During November people around the country participated in Transgender Awareness Month to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues that these communities face. The month of awareness featured some smaller celebrations such as “Trans Awareness Week” and the “Transgender Day of Remembrance.”

In Sacramento a local transgender youth by the name of Ronnie Swinburn recently wrote an article for the BHC Pride Action Team. I was able to interview him on the importance of celebratory months like these.

Kiara: What does it mean for you to be a transgender youth in Sacramento?

Ronnie: Personally, from experience I think that being an openly identified transgender youth in Sac or in general, makes us a prime discriminatory target not only from the cisgender community yet even occasionally within the LGBTQ+ community as well.

Kiara: Why is it important for young people to be aware of what it means to be transgender?

Ronnie: It is vital that other youth are educated on what it means not just to be transgender but the lifetime process it is, and the dysphoria that constantly occurs during the midst and in some cases even after a physical transition has been completed. Youth also need to understand that all “transgender” men and women are not unnaturally different than any other human on this planet because of how they display their personal life to society. I say this because individually, having our own differences in physical attributes, mental/emotional aspects, and overall consciousness is what unites us as a species of human beings.

Kiara: To your comfort level can you describe your transition and your journey? How was the acceptance and reaction? The hardships? Places you draw strength from?

Ronnie: I identify as an FTM (female-to-male) and I am pre-everything, which implies I have not started hormone therapy or had any surgeries, although that’s just a few of the factors within my personal transition. Most don’t realize that the “transition” itself is not only the physical process yet as well as a social transition for my close peers, family members and other correlations I maintain with associates in my community. For the most part I am fairly accepted/viewed as how I identify my gender yet every now and then I meet a handful of people who either mess up my pronouns since they never had to encounter dialogue with a trans-person or simply won’t acknowledge my proper pronouns and think my lifestyle is a “choice” due to them not being educated or having a authenticated idea of what it means to be transgender.

Kiara: What places are there for other transgender youth/people in Sacramento for support or acceptance etc.

Ronnie: Within Midtown Sacramento there is various places transgender youth or LGBTQ+ youth in general can go to for support, recreational purposes or even just to meet a new face. A few of those places I have been involved with or recommend is the LGBT Center of Sacramento or its extension of the “QSpot” where multiple weekly youth groups are held, the Gender Health Center which provides hormonal medical attention to those in transitioning also counseling services for youth and adults that identify anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum or even those who are cisgender, and the Lavender Library that I personally enjoy because of their brief selection of books on LGBTQ+ History.

Kiara: What do you do when someone gets your pronoun incorrectly?

Ronnie: When someone uses the wrong pronouns at first I tend to deeply interpersonalize it and eventually initiate self-doubt that I am not visibly presenting who I am on the inside outwardly thru my appearance well enough to be classified as the gender I identify. That alone begins what seems like everlasting.

To learn more about Ronnie and read about his journey visit: www.calendow.org