Dealing with any change is difficult, but for me, moving across country and identifying with my correct gender, turned whole life turned around.
The last time I shared about my life, I was still struggling to find acceptance for me as the woman I am. I was grappling with faith and identity. But since then I have felt waves of liberation as I packed up all my belongings in Los Angeles and shipped them to the Big Apple. When I first stepped into the hallways at New York University, it felt like a dream. I had a hard time believing that I was finally able to introduce myself as Summer to everyone I knew. I was so quickly accepted everywhere I went that for a moment I forgot that it was just months ago when I had to hide myself and interact with people who were trans-phobic.
However, with all these positive changes, there were also some unforeseeable challenges that I did not expect.
As I presented myself with the gender I identified with, I was also faced with the unattainable western standards of beauty. Everywhere I went, people were quick to criticize my outfits and remind me to be wary of my calorie intake. When I disclosed my identity to people, they would inquire about my medical transition and give me advice on how I should go forward with my transition, even though they were not doctors.
Finally, although I had a huge dating pool to choose from, I had to quickly figure out what I wanted from a relationship and what my boundaries were when it comes to sharing my body.
As fun as it was to build new relationships and gain new experiences, the most pressing question for me was: Now that I am living my true self in the greatest city in the world at a prestigious university, what do I really want?
The answer was always clear to me. I wanted to build my life around my passion for music. So I started writing, collaborating with different writers, performing and recording music.
Although I was in a very accepting environment, I still had inner demons to deal with. I never shook off the societal messages that undervalued transgender people. So I did not know whether I could love and accept myself unconditionally. Eventually, I wrote I am a girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqI1ThbJsK8the first song that really connected with people because I laid out all my fears, pains and I was willing to be utterly vulnerable.
I was surprised to see the positive reactions from people, including those that weren't transgender. I found that through music, I invited people into my world and help them realize that what I want is not that different from them. What I want is to be respected and celebrated for the complex human being that I am.
Through being vulnerable, I got to see myself in a different light. I started to recognize myself as a woman who is not perfect, but a woman who is willing to fail and grow even if it hurts.
In my time here in New York City, I have met many strong transgender people, and I wanted to celebrate them. That is why I shot three different videos that build towards the message that transgender people are valuable and that they deserve to be respected and celebrated. I finally have arrived at a place where I can share myself. These videos are reflections of the internal journey I underwent, and I can't wait for the world to enjoy them.