Every spring I am offered to opportunity to speak to a Human Sexuality class at Southern New Hampshire University. The first time I nervously undertook this assignment was literally three weeks after surgery. I've now spoken seven times, six more than I ever thought. And I love it.
I don't preach or talk at the students. I teach the important aspects of hormones and their effects, but I prefer fielding questions and answering what the students prefer to hear, not what I feel I should ramble on about. Some of the key things I try to reinforce is, throw away all stereotypes, don't fear what completely uneducated politicians want to scare you with, and in reality, I'm not different than anyone else in the classroom.
What makes it all worthwhile is, every year the students get it and often I find I have changed any preconceived negative notions to positive ones.
Below is a small sampling of some of the responses from my talk on May 21, 2014. I shared the unedited comments with a close friend and co-worker, Nicole. Her response it the last one. Though I my get discouraged from time to time, it's comments like these from the students and a co-worker, that I'm glad I'm "putting myself out there" for the education of the masses and for the benefit of the people that follow in my foot steps. For privacy sake, the names of the students have been deleted.
. I feel very grateful to have this first-hand insight into something I once could not understand.
I think Cynthia is an amazing woman! I included information in my discussion board about her speaking to us, but I also wanted to thank you for arranging with her to speak to our class. I think having Cynthia tell us from her perspective about her life, is so much more valuable than reading in a textbook. I found it fascinating that she has all the same issues and insecurity’s as any other woman does. Though I think she is brave for listening to what her body was saying and not allowing other people's hatred to take her life away. I think Cynthia's photo album showed us the answers to some of the questions we might have not felt comfortable to ask. I am grateful she shared her life with us for those few hours. One question I did wonder about that evening is; Cynthia mentioned she had low testosterone as an adult, and I wonder if she always had low levels of testosterone (as an adolescent) and if that could have had any impact on how she felt she was the wrong gender?
You certainly can share my praise of her, with her. She is one special lady!
I must say reading about and then talking to Cynthia has got to be my all time favorite experience while going to college. I have always supported LGBTQ organizations and rallies, but I have never had the opportunity to have someone openly discuss their life and thought patterns for going through with the surgery. Not only is Cynthia brave for telling her story to us and having it publishing it in the newspaper, but for being true and authentic to herself. I for one am glad she did not commit suicide. (Whenever I mention suicide I always include numbers to hotlines)
After reading the above, my friend and co-worker had the below amazing and reassuring comments to add....
WOW, Cyn. That’s great stuff. You give invaluable insight into a life that most people do not understand. Think about it, you were John for so long here, now you’re Cyn. This is a male dominated profession and after 6 years…..nobody even gives you a second glance. You are Cyndi now, and that is how everyone see’s you. Not as this freak, or weirdo, but Cynthia. You are a person, not defined by your clothes or hair, but by who you are. You’re a good person and most reasonable people will see you for just that. A good person, a good friend, a soul sister, a good employee, etc. Because of you, if I see a transgender person I don’t even give it a second thought. Cuz chances are they are good people just trying to find their place in this world like the rest of us. We all have our own way of going about it. There is no right or wrong.