LGBTQ has become a common acronym throughout today’s media. While many people struggle to remember the designated identities of the acronym (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgender, questioning/queer), those that do understand the community may not have a connection to each of the letters represented. For Gender Studies Students, PRIDE and Women’s Center members, and others, Thursday, November 10th eradicated this lack of connection with the introduction of Alex Pangborn.
Alex is a female-to-male (FTM) transgender person who has visited Bentley for several years, speaking about his experiences. Most people do not think twice about their “junk.” However, transgender individuals often feel a disconnect between the gender that they are born into and the gender they feel they truly are. This can be an extremely uncomfortable experience for such individuals. As Alex explained, many people do not have the language to explain what they are feeling. Our society is fixated on penis=boy/ vagina=girl that it is rarely considered that someone with a penis could feel like a girl and vice versa.
Through his conversation in the classroom and in the more casual atmosphere of a PRIDE/Women’s Center joint discussion group, Alex provided insight through his development and discovery of finding an identity that really felt right for him.
Looking at Alex, one would be hard-pressed to find an ounce of femininity. With modest, dark facial hair, strong arms, and a laid-back stance, his presentation was that of any other man walking through the Bentley halls. However, Alex’s extensive regimen of hormones, as well as surgery which removed his once-large breasts, there has been a lengthy medical history that brought him to this point.
However, the transition from girl to boy was not overnight. Alex shared stories of his adolescence, explaining his lesbian relationships, experiences with other queer people, and his final discovery of what trans. Like many of the students present, Alex had never met a trans person. Once he did, he had what he describes as a “light bulb moment.” The confusion and discomfort that had plagued him for so long finally had a solution to be calmed.
Speaking with Alex was especially exciting and enlightening. The trans experience is often portrayed in media as a traumatic one. While no doubt Alex went through some incredibly difficult times through the process of his transitioning, he now is an out and proud queer, serving as an advocate for the entire LGBTQ community. He has a loving partner and supportive family, as well as a schedule of presentations similar to the one he gave at Bentley. Meanwhile, he is also pursuing a degree in nursing, hopefully taking his knowledge of being trans to the medical field in an attempt to make it a more friendly environment for individuals beginning a journey similar to his own.
Alex was living, breathing proof that it does get better. Whether lesbian, gay, trans, ally, black, white, yellow, WHATEVER, Alex is so secure in what he is doing and giving back to the community that brought him to where he is today. Speaking with him truly provided a sense of support and inspiration that all of us can use in our experience and help change the world.