sounds like you’re doing the right thing” but then had to go. I didn’t hear from him until a year ago on father’s day, when I called for the umpteenth time hoping he would finally pick up. He did, and promptly told me that he didn’t have a son, and that he would always view me as his little girl, and that the day I came out to him was “the worst day of [his] life.” We haven’t spoken since. The ironic part about my parents’ reactions was that my mom made it all about our extended family, who have taken it better than she did! I’ve had more honest-to-god curious and want-to-learn questions from extended family than I have from her. I’ve had more support regarding my transition from her family than from her. She has come a long way, though. We can see each other now, and speak civilly on the phone. I visit her when I am in town, and I called her when I totaled my car. The point is, it gets better. When I first began to stick up for myself it felt like I lost everybody except my girlfriend. But as time has gone on, I have made my own little family, and a lot of my blood family has come back to me (or made it known that they never actually left).
I started testosterone December 8th, 2015. In just a few days, it will have been a year and a half. I feel more at ease with my appearance daily, but the fight is far from over. After Spectrum helped me raise about $800 towards top surgery (something I will never ever forget), I have run into numerous snags in the road to getting the surgery actually done. Right now I am in the process of getting it all figured out, and I hope to have it done next summer, after graduation. Spectrum has helped so much in the top surgery process. Not only did they host a huge party/fundraiser to help me reach my goal, but the executive board have become mentors in a way. Kai has been very open and helpful about his own top surgery, helping me prepare myself for the good and the challenges. Kris has been wonderful in his help with the technical aspects of getting everything set up. It was so wonderful to meet these people and have them be a part of my journey, and I am so excited to meet the next DtBD recipient and help them on their journey too!