My Experience as a Trans Woman in Shaker

Equality in the Shaker Bubble

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of The Shakerite: Women’s Edition that was published virtually in May 2022. Due to a temporary change in the teacher adviser along with COVID-19 restrictions, The Shakerite decided to proceed with our print edition virtually. This is one of ten stories in the edition.

375. That is the number of transgender people around the world that were murdered last year, a majority of them people of color. It frustrates me that even in a culture that is more progressive than ever, hundreds of trans people are still being murdered and there aren’t enough changes in the law against it. There are still countries where it’s illegal to be LGBTQ+, and as an LGBTQ+ woman, that terrifies me.

Even in the Shaker bubble, trans people aren’t immune to harassment.

As a transgender woman myself, I’ve been deadnamed in the middle of classes, purposely misgendered in hallways and even harassed by a substitute teacher. It bothers me to be harassed by not only my classmates, but also someone like a substitute who’s supposed to be teaching instead of discriminating. There is an expectation that students are supposed to feel safe in classrooms, but with the actions of that substitute and others who are similar, that feeling of safety is shattered.

Most of my worst experiences took place in middle school, a period that the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found is, statistically, when the most bullying takes place in schools.

Even at the high school, where I have found a supportive group of friends in the SHHS Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), I’ve still been purposely deadnamed in my biology class by a classmate.

But for every negative experience that I’ve had, I’ve had a positive experience as well.

In eighth grade, I joined the Shaker Middle School GSA and found that I had never felt so comfortable anywhere else in school. It was liberating for me to meet other LGBTQ+ students in Shaker, in an environment with supportive teachers. 

Previously, I felt like I had to hide the fact that I was a pansexual trans woman. Even though I did my best to be proud of being both, I was tired of the harassment and bullying that I faced. Although I was transitioning, I tried to pretend to be a cisgender woman around people I didn’t know.

For me, that era is over. Every person that I consider a friend knows that I’m a pansexual trans woman, and I have built up a very supportive and similar group of friends. My girlfriend and I don’t make an effort to hide our relationship, something that we probably would’ve done if we were still in middle school. Most of my friend group is LGBTQ+, and we are all proud of that fact.

I’ve been a very active member of the GSA here at the high school, and just like in middle school, I’m ecstatic to have found a safe space like the one that GSA provides for my friends and I.

GSA is an incredible safe space for anyone who’s LGBTQ+ or questioning. I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive family, but many LGBTQ+ teens don’t have that luxury, and GSA is a great place to find a support system and a community that everybody deserves to have. It is incredible to be able to live my true life and be completely supported while doing it.

One of the best skills that I’ve learned is how to stand up for myself. I’ve often been told to ignore harassment, but I disagree with that philosophy. I’m not going to let it go unchecked. I’m not afraid to argue if I’m being bullied, and I’m not afraid to report it. Ignoring it won’t stop it, and even if it stops me from being harassed, it doesn’t stop the bully from moving on to other people who may be more vulnerable. 

Although sometimes I felt like reporting incidents didn’t do anything, in the end, it did. After I reported enough incidents, the bullying stopped almost completely.

After the relentless bullying and harassment that I faced in middle school, high school has been a great experience for me, and I have a great feeling that it will stay that way until I graduate. but I know that I’m lucky to have had so many supportive people during my transition. Sadly, I know that there are many trans people who don’t have that luxury, but they can still find support through the sources below.

Resources for Extra Support


Greater Cleveland LGBT Community Center –

Shaker Heights High School GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance)

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