Imagine you’ve felt out of place your entire life. Going into the men’s locker room makes you uncomfortable and you envy all of your female friends for developing breasts and for the softness of their voices. Imagine wanting all of those things, but because of the gender you were assigned at birth, you don’t have them. This is what Zoey Seely faced before she decided to transition.
Originally born as Colin Seely, from the age of 15 Zoey always knew something didn’t feel quite right.
“I almost had this feeling of jealousy,” she said. “It was like — I wasn’t attracted to my female friends, but more envied them, I always felt so awkward being grouped with males.”
After realizing her identity, Zoey decided to begin the process of confirming her gender in March of 2016. She says there is more to the transition than most people think. First, you have to tell your family and loved ones that you don’t feel comfortable as your assigned gender. Then, once you come out, you go through the social transition — asking others to refer to you by your gender identity. This particular change is divided into two processes, the physical and the social.
“During the social portion I changed my name on Facebook to Zoey, instead of Colin, and ask[ed] others to refer to me as my preferred pronoun, which is she and her; for the physical, I started to wear female clothing.”
The last segment of the transition is the medical. This is the most prolonged and expensive portion of the transition. It involves talking to a psychologist to determine if you are ready for the prescribed medication that replaces your current hormones. Next, comes the surgery, which can be difficult. Zoey says that she wants to undergo the process in the near future, but it’s a matter of cost and preparedness.
“It’s been a difficult process. Of course, you have to find a strong support network, save up money for surgery; and for someone like myself who doesn’t have insurance, it can be very challenging.”
As far as having a support group, Zoey says most of her friends have been very open and accepting of her transition. She says they even seem to be more supportive of her.
“They have been a lot happier because before they could tell I was hiding something,” said Zoey. “I put a mask on all the time to try and present a strong, male figure. While it did work for a while, I started to become depressed and closed off, but now that I’ve come out, my friends see me as a much more open and engaged person.”
Zoey’s social circle has been understanding of her transition. Her parents have, as well, but Zoey says that it’s been a bit harder for them to understand. She says she is fortunate because many other parents kick their children out of the house and onto the streets.
“They’ve reacted as well as I could expect them to, despite them being 71 and 56 years old,” she said. “I just had dinner with them recently and I don’t think they’re quite used to it yet. There is still a lot of misgendering and pronunciations and since they are older, they don’t really understand any of the processes that you have to go through for the transition. My dad always associated transgender people with drag queens.”
Zoey also said she waited to tell her parents for a long time because she was afraid of how they would react.
“My mom — I wasn’t so sure; we don’t have as close of a relationship as I do with my dad, but you start to put those feeler questions out there to see how they react to things. When I talked with my dad about the whole Caitlyn Jenner thing, he would always refer to her as Bruce and said she was the ugliest of the Kardashians, but the fact that we are still close means that he is coming to terms with it and accepting my identity.”
Across the United States, a large portion of the transgender population faces relentless discrimination, especially in cities like St. Cloud, which tend to be more conservative; but Zoey says people on the SCSU campus treat her with decency and respect.
“The only thing that really happens on campus when people interact with me is that they won’t call me by my gender pronoun. They will say “thank you” instead of “thank you, ma’am.” Outside of campus, it’s a little different — I will walk into the grocery store or Crossroads Mall and people will give me strange looks as if something isn’t quite right.”
Zoey says that while she has had an easier transition than most, she is starting to feel some of the sexism that comes with being a woman.
“Since transgender can go both ways, girls transitioning into boys seem to have an easier time than boys transitioning into girls. In most peoples’ eyes, there is nothing wrong with becoming a man because they are claimed to be the privileged species, but the other way around is more difficult since people don’t understand why someone like myself would want to give up that privilege.”
She also had to say that she is willing to talk with anybody who doesn’t understand her lifestyle or has any questions regarding the process.