Amelia Gapin shared her story and her experiences as to what it is like to be a transgender woman on Oct. 10 in the Ceddia Union Building multipurpose room.
Gapin is an athlete, a software engineer and a blogger. She was the first transgender woman to be on the cover of Women’s Running Magazine. She began her speech by stating that this is the first speech she has ever given about being transgender, and she is not a public speaker. Instead of being seen as a public speaker, she simply wanted to be seen as someone sharing their life experiences.
“I would describe being transgender as a never-ending assault on your identity,” Gapin said. “From the moment the doctor utters the words ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl’, our identities are dictated on to us.”
When Gapin was born, the doctor announced “it’s a boy.” Her family as well as society told her to like sports and “boy things,” as Gapin described it. However, Gapin said she identified with the female characters she saw on TV.
“Even at a young age, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to tell people this. I didn’t know why I wasn’t supposed to. I knew I was supposed to like Batman — not Batgirl,” Gapin said.
She first heard the word transgender when she was in college. When she was younger, she only knew of the term “cross-dresser,” but it was not putting on clothes that made her feel like a girl. Gapin said it instead felt like an external expression of something internal.
She said, “I would go to bed wishing to wake up a woman every single night that I can remember of my entire life.”
Discovering the word transgender made Gapin realize it perfectly described her and that she could be a girl. However, after the transition process, she said the assault was now not only on her identity, but on her entire existence.
There is a lack of acceptance for transgender people, she said. People who come out as transgender are often kicked out of their homes, lose custody of their children and lose their jobs.
She also covered other topics about issues transgender people face such as violence, being mis-gendered and being told that being transgender is a mental disorder when it is actually a medical condition.
To conclude, she gave tips on how people can become allies to transgender people. These tips included not asking intrusive questions, using correct names and pronouns and speaking up for those who are transgender.
“When you hear something transphobic — say something,” Gapin said. “And of course, amplify the voices of trans people, but don’t speak for them.”