This transgender man expected to be treated differently — but not like this
Alexander Reid knew he was 'different from the other kids' when he was just four years old
At just four years old, Alexander Reid realized that his sex at birth did not coincide with his gender identity.
"I was putting on swim trucks, as my parents always allowed me to express my gender however I wanted as a child," he said. "I tried to pee standing up for the first time and was unsuccessful. However, I started to think about how I was different from the other kids. I didn't really understand why."
But it wasn't until the age of 19 when he met his first friend who was transgender that he "really put the pieces together."
"When I was assigned female at birth, it wasn't exactly the way that my identity panned out as an adult," said Reid.
The 25-year-old currently serves as the vice president for WE Trans Support, but it was four years ago that Reid's journey of "gender identity exploration" started.
At the time, he met with other transgender people to learn the "vocabulary and verbiage" associated with gender identity before realizing that he, too, was also a transgender person.
"Through that process, I started physically transitioning with the help of some doctors. I started hormone replacement therapy about four years ago. I got top surgery," said Reid, adding he started working with WE Trans Support shortly thereafter.
According to Reid, the way he was treated by people changed significantly after coming out as transgender — but "not as you might expect."
He didn't receive "a lot of flak" during his transition, nor did his family stop him.
Reid said after growing facial hair, taking testosterone, undergoing chest contouring and cutting his hair short — "all the stereotypical markers of typical masculinity" — he experienced feeling "male privilege."
"That came up with getting more respect, more air time in conversations, freedom to take up more space and just a better sense of safety."
Whether he was sharing his personal story or simply talking about what he did that day, "everyone saw it as important."
"My male privilege — and particularly male privilege in public spaces — comes with that kind of safety and security that women or non-passing transgender people or gender non-binary people don't necessarily get."
For Reid, his biggest day-to-day challenges come when needing to use "spaces of public health," including washrooms and change rooms.
Though he identifies as a transgender person, Reid said he passes for a cis-gendered man. He adds that being able to walk into public spaces without the fear of people outside the LGBT community defining him as transgender creates a "false sense of security" when he starts displaying his full "gender expression."
"I've honesty received more difficulties since I started dressing and acting in a more feminine-presenting way, whether it's wearing makeup or jewellery or wearing crop tops and short shorts and painting my nails, than I ever did when I was presenting myself as masculine," said Reid.
"Now that I'm presenting [myself] in a more gender-expansive or androgynous way, I receive a lot more stares and negative comments or harassment, based on my gender expression. That would probably be the most difficult thing in my day-to-day life at the moment."
How being a trans person affects his relationship
This week marks the four-year anniversary of Reid's relationship with his girlfriend — a relationship which started shortly before Reid explored his physical transition.
"It's really interesting. People ask that a lot — how our relationship has evolved throughout my transition," said Reid, referring to his girlfriend as his "number one" supporter during his transition.
Reid describes his relationship as a constant evolution of "self-exploration and growth." He acknowledges the fear his girlfriend had at the start of the relationship because, at the time, he had only identified as transgender, but had not undergone medical treatment.
But Reid added she's always looked out for his best interest.
"Honestly, this experience has made our relationship so much more fruitful," said Reid.
"We've shared such an intimate relationship with me progressing as a human being and becoming truly who I am and her getting to see of all of the aspects of that and how they intertwine with me being a romantic partner."
Why go public?
The main reason Reid is going public with his personal story, he said, is to increase the understanding of what life is like for transgender people and, more importantly, how improvements can be made to "break down the gender binary in our society."
"It's not just cis-gendered people who live here. All of society and its inner workings and systems of oppressions really need to be broken down in order for transgender people to live and thrive in our society," said Reid.
"Having more laws to protect us against discrimination and hatred is a given, but it's really the minds of the people in society that need to change in order for progress to continue."
Reid wants people outside the LGBT community to understand that transgender people are just "regular people on the street trying to live their lives in a peaceful and happy way."
"As I share my personal narrative and make myself vulnerable, I hope that I inspire others to do the same," said Reid. "When I share my story, it's not for publicity or attention or entertainment purposes, but more so for visibility."
"I hope that I can reach a little trans boy or non-binary person in their home who's listening to my story and realize, 'That could be me.' It doesn't have to be a sad story. It doesn't have to be a sob story. It doesn't have to end negatively."