How a College Syllabus Changed a Transgender Man's Life

I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. New stories are posted on the site every Wednesday.

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Brandon Beck is a transgender man, and was assigned female at birth. Presenting as a male as a child was surprisingly no problem. Brandon recalls:

But my grandma would make a different present for me than she made for the other two girls because I was being accepted as different from everybody else. So I remember one Christmas my grandma had sewed pajama outfits for all three of us. I got pants and a shirt and the other two got little house dresses and I just thought that all of this was great.

After puberty and adulthood hit, Brandon began to run into roadblocks. He realized he didn't fit in with the lesbian rugby team, but even worse, while studying to become a teacher Brandon was given some disheartening news by a female supervisor:

I wanted to be a teacher, like my parents. So I got into a graduate program for teacher certification and one of the supervisors told me that I'd never be able to be a teacher in Texas if I didn't wear skirts and have long hair. [...] So when that professor said, "You'll never be able to be a teacher unless you wear a skirt and have long hair," I thought my life was over. I entered a deep, dark depression, I thought that my life was going to end.

Fortunately, Brandon's hero showed up and came in the form of...a class syllabus?

I was sitting in the graduate student lounge in Flowers Hall and saw a syllabus for one of the courses that was an option for us. [...] The syllabus description said that we were going to cover LGBT topics and actually wrote out what LGBT stood for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. And I thought, "Transgender...what does that mean? It sounds like it means something about crossing genders. I don't know what this means but something about it really sparked my curiosity."

After learning that he was indeed transgender, Brandon's life blossomed. He's now married to a wonderful and supportive wife, and is one of two openly transgender faculty members at Texas State University.

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