By Courtney D’Allaird > Sociology > Graduate Student > University of Albany
Few things are generic about me: I grew up in a small town; I sing country music while driving; I barely graduated high school; I’m lucky I got into college; and I’ve always been attracted to women. My name is Courtney. It always has been, always will be. I was born female, but live legally as a male.
The first thing people ask when you come out as trans-male is, “Do you have a penis?” Then, “Do you want one?” If they don’t ask, they’re thinking it. I came out to my parents as a lesbian at 15 after being caught kissing another girl. I came out as transgender at 21. My freshmen year at SUNY Albany, I panicked when I was assigned to a female dorm. Thankfully, I befriended another trans-man. We lived together in disabled student housing, though neither of us was disabled. But we are disabled by society’s definition of gender.
I remember being late for class, and not wanting to walk in the door. I was an obvious lesbian as a girl with short hair. The moment I walked into a room, I felt everyone judging me.
Resources and opportunities have allowed me to live on campus as male. I take hormones that I will inject weekly for the rest of my life. I took extra money from my student loans to pay for chest surgery so that I could legally change my driver’s license to male. I now live in an all-male dorm. My roommates don’t know I’m transgendered, because now I’m just a guy.
That first testosterone injection was like holding Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, my own personal triumph. I had the license for legitimacy, but there were many twists along the way to feeling like myself.
The first time I “passed” as a man, I was working at a watch kiosk. I was used to people pausing with confusion after hearing my feminine voice. One day a man asked a question and when I answered, he didn’t even pause. I paused, realizing I had passed.
Some would say I’m living a pretty generic life now as a white, heterosexual male. I’ve discovered people listen to me more, respect my space and opinions. But these are not privileges I take lightly. I’ve been on the other side, when people rejected me for being a female attracted to women.
Now, I use my voice so others are heard. I’m the first graduate assistant for gender and sexuality concerns at my university, and I am working to change the way universities support LGBT students across the spectrum.
Transgender isn’t crossing gender roles—it’s society’s inability to recognize anyone in between. In that way my life will never be generic, even if my appearance makes it easier for others to accept me.
I am the only person who can truly define me. I wish everyone had this kind of freedom.