- Chelsea Wong
Eli and Kit on the Truth of Being Trans
© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri
What does it mean to become your truest self? Trans identity through the eyes of Eli and Kit.
Every individual experiences being trans differently, where they all engage in different journeys towards exploring their identity. Unfortunately, according to Stonewall, at least in the UK, trans people still face a large amount of abuse and inequality. Galop found in recent research that in 2020, four in five trans people experienced a hate crime in the prior 12 months. While many trans individuals in the UK can live rewarding lives, transphobia can cause harm and distress, making it difficult for them to live lives of safety. INJECTION interviewed two amazing trans individuals with the hope of exploring the depths of being trans and what it means to be comfortable within your own identity.
When Eli and Kit first realised they were trans, both were enveloped by fear. Eli grew up in a Christian household, surrounded by a community of heteronormative, patriarchal views, including the rhetoric that being trans was a ‘sin.’ Kit felt unsafe in the environment he was in, meaning he ended up suppressing his realisation of being trans for four years to keep himself safe. Eli went through something similar, as they too tried for a long time to distance themself from “feelings of dysphoria and the knowledge [they] weren’t cis.” Often, the realisation of being trans can be an upsetting one to experience, not because there is something wrong with being trans, but because of the societal norm to be cis. The family someone grows in can have a massive impact on culturing one’s identity. Eli feared that the realisation of being trans would cause a rift between them and their sisters. Where Kit ultimately became estranged from their family. Now, both of them are managing to reclaim their identity. Eli feels much more comfortable in their trans identity, learning a lot about their relationship with their body and self-perception. Since becoming estranged from their family, Kit has managed to come out as trans during university, something he never thought he would be able to do in a safe environment.
As social creatures, humans need some sort of support network to survive and thrive. Especially having to go through such a tough journey, there are things that can make it easier for trans people in a world that has yet to fully accept them. “Having a queer partner fully supporting my journey and self-exploration lifted such a weight off my shoulders,” Eli states. Their partner managed to rewrite the narrative they could be loved despite not ‘relying on femininity,’ something they were constantly told in the past. They also speak of the importance of having the community, knowing and loving other trans individuals to be lifesaving, giving them hope for the future in knowing and witnessing the tremendous power of other trans people.
Kit lists three things that made his journey easier: the internet, trans friends, and good cis friends. He mentions the accessibility of the internet, giving him a “wealth of information on the existence of trans people, resources on transitioning, and other information about being trans.” Like Eli, Kit too spoke of the importance of community, finding great resources in his trans friends. One gently prompted him to act on things such as wanting to use different pronouns or another who suggested access to private healthcare. After becoming estranged from his family, Kit found love elsewhere. His best friend is a cis guy who showed continued support upon him coming out, giving him the confidence in the love and support others would give [him] in the future.
While many issues, such as transphobia, make it difficult for trans individuals to live normally, there is also a profound joy in them reclaiming their identity. After acknowledging their trans identity, it allowed Eli to honour parts of themself they were once taught to hide.
“Never in my life have I felt closer to who I truly am, and there is so much joy in feeling like you can “come home” to yourself. I’m learning to love myself in ways I never thought possible.” ~ Eli
Kit finds immense joy in being part of the trans community, giving him (and others) the space to educate each other and create a place that was non-existent when they were younger or when it was too early in his transition/journey to understand himself. Being in contact with other trans people on social media can show up in a different way cis people can, such as when he was helped to understand himself by a trans friend or him helping a friend beginning to come out to themself, which made him feel emotional.
“I hope to continue that cycle later in my life, to fight for the next generation of trans youth.” ~ Kit
While resources are continually growing, the best source of information is from trans people themselves. Eli states how being trans “is not a choice, a fad, or a new phenomenon of the 21st century. Trans people have existed for as long as humans have walked the earth. We can be found in every culture across every continent and century. We are everlasting, and that’s because we belong here.” Kit mentions how being trans is "a journey of understanding and accepting yourself, figuring out what is best for you.” Coming out as trans gave him the freedom due to skills learned in finding and fighting for what was best for them. His journey meant after five years of being terrified to come out as trans; he was instead greeted with warmth, encouragement, and truth to himself.
“I no longer felt I had to be scared to be honest about my truest self aside from my gender.” ~ Kit
Kit mentions that finding out someone else has come out as trans brings him the purest joy to see others become their truest selves. A friend once told him she thinks “queer people often know themselves better than straight people because we have to fight through so much and spend time reflecting on ourselves just to be able to get to a place where we can live our lives as the truest version of who we are.”
“No one would choose a life of marginalisation and violence and othering. We honour our transness as a matter of survival, and denying our existence will not erase the fact we exist. These rigid binaries and labels society insist we subscribe to are rooted in our oppression – yours, too, not just mine. Let go of the narratives you’ve been taught and help us write a better, safer future.” ~ Eli
Both Eli and Kit have a newfound life inside them as they reclaim their identity through being trans. While they feel grief knowing not everyone will always fully support and/or understand them, they are now able to feel e in their day-to-day lives without constantly facing challenges of being perceived incorrectly. They, and every trans person, should be continually reminded they deserve to be loved exactly how they are. As Eli states: “You don’t have to understand us to respect us. Walk in love, always. ♡”