Guest post by Andrew Trudeau
It is my pleasure to introduce you to people whose lived experiences will help you to have a better understanding of what it is like to be transgender, or the parent of someone who is.
I met Andrew Trudeau when he was in college, and now he is engaged to marry my son Leo. He is big-hearted, witty, and charming. When he accepted my invitation to share his coming out story on my blog I was thrilled. It’s one thing for me to write about coming out as an ally, or what it’s like for people in the LGBTQ+ community to come out. It’s even better if they tell you themselves.
My story is not that different from others within the LGBTQ+ community. It starts with a relatively insignificant utterance from the mouth of a three-year-old girl in her mother’s lap. A beautiful wedding dress and an even more beautiful bride that I just had to point out to my mother, flipping through pages of the magazine.
“Mom, mom, I want to marry her.”
I was never forced within my home to abide by the dress code of society. My parents reserved that only for special occasions and most importantly, Sunday church. Occasionally, there was a baptism, or wedding, or first communion that I dreaded. Just the thought of having to put on a dress was enough to make my stomach lurch. What I wanted was just something more comfortable. Little did I know the comfort I sought would come with my first pair of slacks in college.
Next up was middle school. And with that, sports. I was now old enough to compete through school, while confined to the basement room of my parents’ house for home schooling taught by my mother. Soccer was the worst. Middle school soccer teams are hard enough to play on, let alone be liked by the other girls. Playing the sport was a breeze, but off the field, socializing with teammates was another world. At my first basketball sleepover, I was terrified of making someone uncomfortable or saying the wrong thing. I carried this feeling with me in some way or another throughout my first experiences with school sports and into mainstream public school. There were boyfriends, school dances, and even some occasions when I spent time with my music friends that helped shape my socialization. Track & field was easy enough, and summer swimming was just fun.
Middle school and high school were the years I fought to discover my sexuality.
Summer after high school graduation, August 2018, I hand wrote a letter to my best friend. How cliché, I fell in love with my best friend. She was younger than I by a few grades, but what a firecracker she was. I fell head over heels for a musical jock who looked at me so strongly that I could barely hold eye contact. A handwritten letter was my way of coming out to her. For everyone else, it was a post on Instagram. The reaction was positive, to say the least. She took it well, and we had a summer romance that was short-lived. We broke up as soon as I got to my freshman year of college at Castleton University. It was here that I learned the most about my sexuality. It was here that I made the most mistakes, which felt on par for a college experience at a liberal arts school. Unknowingly, however, these four years would give me the clearest view of my life and that I will never forget.
After two full seasons on a D3 women’s basketball team, I was struggling. School, bad relationships, and my basketball performances were going downhill fast. It ended a few days into preseason during junior year. Late two days in a row, I walked into my last warmup only to hear the head coach tell me to leave. I was effectively off the team and crushed, to say the least. I am forever grateful this happened because I needed to learn this lesson. I needed to hit my lowest low to find a new path through my struggles instead of ignoring them with bad relationships and bars.
I found music again. Then music turned into theater, and I met my people. People who I did not have to convince just to be allowed. It was a series of conversations about graduation credits and needing only one more credit to complete my undergrad. Stage production and a weekend performance of Guys and Dolls were enough to give me the chance to meet a person who would help change my outlook on my gender and sexuality. I realized I was transgender after learning about it from my Fiancé, Leo. He took a chance on me in the costume shop of the musical my senior year. I had known what it meant to be transgender for a while but had never thought I could be under the umbrella of this fantastic identity.
Coming out in terms of sexuality is more accepted now. But having to come out regarding gender can be much harder.
Since Leo and I have been in each other’s lives, I have grown more as a human being than ever before in my life. I have stretched out my hand and taken hold of my gender and sexuality as I have grown confident enough to be able to identify as a bisexual-trans-masculine man. Now in my life and my work as an aspiring clinician, I am happy to tell this story to those who listen respectfully. Through my coming out story and the reactions I have had from so many people, I would pick this way every single time.
As for my parents, I have not talked much about their feelings regarding explaining my transition. But only ask them to respect my identity now. And hope that they carry their love for me through their words and actions as parents of not just one, but three out of five queer-identifying children.
I look forward to a day when there is no need to “come out,” but rather space for LGBTQ+ people to share as they need to and have conversations to educate the people who choose to listen.
Andrew Trudeau graduated from Castleton College in 2018 with a BA in Forensic Psychology. He works as a case manager at Rutland Mental Health in VT, helping youth to have a better understanding of who they are and how they fit into the world. In his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, watching YouTube, creating cartoon art, supporting his fellow LGBTQ friends, and staying active. You can find him on Instagram at @niftyshadesofdre and on Twitter at @andyscandys34 .