*Name changed to protect identity
Is that a bird? Is it a flag flapping in the wind? Is it a foreign unidentified flying object that will be on people’s minds for many years? Gosh no, it is Raaj,* someone I have known for over twelve years. An individual who is the most independent, quick-witted, selfless, extremely caring, jokester, most hard-working, and most importantly my best friend. And he is a gay transgender man.
What is a transgender person? A transgender person is an individual who identifies with their intended gender besides the one assigned at birth.
Raaj came out a few months after high school in 2012 to a select few friends, including me. When he told me about being trans, I was confused but eager to know more. He and I were in the learning process of understanding his new identity. What I mean is, I was adjusting to calling him by his new male name, and he was learning how to navigate this new life as a transgender man. Mistakes were made calling him by his old name, or asking questions that would upset him, but he understood I was learning with him and he allowed me to delve into his thoughts, to an extent. Even after a couple of years I still did not understand what being transgender meant, but I was eager to learn more and by then I was used to calling him Raaj.
“…I was adjusting to calling him by his new male name, and he was learning how to navigate this new life as a transgender man.”
At my college, I had the honor to sit in a session with a well-known black transgender woman (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten). She showed us a movie representing the struggles of transgender prostitutes. Afterward, we discussed the movie, and she talked about her story discovering her identity as transgender and the illegal methods she took to transform her body. One of these methods being collagen to lift her face and shape it more feminine, but instead the person injected her with cement deforming her face. Like many transgenders, she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts but eventually found a group of transgenders who also used illegal methods to transform their bodies. With therapy, and the support from her mom she found solace. I admit I was very shocked by this comment, but she even mentioned she was still married to her husband after ten plus years! This was so inspiring, informational, and surprising overall being a cisgender myself. Soon after I asked her some tips about transgenders, and about how to better understand my friend Raaj. Thanks to her I was able to feel more confident talking with my friend Raaj and having an outside perspective on transgender people.
“…when he finally came out as trans, I noticed him become more at ease and slowly become more himself.”
But this blog is about my best friend Raaj and why he is the most amazing person and how lucky I am to have him in my life. Our friendship began with a familiar liking of anime, especially Inuyasha. Raaj was and is in some respects, a goth person. I remember thinking I would never be friends with goth, dark-natured, not wanting unwarranted attention people, but I did. I made friends with all cliques throughout my school but hung out with the “goth” kids more than any other group. I remember our friendship, though stronger now, was quite rough to navigate all through high school. Granted, being teenagers our emotions were never organized. When conversating with Raaj, it was always a gamble since I was always in fear to put him on edge or make him angry with me during those times. However, when he finally came out as trans, I noticed him become more at ease and slowly become more himself. In our final year of high school and beyond Raaj has been working consistently since he has had to help his mom pay for groceries and the house that he and his 2 siblings lived in. As of now Raaj is a manager at a retail store but hopes one day to work at a hotel. He always enjoys helping others and conversating with strangers. And just like every person in the world, he has aspiring dreams he hopes to achieve such as taking his art places to sell, and even a side dream to open a tea shop because he loves trying and drinking tea. He even loves to collect an assortment of teacups, teapots, and tea sets!
“He…is a hero, a gay transgender hero that I love to death…“
Raaj is just like any other person in the world. He has dreams, he has goals, he has sexual desires, he has feelings, and he is himself. A friend I always aspire to be, that I look to for words of insight, and a free-spirit I love to converse with about everyday life at our nearby dog park, where he even came out to me. Our friendship has lasted nearly 13 years and I hope it continues to bloom for the next 100 years, or until we die. I wanted to finish off this blog talking about the photo you see of Raaj. This was taken right before we left for the Pride Parade in Houston. This was our second time going. This pose he did immediately caught my eye, and I seriously felt privileged being there with him at that moment. He, as the photo portrays, is a hero, a gay transgender hero that I love to death, and am blessed to have in my life. The moment I took that photo I knew I wanted to write about him and how amazingly fabulous he is. I hope this photo also inspires you, the readers, whether you are trans, gay, bi, asexual, queer, straight, of the LBTQ+ community, an anxious easily overwhelmed individual or have mental issues no one sees or cares to acknowledge, that you are special and you are a hero in somebody’s eyes. I know it is rough out there, and sometimes feels like you are alone, but there is always someone who is concerned about you or admires you from afar just as we admire heroes like Raaj from afar for being themselves.
A few words about me
Hi, my name is Travis and I am a 2017 A&M college graduate with a major in Animal Science and minor in Psychology. I once desired to become a Veterinarian, but now have a new goal to get my master’s in Social Work and eventually become a Therapist and or Counselor. As of now, I work as an Animal Technician at MD Anderson the leading Cancer research facility in the US. But I am striving to find a career more in my field of interest. As for personal interests, I love to play soccer, go walking around parks, read a book and workout when I have time, see all theatrical performances, and enjoy family and friend outings as much as possible even if I am low on cash. A favorite quote would have to be from a Toonami commercial called “Broken Promise,” of an animated character saying “I’m not running.” I resonate with that quote because I believe in facing all challenges in life head-on, and whatever stress I encounter I utilize it!