Not a Freak

March 1, 2016

At the bright, young age of 11, Alexander Rudin (‘19) began searching the great-wide-web. But unlike the typical preteen adolescent, Rudin was not simply searching the internet with mindless intentions; no, instead, he was focused on a search for identity; his identity. The internet, though for some so remote and disconnected, was actually the entity which first provided Rudin with a sense of belonging. Through scrounging through pages upon pages of medical websites, Rudin was able to find a “category”, which, for the first time, he perfectly fit into.

From that moment of discovery, Rudin knew exactly who he was supposed to be. Yet, despite his inner assurance, a difficulty still persisted— coming out to both his parents and his friends.

“Coming out to my Mom was significantly… difficult because she wanted a girl and a boy… but she is growing to understand that this is who I am and learning to become accepting of it,” said Rudin. “I came out to my father in the car and I said ‘Hey Dad, I’m trans’ and he said ‘Hey, where do you want to go for lunch?’ and that was that.”

Despite his Father’s positive response, Rudin’s struggle with coming out was still greatly intensified, due to his diagnosed anxiety disorder. Avoiding coming out face-to-face to his acquaintances, Rudin instead made a Facebook post. Still, even the idea of just the social media post made Rudin apprehensive.

“I wrote out [the Facebook post] a bunch of times, and then I would delete it… then finally I had a version I was satisfied with and one of my friends had to hit post for me,” said Rudin.

Though coming out was a generally quick process for Rudin, picking a name that truly fit was not such a simple task.

“I went through so many names. At first I asked my friends to call me Ari, but that had already been a nickname that they had called me before, so I couldn’t get into the mindset that it was a guy’s name,” said Rudin. “And then for a little while I asked them to call me Benjamin…and that lasted like two days and then Sam lasted about an hour; Asher lasted for about two months.”

But when Rudin’s friend finally called him Alex, something simply “felt right.”

“It felt like they were saying my name,” said Rudin, “they were calling me by what I should be called by.”

Sadly, transitioning is often misconceived as one’s personal choice. But this won’t stop Rudin from dispelling this notion and continually imploring the comprehension of what it truly means to be transgender.

“I feel like people think that I’m choosing this for myself, which I think is mainly because they are not educated about gender dysphoria and about being transgender,” said Rudin. “They don’t understand that it’s not a conscious decision.  I didn’t just wake up one day and decide that I want to go through all of these terrible things just for the hell of it… I’m going through this because this is me.”

Though Rudin is indeed able to freely express himself for who he is at East, he still feels that more can be done to change the way he is treated by other students.

“There are times where I’ve been called an “it,”… a tranny or a dyke or other derogatory terms” said Rudin, “most of these instances happened in school,” said Rudin. “I feel like East does have rules, and it attempts to enforce those rules, but they’re often not enforced well enough or just aren’t taken seriously enough by the students.”

Not only does Rudin feel that East students can improve their behavior, but he further feels that teachers must have a more profound impact on LGBTQ+ issues, rather than just acting as bystanders.

“One of my big concerns is that teachers see people hear or do things and they just stand there,” said Rudin. “Like, I was in the hallway and this girl was talking about me and she said ‘oh my god, the tranny dyke is looking at me!’ and there were teachers there and nobody said anything.”

Because of this lack of teacher support, Rudin did not feel comfortable enough to assert all of his rights as a student.

“Last year there was this group of kids who would shove me and I did not know that counted as harassment or bullying; I didn’t know that I could talk to somebody about that, so I didn’t,” said Rudin.

If his teachers do not stand up for him against bullies, how can he be expected to trust and confide in them?

In the future, Rudin remains optimistic hoping to start ‘T’ or Testosterone at age 16 and, after that, receive both top and bottom surgery once gaining legal consent at the age of 18.

Above all, Rudin is grateful for the community of LGBTQ+ students that East has offered him. Through the GSA, Rudin has been able to bond with several other transgender students, an opportunity he had not been afforded in his younger years.

“Knowing other people who are trans or just generally LGBT has helped me not feel alone,” said Rudin. “Yes, I have gender dysphoria… but that doesn’t make me a freak.”

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