Places and Spaces: A Transgender Teenager Navigates Her World

Mar 8, 2018

Last month a judge in Cincinnati ruled that a transgender boy has the right to leave his parents and pursue hormone replacement therapy. He now lives with his grandparents. Most transgender people come up against state and local laws as they grow up in the country and Ohio. Here is a Dayton Youth Radio story from Sophia Horner.

I'm 17. I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. I go to Stivers School for the Arts, and I'm in creative writing and theater and I love it. It's one of the greatest places I've ever been.

I'm just your standard 17-year-old girl; I have an older sister and the cutest dog in the world. I like binge-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix and eating way too much mac and cheese.

But I bet only a few of you have ever had to think about what bathroom you go to in public. For me, this is a great ordeal, every time, everywhere because I'm a transgender girl. This means I was born in the body of a boy, but I'm actually a girl.

I realized this at the beginning of freshman year, and with the help of some of my friends, I began to accept this part of my life. One of my friends once said, "If you don't tell your parents now, in 10 years you're going to be a gross adult man, and you're going to hate yourself for missing this opportunity to tell your parents."

And then I told my mom. And about a month later I told my dad, and they have been very supportive ever since.

Now, in public places like McDonald's or Kroger, bathrooms can be sort of a weird thing. I remember being at Franco’s Italian restaurant on 5th street with my parents and needing to go to the bathroom and just standing outside looking at both doors and trying to decide, Do I go to the women’s restroom and risk not passing as a cis, or natural-born woman, and getting screamed at to get out? Or do I go into the men’s restroom and end up making myself very uncomfortable?

There is a serious issue of urinary tract infections inside the transgender community because we don’t feel safe enough to just go to the bathroom. There is also the issue that if something were to happen, the chances of it ending up on any sort of news report is so slim because these sort of stories about transgender people tend to fly under the radar and not get told.

So I did this story just to educate the everyday person about what it's like. I think it's important for everybody else to understand how stressful it is trying to figure out what freaking bathroom to use; no one should care that much.

Some people will say that rapists will claim to be transgender to gain access to bathrooms where they don’t belong, but from my point of view, as a 17 year old transgender girl, if someone is going to rape a person they will do it regardless of the law. So not only is this law wrong, in terms of human rights, but it also puts every transgender person in danger of being harassed or assaulted.

President Trump ended the Obama-era laws that protect transgender youth in public schools and their ability to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. This repealed law puts transgender students at less open minded high schools at risk in an atmosphere that is supposed to be safe.

I hope to inspire people to be more open and welcoming to the transgender people in their life. So I really hope that someone out there hears this and is inspired fight to be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity at their school or their workplace or wherever.

I hope I can start a dialogue between parents and children about issues like this because it really shouldn't be that deep; some people, because of hormones and chromosomes and whatnot, just get born in the wrong physical body, but their brains know what's up.

At the end of the day, all I want to know if I'm safe when I go to the bathroom because I need to pee just as much as the next person does.

Sophia Horner at Stivers School for the Arts. Special thanks Leslie Rogers and Eva Maksutis of the Creative Writing Magnet. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.stivers.org/ Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.