By KATIE VACIO
People who identify as transgendered possess a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex.
In the spring of 2015, the world’s media were hit by a whirlwind of news that retired Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner identified as a woman, and officially changed her name from Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner.
Since then, “the ‘T’ in LGBTQ+ has become a little more understood.
Shows like “Orange is the New Black,” “Transparent” and “I am Jazz” have worked to normalize the transgender community in television, to the point that society doesn’t think any differently.
A local Tucsonan, 19-year-old Mason Alexander Leeson, was born Kyra Leeson and came out as transgender in the spring of 2016.
“I have been very fortunate in my experience coming out,” Leeson said. “I only had a few people who didn’t agree and felt it changed our relationship in such a way that we couldn’t continue to be friends.”
Leeson mentioned that the only time he felt discriminated against was in bathrooms.
“I have had people in both men’s and the women’s be slightly apprehensive toward me; never to the point that they have said something or physically harmed me,” he said.
Leeson made a point to only tell a few of his closest friends when he decided to come out, who were a huge support, he said.
“While not all my family members were immediately on board with my gender and the idea of me transitioning, they all have started to try in switching my pronouns and name,” he said.
The two parts of transitioning, Leeson said, are socially and physically.
“Social transitioning involves the following: telling friends and family, getting a haircut, dressing more masculine or feminine, changing their name,” Leeson said.
“Physically transitioning involves hormone replacement surgery, top surgery, bottom surgery,” Leeson said.
Leeson transitioned socially first. Then he started his physical transition about a year after and said he has been on hormones for three months.
Leeson said growing up Mormon while coming out as a transgender man was not an ideal situation.
Leeson said that being transgender was not a topic he grew up discussing with people.
He said anything outside of the “cisgender or heterosexual norm” wasn’t really discussed.
“Now, had I not grown up religious, does that mean it would have come up sooner?” Leeson asked. “Probably not, but it’s a nice thought.”
He mentioned having a religious background has had more than just an effect on when he found out.
“There are some mindsets from having grown up in a strong religious family that have been hard to get away from,” Leeson said. “It can sometimes be hard to get through, but I still would not change how I was raised.”
With the influence of the media, Leeson felt that being transgender is now a more normal thing.
“(The fact that) it actually gets talked about was a huge influence in how I figured out my own gender and ultimately led to me coming out to my family and friends,” Leeson said. “I feel it just depends on the person’s situation. It can either encourage or deter someone from coming out.”
When asked about the ban on transgender people joining the military in August, Leeson said he was extremely upset over it.
“Mostly on the notion that he (Trump) was banning an entire group of people from serving in the military,” Leeson said. “I’m still pretty upset over it, but most of the trans people I personally know are liberal and have no want to join.”
He added that since Trump has become president, he has felt a lot less safe with his rights as a human being.
“He has shown little to no regard for the LGBT community where Obama fully supported it and made sure to protect our rights,” Leeson said.
Whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or asexual, we all have blood in our veins, a heart in our chest and a brain in our skull.