| Aug 28, 2023
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As I write this, the sun sets on the first Saturday in college for 9600 new freshmen at Penn State. Their journey here is just beginning. I don’t remember my first college weekend, but I’ll bet I went home to see my girlfriend of the time. The journal from that time is long gone and has been for decades. I think my mum threw it out. I’m not sure.

I’ve been back at PSU for four years now, which is longer than I was here the first time around. Since I transferred up in undergrad, I only did three years here the first time around, and the last semester was student teaching, so I wasn’t here. Story of my life- not here.

line of freshmen

Freshmen head to convocation.

I’ve written before that I work for the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity here on campus. This year, I worked at a lot of the orientation events, which means I met a lot of LGBTQ incoming students, including several transgender ones. They all seemed excited to hear about how PSU is ranked as one of the best universities for LGBTQ acceptance. They loved the fact that there was a place on campus just for them at the Center. I told them that being LGBTQ at Penn State is really no big deal.

That was sort of a lie. For THEM it’s no big deal. Their generation is far more accepting and forgiving than my generation ever was. Generation X is known for not giving a damn about lots of things, but when I was college age, being LGBTQ meant a beating. After all, that was the era of Reagan, and we still had no idea about how AIDS was spread. It was still seen as a “gay disease.” Yes, we were very wrong. Many died.

I still get dirty looks on campus. At one orientation session, a parent called me a groomer. I still get called “it.” I know my place- I’m an outsider, like the first time around. This time I’m old, fat, and transgender. Then I was a transfer student, socially inept, unwanted by women and my fraternity. I had my Dark Secret feeding the Darkness in my soul. According to a woman I knew back then, I “radiated anger.” Who would want to be around that?

Times are hard for transgender people now in the US. I’ve written about it a lot, as have many others. It’s all over the news. We’re the New Enemy, responsible for all the ills in the country. Life would be better without us, says the GQP.

According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, 1.5% of people 18-24 in Pennsylvania identify as transgender. Using that number, 144 of the new freshmen here at Penn State are transgender. I wish them the best. PSU has great gender care. Here they can get hormone therapy as well as doctors who know how to administer it. They can get care from gender specialists. Truly, their lives are just beginning. May they never experience the Hate that my generation, the ones prior, and the others that walked this path before them endured.

Maybe someday we’ll be accepted. Maybe someday being transgender will be no big deal. I don’t think that day will be in my lifetime, but maybe in theirs. Maybe enough of the prejudice will die off and leave them with better lives.

Story of my life- I won’t be here.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

Sophie Lynne

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