Distorted Reflection


Claire Pitney

Amity Ianiri at her friends prom, posing in front of the entrance.

Junior Amity Ianiri poses with science teacher Ms. Taylor Spies at the Silver Shield awards ceremony on March 30th after receiving a Silver Shield from Ms. Spies. (Marti Ianiri)

A tense feeling makes its way up my neck, my palms begin to sweat profusely, and my eyes squint as I attempt to hold back tears. I quietly enter my first period as I slowly unzip my bag, and take out the note I had prepared the day before. I walk up to my teacher and hand them the short and concise message. As their eyes skimmed across the page, an eruption of fear freezes me in place. “Oh, okay, is this how you pronounce it”.

That summer I had decided to finally come out as transgender. Not only to my friends, but also my family. I had spent years building up the courage to tell anyone, and I had wanted this school year to start off on a positive note. I was forced to decide whether I wanted to conceal my identity yet another year, or begin to express myself authentically. Some part of me wanted to stay hidden away, while life continued to move on around me. I was terrified of how people could possibly react. All of those remarks I’ve heard from not only my peers, but also the news, had convinced me staying quiet was somehow better.

For years I had internalized these comments. Hearing them so much had started to condition me into accepting them as the truth. I began to feel ashamed of who I was, hating myself for something that was completely out of my control. I spent countless nights crying in my room, wishing I was born a girl. I began to distance myself from my family and friends. Interacting with anyone filled me with an intolerable guilt. After all, I’m just lying to everyone, right? Who even am I anymore? Why can’t I just be normal? I began to blame myself, searching for someone or something that made me this way.

It took finding the right people, to finally divert me away from my destructive path. I met friends who began to help me deconstruct the barriers that had held me back for so long.  I slowly began to heal, as I gave more of my attention to people who treated this topic differently. More and more of those negative comments began to slip away, lifting an immense amount of weight off my shoulders. I had begun to smile more, I was making more friends, and even became involved with extracurriculars.

I was beginning to come to the realization that hiding was no longer worth it. I had found terrific friends and educators who would love to meet the real me, and I began making plans to come out. I had finally gathered enough courage to tell my best friend, and from there to now, things have only continued to get better. I am no longer ashamed to call myself trans. I recognize my identity is beautiful, and a part of me I wouldn’t trade for anything. Love and support from friends and teachers has helped me come closer and closer to the person I want to be.

I deserved to openly express myself to those around me. I deserved to find people who wouldn’t ridicule me, or question my existence. I deserved to have a name that made me feel comfortable, and have an identity that truly made me feel whole.

Yeah, things haven’t exactly been perfect. I still receive strange glares in the hallway from old friends of mine. I’m sometimes asked incredibly personal questions that are completely inappropriate for a casual conversation. I’m still terrified when meeting new people, scared that they might treat me differently, or make negative comments about me. Yet I have never been as genuinely excited about my future as I am today.

When I look in the mirror, I see a confused teenage girl just like any other. Trying to find her way in a world that wasn’t built to accommodate her. Yet as time continues, and the world becomes more aware, she couldn’t possibly be more proud to call herself Amity Ianiri.