In a few weeks, I am taking a trip to the city of my alma mater to meet up with some friends. The college I graduated from is an ultra-conservative religious college and is incredibly transphobic. As a result, I have not gone anywhere near the school since starting my transition. Unfortunately, several friends of mine settled down near the college and I have been unable to meet with them in person due to their proximity to the school. Now that I am out and in a pretty stable place, I feel confident enough to make a short visit.
Even though I won’t be going anywhere near the college itself, I am still incredibly nervous about being in the same town. The school was a massive source of trauma for me and it still looms large in my thoughts. To students and faculty, my closeted trans-ness was read as being gay and I was mistreated for it. Other students were frequently aggressive towards me and I was threatened with violence on several occasions. Despite high academic marks, professors refused to provide grad school recommendations or job references because they believed me to be gay. All the while, the school itself told me how unacceptable being LGBT is. It was one of the darkest periods of my life and an incredibly difficult place to realize that I was transgender. To me the college is not just an individual instance of bigotry, it is the very symbol of discrimination and transphobia itself. Being anywhere near it terrifies me.
It is because of how much baggage the school carries that I have made up my mind to go. First, I want to see my friends who live nearby. I have been putting off seeing them since I started my transition because I didn’t want to go near the college. Second, I need to get over my fear of the school. I have written off ever going near a pretty substantial portion of my state just because the school is nearby, which certainly isn’t healthy. I have good friends who live only a few hours away I won’t see because they live too close to it. I need to go if only to face my own fear and trauma.