Sky Here! And Collin Stover used to be…me!
Sky Here! And Collin Stover used to be…me!
Sky here! For most of my life, I was known as “Collin”. However, I made the decision in January of 2019 to bring my professional and personal lives into alignment and introduce the true me to the world.
I was born and spent most of my life presenting myself as a “male”, however this was a carefully crafted mask. Today, I openly identify as a transgender woman, use she/her pronouns, and present myself as female. That is who I am on the inside, and that is why I am choosing to present myself as a woman to the world.
In my personal and professional lives, my transition has been wonderful! While there have certainly been relationship setbacks, I have also been exposed to kindness and love that I have never experienced before.
In addition, I’m learning to love myself, which I’m coming to the realization was never the case when I was a man.
Presenting myself as a man professionally was becoming increasingly difficult. I felt like a fraud, like I was putting up a mask, or like I was not being myself.
Even needing to sign my name at the bottom of Emails, or see my old photograph on my Website – these things started to really bother me the farther along I got into my personal transition.
That’s why I decided that it was time to introduce myself to the business world as the woman I am – Sky.
Transgender people have been around for thousands of years, but are just now getting mainstream attention and acceptance. Because of this, I know it can be confusing for people who aren’t transgender to understand what is going on, how to react, etc.
That’s why I thought it might be a good idea to write a little “Trans Frequently Asked Questions” to help guide and educate you. I’m very open to further questions, just ask!
Q: What does being transgender mean?
A: Just as there is no single human experience, there is no single transgender experience. The simplest definition, however, is a feeling of “dysphoria” (unhappiness, uncomfortability, anxiety, depression, negative feelings) with ones assigned gender. This dysphoria could be rooted in the parts someone has or the shape/size of those parts (known as body dysphoria), or this dysphoria could be rooted in the way that others perceive and treat you (known as social dysphoria). Many trans people have both, myself included, and at varying degrees.
A transgender woman is someone who was assigned male at birth who identifies and expresses themselves as a woman.
A transgender man is someone who was assigned female at birth who identifies and expresses themselves as a man.
Q: Alright, but let’s be real, here…we all *know* what makes a man a man, and a woman a woman.
A: It is extremely common, especially when you aren’t a transgender individual yourself, to conflate birth sex with gender. While they most often do match up (these individuals are “cisgender”), they very often don’t. Individuals whose gender identity does not match up with their assigned sex at birth are transgender.
Here’s a scenario for you: If you woke up tomorrow in the body of the opposite sex with a button next to the bed to immediately undo everything, how quickly would you press it? I would toss the button out and would not even consider switching back. I would feel like my body matched my brain and emotions.
People who aren’t transgender would be curious at a maximum. Maybe they spend a few hours or a day as the opposite sex to see what it’s like, but they’ll always press that button to undo the changes at some point. I would destroy the button and never look back, and would be happier because of it.
That’s the best illustration I can give for the differences between how I feel about my assigned gender and how most people feel about their assigned gender.
Q: Isn’t this what those bathroom controversies were all about? I don’t feel comfortable having a man in the women’s restroom.
A: This question is a bit controversial and I doubt this an issue for most of my clients, but this talking point is used quite frequently as a weapon used to discriminate and invalidate trans people. The bottom line is: trans women are valid women just like cisgender women. It would be unsafe and out of place for any woman, trans or otherwise, to use the men’s restroom. Trans folks aren’t there to peep, they’re there to pee. I can guarantee that you have been in a bathroom with a trans person at least a handful of times in your life and had absolutely no idea.
Q: Okay, so does this make you gay now?
A: Similar to how your gender identity is not directly related to your birth sex, your gender identity is also not directly related to who you love. Just as cisgender people (people who identify with their assigned birth) love people of a different gender, the same gender, or both – transgender people are no different. That said, if I am in a relationship with a woman this is a lesbian relationship, not a heterosexual one. A heterosexual relationship for a transgender woman is with a man.
Q: Speaking of relationships, weren’t you engaged?
A: Yes, I was. I am single now. That’s a story for another time, so we’ll leave it at that!
Q: OH! So you’re like those guys on Ru-Paul’s Drag Race! They’re hilarious!
A: No, I am a woman. While I have no problem with Drag Queens, there is a MAJOR difference between a drag queen and a transgender woman.
A Drag Queen is a man who identifies as a man and lives primarily as a man, but who enjoys putting on an exaggerated costume of (often boisterous and flamboyant) femininity. It is only a costume for them, and when they take it off they go back to being a man.
For a transgender woman, however, it is not a costume. There are real emotions attached to presenting yourself as female, and you typically only feel like you’re wearing a “costume” when you’re wearing men’s clothes. I do not feel like a man when I take off my make-up at night – I’m still a woman during that time, just one who avoids mirrors more often. 😉
Q: How long have you “known” this about yourself?
A: I’ve always had my suspicions and actually put a name on it at around 12-13, but I was told to wait and suppressed these feelings for the sake of my (temporary) mental health, my relationships, and my business. Adolescence is a hell of a time without transitioning, and I just wasn’t in the right place to do so. Now I am.
Q: So how should I address you, especially if I knew you “from before”?
A: My name is Sky, now. I no longer use my old name. So when you speak to/about me, it’s Sky. 🙂
In addition, since I identify as a woman, it is only appropriate for you to use she/her pronouns when referring to me.
By the way, this includes when referring to me in the past, “from before”. I was still a woman then, that’s just not the way I was presenting at the time. I know that might be confusing. 😉
I totally understand that it takes adjusting to for those who already knew me. If you accidentally use my old name or he/him/his, I’m not going to chastise you. I am most likely to politely correct you, or to let it go if I can tell that you realize your mistake. We’re all human, and I only care that you are trying.
Q: What about phone calls? Won’t you still have a “man” voice?
A: Unfortunately, for a while, yeah. 🙁 But vocal feminization is something I’ve been practicing and working on, so maybe you’ll be a “guinea pig” one day! It won’t be a distraction unless you make it one. 😉
Update from Sky, December 2019: I can confidently say my voice passes on the phone now. Yay! 🙂
Q: Is there like a glossary of terms for all of this stuff? Transgender, Cisgender, it’s all so confusing! It’s like they invent a new word every other day!
A: Well, while we may be adopting new words into our lexicon, these are by no means invented feelings. We are coming to a place in our culture and language where we are learning to describe the feelings that people have been trapped with forever. For example, in other cultures (especially Asian), transgender people are quite common and accepted, and there is even a legally recognized “third gender” for those who do not identify with the binary male/female.
Here are a few outdated or no longer accepted terms and phrases that I would like to point out are typically not to be used today:
- Transexual: An older term for people whose gender identities don’t match the sex that was assigned at birth and who desire and/or seek to transition to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identities. Some people find this term offensive, others do not. Only refer to someone as transsexual if they tell you that’s how they identify. (I do not identify that way, and do find the term offensive).
- Transgendered: Adding -ed to the end of transgender isn’t grammatically correct. You wouldn’t say that someone is gayed, womaned, or Latinoed. Similarly you wouldn’t call someone transgendered.
- Pre-Op/Post-Op: A set of terms to describe a transgender person who has had or not had gender confirmation surgeries. Focusing on whether someone has had surgery can be considered invasive or a violation of someone’s privacy. Also many transgender people don’t want (or don’t have access to) surgeries that would change their body. These surgeries are still getting better and are extremely expensive. Lastly, there are a variety of other ways transgender people transition besides gender confirmation surgery.
- Here are a few words that are actual transgender slurs and should never be tolerated by anybody: Tranny (that’s the “T-Word”), she-male, cross-dresser, trap, drag-queen. If you aren’t sure if a term is offensive, just stick to “Trans” or “Transgender”.
Q: Alright enough about you…what does this mean for me?
A: Well, pretty much nothing! Aside from changing how you address me, I’m still me. I’m still going to be doing great Web Design. I’m still going to be writing copy. In fact, I think I will only get better as I become more aligned with who I am as a woman, as that’s usually who I’m writing copy for, anyways. I expect to continue “business as usual”, aside from switching everything over to skystover.com. Switching my online identity over is a process, and one that Google doesn’t make easy.
Q: I have more questions, but I’m afraid of offending you. How can I ask?
A: I am very open and I understand that this is a difficult and sensitive topic, especially if it’s one you haven’t been exposed to personally very much. As long as I can tell that you are trying your best to be sensitive and understanding, and that your questions aren’t rooted in doubting who I am or trying to invalidate me as a woman; then there’s little you are going to say that is going to upset me. And if you say something that is offensive, it’s not the end of the world – I’ll let you know and we can move on. It’s a learning experience for everyone! If you have questions you feel more comfortable asking on the phone, I’m fine with that, too. I am happy to educate those who want to be educated.
Q: Do you have any other resources you can share for learning more about this stuff?
A: Sure! Here are a couple good resources found on Google. For further research just Google “Trans 101”.
Q: Is there anything else I can do to support or help you with your transition?
A: If you were asking yourself this question, you are very sweet. Thank you. Just accepting me for who I am and being a good person is all I ask. All of my clients are awesome people, so I didn’t get any push-back. That said, if you notice someone is misgendering me “he/him” or is using my old name? A great way to support me would be to politely correct them. It’s possible they just don’t know yet or had forgotten. Other than that, the best way to support me is to just treat me like you would any other business-woman. That’s all!