My Coming Out Story
My coming out story started seven years ago and is a process I believe will never end.
The ups and downs continue, and I’m currently recovering from one of the downs. As part of a religious family, my coming out has been difficult; however, it taught me a lot and drives me today. Despite these challenges, I have hope that one day coming out will result in celebration and connection with my family rather than pain and despair.
Ever since I was little, I felt different. I knew I wasn’t a girl even though I was assigned female at birth. I vividly remember being around 4 years old and getting a shirt like my grandfather. I was excited because I felt like I looked like him.
I often imagined myself as the prince rather than the princess in children’s stories. As these feelings grew and matured along with me, it led me to be upset about how I looked as I approached age 10. Further, I had crushes on girls and boys. I thought maybe I was just weird and the only one who felt this way, until I finally learned the words for my feelings.
Ever since I was little, I felt different. I knew I wasn’t a girl even though I was assigned female at birth.
Picture it! Seventh-grade history class in 2016. I was 13. A hot-button issue centered on who could use which bathroom. I remember reading about what transgender meant, which turned into a surprising revelation. The description matched how I felt, and soon after this experience, I learned the word bisexual. By late 2016, following lots of internal debate, I realized I was a bisexual and transgender male. I chose the name Nathaniel, Nate for short.
By 2018, freshman year of high school, I was fully socially transitioned, going by Nate and he/him pronouns. Unfortunately, my hopes for medically transitioning were put on hold until 2021, when I turned 18. I began hormone replacement therapy the week after I started my first year at Jefferson.
In the spring of 2022, I was appointed Queer Student Union (QSU) secretary and felt simultaneously excited and nervous. During that summer, I reflected on my own experiences—the good and bad—and thought about how I could make a difference in the Jefferson community.
As I reflected on my coming out, one experience stood out: the acceptance of me by my 8th-grade English teacher. I remember coming out to a lot of my peers but unable to find the strength to tell my teachers or correct my peers who misgendered or deadnamed me.
One day, as I walked into English and greeted the teacher as usual, he silently handed me a sticky note. It read, “Do you want me to call you Nate?” and prompted me to circle yes or no. It seems he found out when one of my classmates referred to me as Nate. With a mix of emotions, I circled yes.
He encouraged me to be my true self and not be afraid to inform my teachers and peers that I was now using a new name and pronouns. I carried the lessons he taught me and his kind words ever since. Without them, I believe I would be a different person today.
It reminded me of why I ultimately decided to run for QSU secretary. I had a moral obligation and motivation to pass the kindness he showed me forward. I’m happy to say that as I move into the position of QSU president, I believe we’re progressing toward this goal. (A special thanks to Holly Lightcap, assistant director for diversity and social justice on East Falls Campus, for her frequent collaboration with QSU for different events.)
I had a moral obligation and motivation to pass the kindness he showed me forward.
Last fall, I spoke as a panelist for a Roxboro House Roundtable on coming out. Before the session, I met with Evan Laine, law and society program director and roundtable organizer. We began talking about current political events and the upcoming election.
I already was interested in politics, criminal justice and social justice. However, this conversation—along with my position as QSU secretary—sparked me to change my major to law and society.
After just one semester in the program, I know I made the right choice. I use the skills I’ve gained to benefit my work with QSU, and I’m also learning how I can help make the world a better place for everyone. After graduation, I hope to enter a career where I can advocate for all minority communities, including my own.
BS in law and society student Nate Medina is the president of the Queer Student Union on Jefferson’s East Falls Campus.