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Journey of Authenticity: Trans man shares his journey and surprise at RU welcome



By Alyxander LaBranche

Publications Team Editor


I am a transgender man, which means I was assigned female at birth and raised socially as a girl. However, my feelings on the inside didn’t match up to how people perceived me on the outside.


I was always strongly inclined toward what was considered masculine or traditionally male

interests. For example, when playing the board game “The Game of Life,” I would choose a blue peg to put in my car. In video games, I would consistently customize male characters. My clothing preferences leaned toward T-shirts, hoodies, jeans or shorts rather than ruffled tops, skirts or dresses.


Unfortunately, these preferences were often met with resistance from the only parent I had.

We grew up in poverty, and through a school program I qualified for, I was set to receive a duffel bag filled with clothes. When I attended the event, we were given the opportunity to choose our own clothes with the assistance of volunteers.


Unsurprisingly, the volunteer assigned to me was a woman. My expression displayed my

discontent as we navigated the girl’s racks filled with vibrant pinks, yellows and oranges. She scanned me, dressed in a black and red basketball T-shirt and blue jeans, and took it upon herself to inquire about my color preferences — whether I leaned toward bright

or dark colors. I responded, mentioning my affinity for reds, blues and blacks. She acknowledged the abundance of bright colors in the girls’ section and suggested exploring the boys’ selection if I was open to it. I agreed.



Upon returning home that day, eager to share my newfound items, my mother responded angrily and violently. She insisted that I should have chosen girls’ clothes, viewing my choice as a failure to complete a simple task. I found myself in a dilemma, having to choose between the two shirts I received or the coat, since I was not allowed to keep all three. Ultimately, I chose to keep the shirts, and my mother stood firm on her stance, discarding the

perfectly good coat into the garbage.


Puberty is Always Complex


Puberty, a universally acknowledged transformative phase in human development, is

a subject that often elicits mixed emotions from society. This was particularly complex for me due to a unique hormonal imbalance from a young age, sparking an early onset of symptoms resembling precocious puberty. Thus, uncommonly, by the time I began kindergarten, I already bore physical markers such as pubic and armpit hair. 


My pediatric physician expressed concerns to my mother about the possibility of me starting menstruation and developing breasts at an extraordinarily young age. Despite this, I turned out to be relatively late in that regard, for which I am eternally grateful.


I have always believed and stood firm that despite my challenges and my unique circumstances, I believed God made me this way, and I embrace my identity as a transgender person. During my primary education, I encountered resistance from my peers due to my appearance and behavior, which differed from my female classmates. 


The recollection of the first instance I was called or questioned about being gay or lesbian escapes me, as it became distressingly commonplace by the time I entered high school.

By the time I came out as queer, slurs and disparaging comments held little to no power over me, having no impact on my self-worth.


Trans Journey Starts at 15


In my sophomore year, I encountered Bailyen, a trans man, who took it upon himself to label me as trans. Initially denying it, I eventually embraced my identity and came out as Alyx during the winter semester of my sophomore year. Thus, I began my social transition at age 15.


Almost every educator I encountered was kind, supportive and a shelter from the storm that I

considered my every day. Among the sea of hate I received, I still had accepting friends and

supportive allies.


Despite these affirmations, I delayed coming out to my mom, recalling the resistance I faced as a child. I eventually did so, and all the grudges and trauma aside, she came through it as well as she could, and I respect her for it. The strength and confidence often attributed to me stem from my ability to showcase my identity and personality without visible fear. Anyone opposing any aspect of my identity finds themselves unwelcome in my life. I shield my self-worth from their negativity.


At 19, I furthered my transition, working on masculinizing my appearance and understanding

what qualities define my individual identity as a man. A significant turning point came when I joined a FTM* support meeting hosted by Affirmations in Ferndale. I was later connected with Dr. William Powers in Farmington Hills, who connected me with a licensed therapist to complete informed consent paperwork. A couple of weeks later, I began HRT*, which further solidified my sense of identity.


New Name Honors Grandmother


By age 20, I applied for a legal name change through the Michigan Circuit Court. Opting to honor my late grandmother, whom I was initially named after, I took her maiden name, LaBranche, to preserve a connection to familial legacy. I am content with my progress in my transition, but I remain open to potential future treatments and changes.


In August 2021, as I neared the completion of my associate’s degree at community college, I chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. While searching for potential universities, Rochester

University emerged as a promising option that would accept my transfer credits and offer

financial aid.


Upon learning that RU was a Christian college, I began to form expectations, recalling historical and systemic mistreatment, hostility and violence that countless individuals of the queer community have faced because of organized religion.


Anticipating my integration into campus life, I initially planned to be stealth*. However, personally, I find greater comfort in living out*. I prefer to share this fundamental aspect of my identity, once I’ve established a sense of ease in any given environment. It’s an integral part of who I am, shaped by my past experiences and socialization as a young woman

rather than the upbringing and experience of young men.


Ru is Inclusive


My perspective shifted after enrolling as a student in fall 2022. I noticed inclusive signs in faculty and staff offices and, more importantly, observed their genuine and respectful manner

while interacting with others. This environment encouraged me to share my identity openly and live authentically with faculty, staff and fellow students.


To my surprise and immense pleasure, I found a welcoming community where my authenticity was accepted and celebrated. I proudly live my life as a trans man, embracing my role as a member of this community, embodying the spirit of a Rochester University warrior.



Glossary


FTM - FEMALE TO MALE

An individual assigned the female gender at

birth who has transitioned and now identifies

as male.


HRT - HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Medical treatment often used in transgender

healthcare to help individuals transition to their

affirmed gender.


STEALTH

Trans individual’s physical characteristics align

with their gender identity and social passes as

their affirmed gender.


OUT

Self-disclosure of an LGBTQ+ individuals sexual

orientation or gender identity.



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