So this is the end. I remember ever since I was a young freshman working at The Stanford Daily as a graphics editor, I dreamed of writing a column. And as I approach my last days at Stanford, I’ve finally fulfilled this dream.
It’s a bit surreal.
This column is dedicated to you, readers. I admit I would not have gone this far in my transition without writing this column in the first place. I felt that even if I had just one person reading this, one person to be accountable to, then I would do what I needed to do. I admit that part of the reason why I went off to legally change my name, start hormones, get that new driver’s license and so on was because I wouldn’t have had anything to write about for that week otherwise. So the very act of reading this column has helped me with my transition. You’ve kept me on my toes, readers, made me take the steps I needed to take that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was doing this by myself — because I admit I’m kind of a lazy person. So thanks, readers. I appreciate it. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.
And to my Stanford readers — thanks. Thanks for not only becoming aware, but doing something about it. Two years ago, a transgender student would not have been able to get a new ID without legally changing his or her name — a harrowing process that might take months or even years, depending on what state (or country) you’re from. But now, Stanford is taking the steps for transgender students to change their name and gender in the Stanford roster without going through the legal process. And during New Student Orientation next school year, one of my transgender friends will speak about her experiences in front of the entire incoming freshman class. That would have never happened when I was a freshman, or even at the beginning of this school year. Transgender people, for so long an invisible population, have entered the sphere of the Stanford community’s consciousness. My Stanford trans friends — they’re talking about us, aware of us. Yeah, there’s still a long way to go — although Stanford is probably one of the safest campuses for transgender people, that does not mean we’ve reached full equality — but we’ve taken great steps from my days as a sophomore, just coming out, scared and alone. I know that I’m leaving Stanford in good hands. I can graduate with no regrets.
But perhaps my biggest surprise from writing this column came from how many people ended up reading it — especially people outside of the Stanford community. What began as an experiment in self-indulgence that I thought my parents and a couple friends would maybe read turned into something completely and wonderfully overwhelming. Throughout the year, I received messages from all over the country commending me or giving me advice or just telling me a friendly what’s up. I’ve been able to attend so many events, connect with so many people both within and outside the Stanford community. To this day, I have no idea how this column got out to non-Stanford folk, but I’m glad it did. It revealed to me how desperately we need transgender voices out there. I’m not going to stop writing — and if you are transgender, you should think about taking up the pen too. Our LGB counterparts have a rich canon of literature compared to us. It’s about time we wrote and reclaimed our own classics. Let this be the generation.
From this column, I’ve come to a greater appreciation of my personhood and my masculinity. I’ve learned what it means to be a man — that although my masculinity is not a common one, it is still just as legitimate. I learned that my story is worth telling, that although I am different, people will listen to me. And for someone who has felt silenced and unacknowledged his entire life, to finally feel important even in the smallest bit — that’s done a lot for me. Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing to me. I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and I hope you learned a bit, too.
I suppose I should end with some encouraging, supportive words. I suppose I should tell you that I’ll have a successful, illustrious career in publishing or activism or whatever successful things Stanford grads are supposed to accomplish. But honestly? I have no idea what I’m doing next. School has been the focus of my life every year since kindergarten. I have spent the past four years living a privileged, safe, sheltered life at Stanford University, and now — I’m leaving all that behind, and I’m about to start the next chapter in my life. I’m a bit terrified.
Will you hear from me in the future? I hope so. So here’s to you, readers. There are no such things as goodbyes. I’ll see you later.
Cristopher is graduating soon! Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.