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I’m turning 21 in three weeks, and I’ve never really spoken about what it’s like to change your pronouns. I never came to the realization and internal conversation of what it’s like changing your identity through something so minimal yet is so crucial in your day-to-day interactions. 

I have used she/her pronouns all my life, and I never understood their importance until I came to college. It was something that I just kind of looked over and assumed to just be addressed in the way that people wanted to. I was always someone who felt more masculine than most, and I embraced it. I loved how I looked in a suit, I loved how I looked with short hair, and so much more. I love that I am now understanding that this is what I want for myself. 

I turn 21 in three weeks, and I have been out since I was 16. 

I turn 21 in three weeks, and I have never understood the importance of my self-identity and that it is okay to correct people if and when they address me wrong. 

I turn 21 in three weeks, and it took me five years to change my name and pronouns, and I have never felt more at home in my body than right now. 

I turn 21 in three weeks, and I am one of the only 2SLGBTQIA+ members in my family. I’ve never felt more comfortable in ostracization because of my values and social circle. 

During the second semester of my first year at college, I came to the realization that I was not embodying nor feeling that I was completely a woman, and I changed my name. A nickname my family gifted me when I was younger became my new identity. 

A family that no longer speaks to me because of my sexual identity and preference. 

I left and I haven’t looked back at my hometown since. I look at pictures and I get sick to my stomach because I only see the hurt and suffering that I had gone through just because I was lost and longing for closure. I never understood that my closure was to come from within myself. My heart breaks for my younger self. No amount of compliments or reassurance would repair the mental and emotional damage I had done to myself. No amount of education of those around me at the time would repair the bridges that were burned when I was lost and cried for help. 

I’ve made people uncomfortable with my identity. I’ve been profiled, insulted, framed, and ridiculed. By myself, especially. I’ve been kicked when down and left alone to figure everything out that I was so confused about. 

If you’ve come out or are thinking of it, let me remind you how strong and confident you are and just how much easier it is to breathe. Since then, I’ve relaxed my shoulders more, listened more, and even loved more. I was no longer angry and I’ve embraced the way I look in clothes, my presence in a room, and even my inputs in conversations. 

I’ve been using she/they pronouns for almost eight months now, and not a single day goes by where I don’t thank my younger self for being so strong and patient with everything I’ve put them through. Not a single day goes by where I regret what I felt and made myself feel. As a result, I’ve rewarded myself with an identity change and a new understanding of what I am in this life. 

JP is a born and raised Midwesterner, but now calls the desert home. She is a Junior studying English, Spanish Linguistics and Language, and Media Analysis. When she's not writing for Her Campus, catch her wreaking havoc on Twitter: @HansonJenna
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