As delightfully charming as I try to be for the dinner guests, one of MY pet peeves is when people ask me how gay people feel about something. I want to put my index fingers to my temples, squeeze my eyes shut and then say “Oops, sorry. My psychic connection to the brains of all the few million LGBT folks wandering the globe is out of service today. Must be a tower down. Let’s try your question again later.” I have always found the best way to get insight into another person’s world is just to ask them. Respectfully, accepting that it may be none of my darn business and I will be told so, but asking.
I first met Peter at an Equality Fest planning meeting. Peter is a transgender teenaged college student. As Peter transitions from the female gender he was assigned at birth to the externally male self he always felt he was inside, I asked if he minded me walking a few steps along side him. I needed a translator a couple of times. (I totally admit, I had no idea that the word cisgender was now the hip term to use instead of saying ‘female-born’ or ‘natural woman’ or ‘biological male’ because to say that implies that men like Peter weren’t born the way they are too. I get it now.)
Cisgender is a word that applies to the vast majority of people, describing a person who is not transgender. If a doctor announces, “It’s a girl!” in the delivery room based on the child’s body and that baby grows up to identify as a woman, that person is cisgender. – Time.Com
Sooooo…ladies and gentlemen, with his permission and my gratitude for his courage, I introduce you to Peter.
My name is Peter Fair and I’m 19 years old. I’ve lived in York for almost two years now and I moved up here to live with my dad after I graduated high school in 2013. Right now I spend most of my days doing LGBTQ work like helping with events and other minor things. I am a queer identified gender non-conforming transgender man.
Obviously there are many stereotypes to being queer and transgender such as all trans people are trying to trick everyone else with their gender identity or clothing choice or the bathroom they use. Or that all queer people are promiscuous. None of these stereotypes are true. Which is very frustrating to have to explain to people over and over again.
I wish people would educate themselves about sexualities that are not lesbian or gay. I know some people are mildly informed about bisexual identities but most are not informed about the rest of the “spectrum.” I wish for people to have a vague idea of what I am talking about when I say I am queer identified. My orientation and gender are some of the most important aspects of my identity in my opinion. It is especially frustrating as President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at HACC York that people would overlook many people’s identities and mark them as unimportant or even “wrong.”
My friends and I spend a lot of time at local coffee shops and at Central Market and at local school sponsored events at HACC York and York College of Pennsylvania. We also attend a local LGBTQ+ youth group every Thursday at the Planned Parenthood. The Planned Parenthood and the YWCA are both great resources for LGBT issues in York and have many inclusive programs for LGBT people. I wish there were more transgender specific and transgender inclusive programs in York however. Especially a doctor who specialized in transgender issues.
Something possibly unexpected about me is that I spend a lot of time reading up on politics and specific policy both at the state and national level. Right now I am mostly working on a community level, which to me means helping students and youth reach the goals they want to – especially like starting their own Gender and Sexuality Alliance in their school or helping them emotionally if I can. Doing work on the state and national level is more policy work. I was working on getting an Act called The Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act passed in the State House of Reps. and in the State Senate. Another time I worked to lobby national representatives in D.C. for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. I miss that.
Things with my dad are good and all of my friends are very accepting of all aspects of my identity. My parents struggle with me being queer more than they struggle with my identity as transgender. York is a lot different from where I used to live because I grew up in Northern VA fairly close to DC and things seemed a lot more accepting there. I rarely faced quite as open homophobia and transphobia in the community and in school as opposed to here. Academia has been a bit more accepting of my identity as being queer but I think mostly because it isn’t something that is always relevant to most conversations. My gender identity is something that is much more relevant.
Since I came out in sophomore year of high school I’ve come out again and again when my identity shifts from one identity to another as is more common with young LGBTQ identified people. It’s hard for me to pinpoint one ‘coming out’ story as I’ve had quite a few over the years. Now I don’t feel the pressure to “come out”. I just identify as what I am and when it’s relevant to tell people, I share that information with them.
Thank you for choosing to share it with US Peter! You rock!