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Handicapped and Transgender
Who knew two forms of oppression could collide in one person? I didn't until that person was me. Along with having to explain to professors that I require accommodations for my classes (note taking, extended time on test, why I walk in class ten minutes late, etc.) I also had to explain that I went by Carson, not my legal name they had on their roll sheet back before I legally changed my name.
At times, more than not, the conversations were very awkward. Once a professor who was a massive ally for the LGTB community looked at me and enthusiastically asked, "What cup size are you getting?" when I explained to her that I would be absent for a few classes because I was going to be recovering from top surgery. I had to explain to her what I perceived as obvious, that I'm female to male and not male to female. The kindhearted, elderly professor looked at me with bug eyes as she stated, "Wow! You look like a real guy! I would have never guessed that!" I deciphered whether or not I should have face palmed myself in front of her.
You wouldn't think that a person with a disability and a transgender individual would have anything in common, but I've discovered major common grounds. In both aspects, I have felt as if my body has been my enemy. Cerebral palsy causes me to constantly move; it's as if I live life on a jackhammer. Simple everyday tasks such as, eating, pouring a drink, doing dishes can be challenging. And half of the time I end up making a complete mess that my wife has to clean up. Recently, my nephew spent a weekend with my wife and I. That weekend included boogie boarding, rough housing in the pool, and endless games of catch with a football. After completing two out of fifty successful cannonballs, my "bad" knee began to buckle on me. Yes, I'm 26 years young and I have a "bad" knee. By Sunday night, I tricked my nephew into watching David Bowie's Labyrinth because my knee needed a time out. Even though watching my nephew's reaction to Bowie's creativity was priceless and awarded me with being deemed "The Cool Uncle", I was frustrated that my body failed me once again.
Often being transgender can be described as "being born in the wrong body". The psychological term is gender dysphroia. Prior to having a double mastectomy, I could never relieve the anxiety I had about how I perceived my body and wondering if I "passed" that day. Again, my body was my enemy. I would wear oversized, baggy shirts to conceal the lumps on my chest. However, I could fix this part of my broken body. Unlike the rest of my body, this one part could be repaired. Nowadays, I run around in swim trunks and tank tops with my head held high.
Having a disability and being transgender did instill resiliency within me. I believe that while I may stumble over life's hurdles at times and strike out on that mysterious curveball, I'll always have the willpower to overcome adversity. Perhaps the challenges that caused me to be ashamed of my body were the same ones that allowed me to develop a strong backbone.