Starting uni as trans...

In the lead-up to going to University, I had absolutely no intention to admit to anybody – least of all myself – that I was trans. I’d talked over the issue with the friend who knew the (almost) complete situation around my thoughts on my gender, and was advised to take things very slowly, and not rush into any form of transition.

So, on the drive up to Newcastle I focussed on the excitement of starting University and tried to ignore the feeling that with my decision to ignore my feelings on transitioning I was wasting the perfect chance for a fresh start. I introduced myself to my flatmates with my birth name, and we got along famously. It was only after I started my transition that I found out that two of my flatmates had to seek confirmation that I was a girl and they weren’t on a mixed floor; imagine the ego-boost! I was on an all-girls floor, and although the lasses were ridiculously lovely I still had a sinking feeling in my stomach when I realised the situation. I couldn’t bring that up with anybody without outing myself, or sounding particularly odd at least, so it became something I tried to ignore.

I’d visited the stall for the LGBT+ Society at the Freshers’ Fair, I’d missed the first few socials. Something inspired me to join a social on a Monday night, and despite it being the blur of faces and names the first month of University inevitably is, I came away with a definite feeling of having found a good group of people who would accept me as Jen the gay female, or whatever else I decided to be (another plug for LGBT+ societies, seriously, they’re great things).

As I got closer to the people I lived with, I opened up to those I was closest to, and told them that I’d been questioning my gender for years, but it wasn’t going to go any further with it than wearing very short hair. It was that unquestioning acceptance and encouragement from people who had no reason on earth to support me that must have caused a shift in my mind, and around a month and a half after starting University I could be found an emotional wreck asking my flatmates to call me James and treat me like a man. Both the lasses from my floor and the lads from the floor below were highly supportive, and commendably un-phased by the whole affair. After a fair number of slip ups, I was James, in the flat at least. I came out to the LGBT+ Society less as a group, and more my telling people when it fitted into the conversation, and letting the news disperse that way. Again, everybody was awesome about it, some asking me why I’d bothered trying to hide it in the first place. My tutors as well, were wonderful, treating me with the upmost respect and making sure I had the information on how to get my name changed on the Uni system. In fact, I can’t commend Newcastle University highly enough on their stance on trans students and their commitment to help. With an emotional phone call to my parents (I’d rather have done it in person, but wanted the dust to have settled somewhat by Christmas) and a message to my school friends, I was James to all my friends and family and was over the moon being recognised as the person I’m happiest being by those who matter to me most. I’ve been very lucky to have had the support I’ve been given, and am aware of it and grateful for it every day.

After transitioning I became even more involved in the LGBT+ Society, identifying as both ‘G’ and ‘T’. It’s given me a hatred of Tuesdays, with the inevitable weekly monster hangover from Monday socials, but it has also made me far more aware of LGBT+ issues, and I’m very proud to be the society’s Co-President for 2014/15.

As far as advice for any person already identifying as trans, or feels it’s something that may apply to them, I would say that it is perfectly natural to be scared in the run-up to University, but truthfully, people have enough of their own worries to spend time thinking of yours. When it comes to it, the majority of people want to see those around them happy, and will adapt to your needs with regards to names and pronouns so ensure that you’re comfortable.

James Davison