When I was first contacted about conducting an interview with Kristen, I honestly did not know what to expect about the subject. Transgender in the Trump Era gave me the impression that it would be a lecture on current events or gender studies from an English professor; but in fact, it is going to be far more personal. Considering a great part of the presentation will focus on personal experiences, we discussed a fair bit about her past. During the early 2000s, Kristen told me over the phone that she was studying for her PhD before deciding to enlist in the military. Before this point, she was struggling with her gender identity, having been “assigned male at birth” (known as AMAB).
Special thank you to Bruce Gilchrist for getting us in touch with Kristen for this interview and for making this poster!
After many years, she decided to purge her desires and reject all progress by attempting to embrace her masculinity. She came back from the war, got her degree, met her wife whom she eventually married, and got a tenure track job, but her past feelings of her own gender identity began to resurface. She mentioned that it was a very long process and that she had a very hard time coping with these feelings; but now that she has accepted them, she has never been happier. She currently lives in North Carolina, a state known for its arguably extremely transphobic legislation. It is worth emphasizing that her situation is not representative of all transgender people, but her experiences still allow for one perspective on an issue which can be very polarizing. She is actively living in the United States during
this time as someone who has transitioned, and is still active in the trans community. This is her perspective on the subject. She was telling me that the media does not fully portray the political situation, and it can be rather confusing as Canadians. For example, President Trump has been trying to place a ban on transgender people serving in the military for a while now, voicing his opinion on Twitter and in the media; but it is worth noting that there have been many trans people who have served for the military and many who are currently deployed abroad. It has been argued that the President is actively attempting to negate civil rights and liberties through his numerous attempts over his presidency at implementing transphobic laws. While it is scary for those who are currently being impacted and actively oppressed, she pointed out that there are actually some positives which come to light. Other than those who are going through the process of transitioning or have very strong feelings on the subject, most people would go through their lives not actively thinking about or meeting trans people. Through media and pop culture, a dialogue has been opened on subjects often overlooked. The entire talk was extremely enlightening, and I would strongly urge anyone who has even the mildest interest in attending the talk do so. From a Canadian perspective, it can seem that the United States is taking a rather extreme stance on this subject, but the dialogues being discussed could have a far greater impact in the long term.