Our genders —and our identities in general— are not born in a vacuum, but are built throughout life through the interactions we have with the people who surround us.

For many, perhaps the most important influence on their development is parents, both for better and for worse. For trans people, the relationship with parents can dictate the future in extreme ways; parental acceptance helps their children feel supported in exploring their identity. On the other hand, rejection — or fear of rejection— causes many trans people to suffer years of anguish over the conflict between who they are and who they “should” be.

Since home and school represent the most important spaces of socialization for children, it is not surprising that they can also be among the most traumatic places for trans children.

Without exception, all the participants in this project have experienced “bullying,” both from their classmates and their family members, in relation to their inability to demonstrate masculinity or femininity in a normative and acceptable way.


They made a rule that I couldn't go to the cafeteria… because I had to go through the primary school. And the little girls couldn’t be exposed to me because I was going to put things in their heads. So I had to ask my classmates to buy me a snack every day.

Unfortunately, many trans people suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety due to the treatment they receive from society beginning at a very young age. It is perhaps not surprising then, that the trans community experiences a much higher suicide rate than their cisgender peers.

The acceptance or rejection of a trans person by their family and friends can dictate the ease with which they will ultimately understand and accept their gender identity.

Many trans people don’t ever “come out,” not because they are unsure about their gender identity, but because they fear threatening or breaking the social ties that sustain them, such as with family, friends, and colleagues.

Interpersonal relationships can also lead to greater self-acceptance for trans people, as long as they are based on acceptance and support.


Now, my family never saw me dressed as a woman, or publicly out or anything, you know? I always did what they wanted, and never… I figured out how I could wear women's underwear without anybody asking me any questions. In that sense, even I’m surprised at myself, because I was so intelligent that they never caught me.

Relationships with other trans people also play an important role in the construction of trans identities that are based on self-acceptance and self-love. Being able to witness the experiences of other trans people – both positive and negative – dictates in part what each trans person considers possible.


I dated a couple of girls from that group. One of them was named Samantha, and I had her saved in my phone as Sam, so that she was supposedly straight. In case someone checked my cell phone, I had a Sam, a Samuel. Later I was with another girl and her name was Joselyn and I also had her saved as José.