The Moment I Finally Came to Understand and Accept Transgender People

I'm gay-friendly. Always have been. And proud of it.

When I was a little girl, I lived in Orléans, France, and our neighbor L was an Army pilot. We -- and by "we" I mean the people residing in the "Village S... J..." -- all knew that L was gay. And the good thing was that he never actually had to come out to us. He's had two boyfriends of whom I was -- and still am -- quite fond, and with whom I enjoyed chatting.

E, the first one, is a nurse. I was really sad when he and L broke up. But whenever I eat some salade verte, I think of him, because he taught my mom how to make a vinaigrette that I now make myself.

D, the second one, is an optician and the only one who could make me eat vegetables. He and L broke up after only a few years together. My guess is that one loved the other much more than was reciprocated. Things are better this way, though, because L finally found his Mr. Right.

So, yes, I'm really open-minded when gay people are concerned. But I am ashamed to say that until quite recently, this wasn't the case when it came to transgender people.

For a very long time I saw trans people as gay people who were ashamed or afraid to be themselves. It was something that I thought was insulting homosexuality. I respected trans people but didn't understand them. "There's no shame in being gay," I thought, "so why can't they understand it?" I, like a lot of other people, was confusing sexuality with gender.

I became aware of this recently when I heard about the story of Arin Andrews and Katie Hill via Neil Gaiman's and Will Wheaton's Tumblr posts, which directed me to a video published in a HuffPost article.

Arin and Katie are a teenage couple who both felt that they did not identify with their biological sex. They met in a support group and fell in love with each other. And we all know what happened next: They transitioned together. I found this really cute but didn't understand why they transitioned in the first place. They were heterosexual, weren't they?

Then I watched the video (below). And after all those years, I finally understood it.

Now I laugh at my own ignorance. I laugh because laughing is much better than crying. To HuffPost Gay Voices editor Noah Michelson, who's featured in the video: I learned a very important lesson thanks to what you said in that video. And I thank you for this.

An earlier version of this piece appeared on Mehrac Aliyari's blog, One Young Lady.