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“This is where I found community”

A bulletin board outside the SDSU bookstore on the San Diego State University campus, in San Diego, California

I came here for “new”. A new start. A new city. A new school. A new gender.

I knew no one when I came to San Diego. Thinking back on how I got here, my story somehow seems simultaneously reasonable and far-fetched.

It started a year earlier. I came out as transgender. I came out to my friends and I came out to my family. And for the most part, I was met with acceptance and love.

But I couldn’t fathom the idea of coming out to coworkers. Well, maybe my close coworkers. But not the ones on the 7th floor, that I only saw once a week to exchange documents. It was these people that scared me. What would there reaction be? And more importantly, what would my reaction to their reaction be? These thoughts haunted me so much, that I put a plan into action.

“I’ll quit my job, and go to grad school. That should give me a safe place to transition without fear of being fired. I’ll also be in a new place where people will only know me by my new name and [hopefully] new pronouns.”

I put my plan into action, and took the GMAT, a standardized test to get into business school. At the beginning of the test, before any real questions were even asked, there was a section where you could select up to five schools to have your test scores sent for free. I really only had four schools in mind, and they were all local. But I didn’t want to waste that free fifth school. Thinking fondly back on a previous vacation to San Diego, I scanned the alphabetical list for a university with the words “San Diego” in the title, and marked in San Diego State University as my fifth option.

I really had no plans on attending the school, but SDSU showed interest in me enrolling in their MBA program. I researched the program, and it seemed like a good one. And the more I thought about staying at home versus moving to San Diego, the more I thought about how there were more than just the people on the 7th floor I was concerned with. There were the random people I knew from high school or college I would occasionally bump into at the grocery store. There were people I knew well enough to make idol chit-chat with, but not well enough to come out to.

I applied. I was accepted. I enrolled. I was moving to San Diego, without any idea about how intense this change was going to be.

Skip forward a year. I’m in a new city, where I know no one. I’m attending a new school, where I know no one. I’m living in a new gender, and I know no one.

I quickly sought out the school’s LGBT organization. I found the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Union or LGBTSU. This is where I found peers. This is where I found friends. This is where I found community.

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