Transgender speaker shares life experience

Monica Gallardo

“Being trans is a part of my identity, but that’s pretty far down the list of who I am, ” Cole, who works to shed light on gender communities, said.

Going by just his first name, Cole was the first guest that Cerritos College hosted for the Diversity Speaker Series.

A group of about 50 students, faculty and staff attended the first installment of the Diversity Speaker Series in the Teleconference Center on Tuesday, April 21.

He has been speaking across the country for 10 years on school campuses and has worked with several affiliations such as Homeland Security and religious groups.

Cole was born a woman in California and raised in Northern Idaho. He made the transition to male during his early college years and has been married with a family for a few years now. He is currently the president of the Parent-Teacher Association at his son’s school, coaches little league baseball and is in the process of becoming a long-term foster parent with his wife.

“I had a pretty normal childhood. My family never tried to push me out of being a tomboy and I feel very lucky that I was never forced down that path,” he said.

He spoke about coming out to his family and the relief that came with it and also touched upon the struggles he went through during his transition. He has been harassed and has been involved in fights, despite not instigating them and felt angry, depressed and self-destructive during his transition.

He also shed light on the crime that is committed upon the transgender community, informing the audience that suicide and hate crimes against the trans community are more frequent, but often misreported.

“It is extremely difficult to get statistics because, like, if a sex worker is killed, it’s because they’re a sex worker, not trans,” he said.

The audience was later allowed to ask any questions it wanted. Various topics were brought to discussion, such as how to handle small children who are starting to identify with their gender, how to make the school campus more gender friendly and accessible, what the hardest part about transitioning was and how to support someone who is in the process of transitioning.

Linguistics major and communications minor Daniel Schaper said, “I thought it was amazing to talk about transgender people and their lives and what they go through, the transitions and services and support for their transition. It was great.”

Cole emphasized the importance of respecting those who are transgender and how to properly address them.

“Identify them as what they present and if you don’t know, ask. You will not offend them. Respect what they want to go by,” he said.