Living Transgender in the F-M Community

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The emergence of Caitlyn Jenner has been taking over headlines across the country. But what is it like to be transgender in the F-M area?

Vannessa Venhizen is a sophomore at MSUM and hopes to pursue a career in animation on the west coast.

“Subconsciously I just like hid it from myself,” she explains.

She is also transgender.

“People are usually pretty nice but I try to stay as stealth as possible. Stealth meaning I don’t share the fact that I’m trans,” says Vannessa.

Like most in the transgender community, Vannessa had a difficult time. She grew up in Brookings, South Dakota and started to identify as Vannessa just before her senior year of high school.

“Personally it’s a huge decision and it’s a decision that you have to make understanding that the community socially is going to have a different perspective more than likely than what the person is feeling themselves,” says Professionally Licensed Counselor Chris Bietz.

But enter Caitlyn Jenner. Once known for her athletic accomplishments and ties to the Kardashians, she is bringing worldwide attention to a much less talked about issue.

“It’s getting people who are transgender maybe more comfortable with coming to acceptance with themselves,” Bietz says.

“She has a lot more speaking power. She has a lot more accountability to speak out for and represent what we are,” says Vannessa.

While Vannessa says the increased attention on the transgender community is beneficial, she admits there is a long road ahead.

“With change there is always resistance to change,” Vannessa says.

But nonetheless, it’s a big step that will hopefully make the lives of transgender people in the community much easier.

Vannessa says that speaking to a therapist about what she and Caitlyn went through makes the transition much easier.