January 3, 2021

After years of self-reflecting, feeling alone, and having constant interactions with people who were ignorant at best and transphobic at worst, I can finally flex my minority status in one thing and one thing only: the personal essay. The place where society collectively exposes their deepest and darkest of traumas. Naturally, the most deep and touching wins the gold.

I may be particularly jaded by 2020, but throughout the college application process, I started feeling more and more that this wasn’t post-secondary education’s way of honoring students with diverse backgrounds, but rather an attempt to force students to leverage their worst and most painful experiences, only to be seen and validated by a stranger. Some of us might not even be ready to deal with the pain of these experiences, but we’ve been conditioned to believe that writing it all out in 650 words or less is necessary to stand out in the highly-competitive crowd of college applicants. 

When it came down to my essay, I didn’t encompass all of my pain. Instead, I decided to celebrate the day I finally knew my truth.

It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, but I’m incredibly proud of the story I shared.

I could have flexed my minority muscles and shared my worst most traumatizing experience, but I didn’t want to. There have certainly been painful moments and setbacks, but those traumatic and sad moments dictated by other people do not define my story. 

We need to tell our stories on our own merit and decision, not to fit a mold or brag sheet for some large collegiate institution. Minorities are so much more than the sum of the obstacles that we’ve had to overcome by no fault of our own. Our existence does not exist to entertain the majority. 

We don’t wake up everyday facing our struggles to satisfy the curiosity of tourists on the other side of the glass. 

We are not zoo animals. 

We don’t do tricks to validate our presence. 

We aren’t yours to dissect. 

We are human beings, trying to live and coexist in a world not made for us.

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