I realize this is a complex topic, and people may have questions or be unsure how to treat me, so I’ve tried to explain things in an interview-like format that may answer some of the questions people have. I’m generally a pretty private person, so there are many things I’m not comfortable sharing in a public context like this, but please contact me directly if you have additional questions about the way I’ve explained things.
How should we address you?
By my name, Mikayla! Please also use terms like “she/her/hers”, “Ms.” and “sister/daughter”. For nicknames, “mhutch” or “hutch” are still fine.
Don’t worry, I won’t be upset if people slip up from time to time!
Does this change who you are?
No, I’m still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, virtues and flaws. I may look a little different and have a different name, but those are relatively superficial and are simply a clearer expression of the person you already know.
Why are you doing this?
I was becoming increasingly unhappy repressing and hiding a part of myself. A few years ago I decided to address this dissonance in my life. After experimenting and figuring things out, gradually coming to terms with myself and how I could be comfortable with other people, this is the path that makes the most sense.
Why did it take so long?
I’ve always worried how other people see me, probably far too much. I’ve never identified with the gender binary, and it’s only in recent years that the concept of a gender spectrum has become generally accepted.
This seems like a difficult step to take!
Yes, I’ve had to worry about how my family and friends and even total strangers will treat me. There are many places that make life extremely difficult for people like me, and that I may now never be able to visit safely. Even the administrative changes are very complex. This isn’t something I’m doing lightly.
How are you doing?
Really well! I’m lucky to have very supportive friends and family, and to live in a time when so many others have made the world a more accepting place. I’m grateful for everything everyone has done and continues to do, and hope that I can support others in similar situations.
How should we describe you?
I’m not a fan of labels, but I consider myself to be somewhere towards the feminine side of the gender spectrum, and I’m most comfortable with identifying as a woman. I am transgender or “trans”, and it’s not something I’m hiding, but the adjective is a detail that should only be used when it’s relevant, for example when talking about gender identity or my personal history.
How should we refer to your past?
Please be respectful and don’t bring up my previous name and gender unless necessary for explanation or clarification. For example, if someone asks “Who’s that in that photo?”, you could say “Oh that’s Mikayla, before she transitioned” .
Is this like [other person]?
Maybe, maybe not. Every trans person has their own narrative and identity. Please be respectful and do not assume that things I’ve said apply to others that you meet, or that things you’ve heard from others apply to me.
Will anything else change going forward?
Life is change, and I’ll always be evolving as a person, figuring this out, learning things and trying to improve my own life and that of others. In many ways I’m not changing at all :)