| May 14, 2018

How do I define myself? How do others define me? Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?

Deep stuff, I know. These are questions most of us have asked ourselves sometime in our lives — Especially transpeople.

Who am I?

Anyone who is my Facialbook friend knows that I engage in some debates online (shocking, I know.) Not too long ago, one of the posters in a discussion mentioned that being transgender “does not define [her.]” Fair enough.

I’ve been thinking about that a bit. The knee-jerk reaction is something like “me neither!” but is that the truth? How DO I define myself?

I think of my “dead” self. Who was he? Well, in high school, I defined myself as a loner — an outcast. That was partially by choice, as I had a dark secret that I couldn’t under any circumstances have anyone figure out.

In college, I let my fraternity define me in most ways, but overall I defined myself as a Penn Stater. As the alma mater says we don’t know the Goddamn words I mean May no act of ours bring shame, To one heart that loves thy name… I took that very seriously, and still do. It doesn’t mean I didn’t screw up from time to time, but I knew, as a Penn Stater (then Penn State alumna) I was a reflection of my school. And my fraternity.


Wearing Letters

After college, I still defined myself as a Penn Stater. I also saw myself as scarred and flawed, as I kept losing relationships, and my drinking started to get out of control. When I married, I defined myself as a Husband. Eventually, I defined myself as a drunkard.


Halloween 2008. My Truth smashed through the barriers that had held it for twenty five years. Now what? I didn’t know who or what I was. I resisted my Truth, as I knew the consequences were dire. But, as the saying goes “We are born with this; we fight it as long as we can, and in the end it wins.”

I was an emotional wreck. I liked to say I lived two lives, but really I didn’t. I lived once a month — for one night. My night as Sophie. Eventually, that wasn’t enough.

My life collapsed. I lost my marriage, my home, and my best friend within three weeks. All of this was because of This; because I was Sophie. Transgender.

My definition of myself then? I really didn’t have one, short of “soon to die.” I’ve written many times about that horrible spiral into Darkness. Obviously, I am still among the living. I think. *checks* Yes, still breathing.

So how do I define myself NOW? I came out in March 2014, and have been Sophie ever since. Do I define myself as a Woman? Transgender? Freak?

Well, I still define myself as a Penn Stater, and as such an ambassador of my alma mater. I am still a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, but so few people give a damn now — just my brothers — so it no longer defines me.

When I worked at the book store, so many people told me that I was “an ambassador for the transgender community,” because I was working in a very customer facing position. For many of the customers, I was the first or only transgender person they knowingly met. And I paid the price in Pain. Misgendered. Insulted.

I endured it quietly. My soul died a little each time.

Some ambassador.

Yes, I define myself as Transgender, as, without surgeries, I will always walk between genders. I define myself as a Penn Stater. I define myself as an American.

I define myself as a Human Being.

That should be all that matters.

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Category: Body & Soul

About the Author ()

Read Sophie's blog here. View her contribution to The New York Times transgender stories article. She has also been featured in an article on

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