For months, Rylie had been questioning her gender identity. A graduate student in electrical engineering, Rylie turned to the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) on campus to help her sort through conflicting feelings, and to find support and camaraderie.
“I initially joined the GSC as an ally,” said Rylie, who serves on the Peer Education Team at the center, “but I was questioning my gender at the time. In October, I realized I was trans, but I didn’t know how to get help. The GSC was able to connect me with a trans-friendly therapist at CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatric Services). Coming out to myself was something I wasn’t able to do before. Talking to others helped me peel back the wall I had put up, but it hasn’t changed my core identity, who I really am.”
Rylie’s experience has enabled her to begin interpreting her life experiences through the lens of gender identity. She has decided that in order to live a full and satisfying life, she wants to change some aspects of her presentation to better reflect how she feels about herself.
“I’m finally understanding why a lot of things didn’t go well for me socially throughout my life,” she said. “It’s helped me realize why I’m more comfortable being around queer people than non-queer people. I tend to isolate myself from most social situations, because people expect me to be a guy. But I’m not a guy. I can be myself when people don’t expect me to be a certain gender based on how I sound or look.”
Rylie has come out to only a few people and has chosen to keep her identity a secret for now. She plans to begin hormone replacement therapy to see if it’s right for her as a next step in changing her gender presentation to better match her gender identity. She anticipates someday looking in the mirror and seeing the person she knows is inside.
“At the GSC, I can be around people who get me,” she said. “When I use my pronouns there, nobody asks questions. It’s a great place with lots of resources and a safe place to share experiences.”
Since 1995, the GSC has served lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and allied (LGBTQIA) students, staff and faculty. The GSC works closely with campus departments, organizations and community groups to provide programs, services, information, advocacy and support for all campus communities. Everyone is welcome to come to the center to check out resources, get involved and make friends without any assumptions about people’s identities.
The GSC is located in the Center for Community, room N450. For office hours and more information, go to www.colorado.edu/gsc/
Join us for the 12th Annual TRANSforming Gender Conference from March 8 to 10, 2018. Graduate students are invited not only to attend the conference, but also to feature their work in transgender studies. Past topics have included scholarship on media representations of the transgender community, and gender-inclusive pedagogies. To register and view full schedule visit: https://www.colorado.edu/gsc/conference