This week starts Transgender Awareness Week. The Volante interviewed three transgender students, all from South Dakota, to speak about their experiences and how their trans identity affects their lives.
William Kayser, senior criminal justice major, said that growing up in Sturgis, SD he was masculine so when he transitioned it wasn’t an issue for those around him.
“I didn’t really lose friends over it,” Kayser said. “Everyone was pretty accepting of it like the older generations don’t really accept it but that’s just how they grew up.”
Kayser transitioned in college and became involved with USD Spectrum: Gender and Sexuality Alliance. He served as president and is now a student adviser for the organization.
“So I’m (Spectrum’s) student advisor now so if anybody has questions about transitioning I kind of point them to where I went and how I found it and who would be the best doctor to go to,” Kayser said.
Even though he has been taking testosterone for over a year and a half, Kayser said there’s still ups and downs with his journey transitioning.
“It’s kind of like a continuous feeling or battle; some days it’ll be really bad or some days it’ll be really good,” Kayser said.
Now presenting as male, Kayser said more than his appearance has changed in the past couple of years.
“My confidence for sure has gone up because I feel more myself. I’m still the same person but I’m more likely to vocalize how I feel because I feel like I can,” Kayser said. “Before I was seen as a female and so like men or people wouldn’t take me as serious, but now presenting as a male, I get my voice out more and people are more likely to listen to me or my ideas. I’ve noticed I’ve been a much happier person, just because I feel more comfortable.”
Although Kayser believes his story is uncommon, he knows that many people transitioning aren’t as lucky.
“I think that my story was very uncommon but it’s also known that trans men don’t get affected by a lot of that because they aren’t ‘losing their masculinity,’” he said.
Kayser’s girlfriend, Ravyn Grimm-Hansen, is a former USD student and Vermillion native. She said she has had to deal with more discrimination than him in school.
She remembers how she was labeled the “gay goth kid” in high school and even though she knew it wasn’t right, she didn’t fight it.
“I was labeled that so I just rolled with it because I didn’t want to be harassed over it because I had been bullied,” Grimm-Hansen said.
When she did figure out her identity of a non-binary or feminine presenting, she said she was aggressive about it but has now learned to embrace who she is.
“I was rude and aggressive and blunt about it,” Grimm-Hansen said. “After a while I realized that being male-to-female I needed, for my own sake as well as others, to embrace more of the niceness and the femininity and kind of be a more caring individual. Because when I first started out I was very hateful about it.”
Dylan Daniels, a sophomore pre-nursing major, is also from Vermillion. He remembers a big step in his transgender identity was related to his love of music.
“I think one of the big steps for me was when I went to Lawrence, Kansas for this girls rock camp that I helped out at,” Daniels said. “I was a band coach there and it was super cool but they’re just like ‘what are your pronouns’ and I didn’t have to be like apologizing for myself.”
Daniels said that he just started his testosterone therapy and will continue to document his journey and through his music.
“It’s also weird because you’re looking back at these songs and you’re a totally different person,” Daniels said. “I’m continuing to document that and write songs so I guess my music is evolving with me.
Along with his music, Daniels also wants to create a “mini document” to follow the upcoming changes that will be happening.
“Behind the scenes right now I have somebody that’s working with me to record stuff on video as I go along and I’m writing songs and recording the whole process and journaling and stuff,” Daniels said.
Trans Awareness Week
In honor of transgender people who have been killed throughout the 2018 year, Spectrum will be putting out transgender flags on the north lawn of Old Main Wednesday night. These flags will symbolize those who were killed because of their transgender identity.