Private: 5036 – Victor Tobar, “Choosing”

I often hear people play into the rhetoric around being Queer that's framed in the concept of choice. The age-old "nature vs. nurture" debate. Conversations based on the idea of not choosing to be Queer (or Gay, or Trans, etc.), but being "born this way."

The premise of the nature vs. nurture debate is that there is something inherently flawed about Queerness. That we would not choose to be this way. That something else made us "this way," either in our composition or our upbringing. It turns our identities into a condition, a deviation, a mistake.

I do not accept this rhetoric.

I am Queer. I am Trans. I have been out as long as I can remember, and I can't imagine my orientation being any other way. But I choose this life, every single day. Every day I make a choice to survive, to be out, and to embrace all parts of my sexuality and gender. To thrive, to love myself, and to have an amazing time. I don't care about biology when it comes to my identity, I simply do not (and that's saying a lot; I'm a Biology major). When it comes to my identity, I look to neither science nor God. I look to my sense of autonomy; self-determination.

My coming out story is unusual, I suppose. I never came out as Queer to my family. I didn't have to. I was socialized female, and as a child, I often found myself attracted to and experimenting with girls. My best friend and I often played a game in which we packed a substantial array of snacks into my Strawberry Shortcake pillowcase and pretended to run away from home together. We would "run away" to under the kitchen table, where we would have the privacy to do our 4-year old version of kissing. She was like a dream to me. I try to imagine her as an adult and end up with images of a stunning butch with a wicked grin. Short curly hair, broad shoulders, several inches taller than me. Female masculinity. Hot.

My parents were not necessarily privy to what we were doing on our adventures, but they knew I was Queer before I even had a concept of sexuality. I remember hitting puberty, an awkward tomboy in my big brother's clothes and messy, out-of-place long hair, to the dreaded conversation I'd refused to have even with myself. My mom and dad sat me down and told me what they'd known and perceived throughout my childhood. That I was, in their words, gay. And that being gay was wrong, and that I needed to do whatever I had to do to be otherwise.

I am amazed at my resilience. Even as a young and insecure tween, I refused to accept and believe that there was anything wrong with me. And there wasn't. And there still isn't. I chose to keep learning about myself. To define myself on my own terms, and to thrive. I have been in all kinds of relationships, with people of all genders and orientations. My gender presentation has evolved in amazing ways over the years. I am happy to acknowledge, even celebrate all of these parts of myself. They are so real, and so valuable.

Gender and sexuality are bigger than what we are taught to perceive, what we are scared into or out of, what we are diagnosed with, or told is our burden to bear. My identity is something I carry with immense pride. Testaments to my survival, my resilience, my ability to love and accept myself. My decision to define the parameters of my own life, take ownership of my own body, and reclaim that which has been challenged and invalidated for the past 31 years of my life.

This is not the lot in life that was handed to me. It is who I am. And everyone's guesses as to why that is are not only limiting, but completely irrelevant.


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