by Kate Sweeney

Kindness and Courage: Aaron

AGE: 27

Pronouns: He/Him/His

How would you describe your gender identity?

I am a Trans man.

What has been the most surprising aspect of transition for you? It’s crazy having the opportunity to see how the world treats you as two genders (female and then male). The difference in how I’m treated and how I feel about myself when I’m passing is phenomenal. It really makes me passionate about social issues like women’s rights and rape culture.

In your experience, what’s been the best thing about living authentically? When someone uses the right pronouns, my day is made. If someone calls me “sir,” I’m walking on air for days.

In your experience, what’s been the biggest challenge related to living authentically? Dysphoria and anxiety related to my chest and my voice. I’m constantly misgendered because of them. Some days I feel like I have to put on a costume to leave the house. I can’t wait for top surgery!

What kind of environment is Central Ohio for a TGNC (Trans or Gender-Nonconforming) person? While we don’t have the resources of say, California or New York, Ohio has a thriving Queer community. I feel most at home while surrounded by the Queer and TGNC community in Columbus.

What question(s) do you wish people would stop asking you? Why? My partner is MTF (transitioning from male to female) and people often ask us, why are we transitioning if we love each other or why we felt the need to “switch.” Being transgender is something that is a part of us regardless of where we are in life. We both came out as trans before we met. We are stronger together as a couple who is wholly themselves. I don’t love my partner because she’s trans, I love her because of who she is as a person.

What do you want to share about your experience as a TGNC person that most people might not know about? Most likely, the people who have known you the longest are going to have the hardest time adjusting to your transition. If you have someone in your life who doesn’t understand or who rejects you, take it one day at a time. Be true to yourself, go to counseling, find a good doctor and support system. It gets better.

What’s a book, movie, or TV show you’d want people exposed to so they could learn more about the TGNC experience? Why? American Horror Story: Hotel. The story arc of Liz Taylor on that show is the best portrayal of a trans person I have ever seen. They got everything right, in my opinion. It made me cry to see that on such a popular show.

What’s the most interesting thing about you (unrelated to your gender identity)? I was struck by lightning when I was 6 years old.

What do you think is the most important concrete action allies could take to help support the TGNC community in Columbus? Talk about pronouns! Defend or correct when someone misgenders a TGNC person. Get in the habit of not assuming gender identity. If you can’t tell, ask!