laidech mac dela

 

Background: My name is Laidech Mac Dela. I’m from Baltimore but I went to school in Philadelphia.

 

Faith: I was raised Catholic but when I was a kid my mom decided that she hated the Catholic faith so we left the church and I never went to Catholic school again. Started having like gender questions when I was like in high school and there was kinda like a ten year period where I sort of had to figure out what that was. I came out to my mom recently but I didn’t tell the rest of my family. My mom doesn’t really…my parents don’t really do emotions, so she just asked me a bunch of really like… questions that someone who doesn’t know what like gender queer or a transgender person is would ask and then she was just like, “ok” and she’s never mentioned it since then.

 

Do you typically feel included with your peers? Well, the first three/four years I was in college I didn’t really come out to anyone so I kinda just didn’t really talk to anybody ‘cause I didn’t want really anyone to know but I came out my senior year and no one cared, you know? It was just like ‘oh, well, I wasted four years, should have just been upfront about who I was the whole time cause any major journalist are probably the people who would least care about that, but, you know, I was an insecure 20-something. It just felt like it was something I had to do. I felt like I was just like, it was getting annoying, trying to like keep track of who knew and who didn’t know and it was just too much so I figured it’ll all come out and whoever is not happy is not happy with it, I don’t care, I don’t need to be friends with anybody.

 

A time you felt included: I guess just by accepting it. People ask me what pronouns that I prefer and stuff like that. I mean, I think it’s nothing really extreme, just by being normal they just, you know,  they just act like it’s normal, then it is.

 

A time you felt excluded: There are certain things where male-bodied people aren’t welcome. I’ve chosen to not transition and there’s limitations to that. It’s one thing to be around people you know and they know you but it’s another thing to be a stranger and be just be like oh so, this person is transgender and they should be included in this female only activity, but they don’t know who I am so I don’t push the issue.If it’s a female only event, I’ve chosen not to transition so I’m not in the business of trying to make anybody uncomfortable. If I transition I would feel differently about that, if I was presenting female every day, I would want to be included in that but since I’m not, it doesn’t really, well, it bothers me a little bit but, like, when I was living in Japan my girlfriends wanted to go to a hot spring but they’re segregated by gender so I couldn’t go and things like that.

 

Advice for someone who is feeling excluded: That’s a tough question, I think that really varies by what environment someone is in. The environment I was in as a photojournalism student, no one cared. But there are some environments where you absolutely are not accepted. I think I saw a stat the other day that said 53% of people who come out to their families as trans are like disowned in some form. I think you really gotta test the water. I mean, ultimately you have to be true to yourself but you know, there’s other things you have to consider like if you need a roof over your head you have to kind of weigh...there’s a lot of things to weigh. I didn’t come out until I graduated college because I wanted to make absolutely sure that I got my college paid for. I mean, my mom ended up not caring but I didn’t know that.

 

Advice to the people doing the excluding: People who feel the need to exclude people, I mean, we passed a transgender protection thing in Maryland recently and there was all these people who went and spoke to the House of Delegates about how transgender people aren’t real and they’re just all creeps trying to get into women’s bathrooms  and all this nonsense and that upsets me. I understand as someone who’s not transitioned that there are some places that if I went, I would make people uncomfortable as a male-bodied person.  For parties and stuff I sometimes dress female but generally I’m dressed as a man and I understand that there’s places that that’s going to make someone uncomfortable but generally if you’re at work and one of your coworkers transitions and wears a dress, who cares? I mean, I don’t understand, how would that bother you? People do discriminate against you at work and at school and it doesn’t make any sense because, why is work sexual? That’s messed up, like you’re putting numbers into a computer, the computer doesn’t know. If at the end of the day everything’s in the black then isn’t that what matters? I don’t know, I don’t get it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

 

One thing to make the world a more inclusive place: Well, I think a lot of the discrimination against transgender people comes from just general sexism. People say you’re raised and a man does this and a woman does this and I think that makes people uncomfortable. We need to just get past that things are set like that cause that’s just not how, forget how modern social things work, that’s not how the modern economy works. I mean, everyone is expected to do kind of the same things now so those things just hold everybody back. If I’m doing business with you, what difference does it make?

“I think a lot of the discrimination against transgender people comes from just general sexism.”

 

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"human." is a culmination of the writing, photo, video and design work of Harrison Brink and Alisa Miller. It is meant to act as a forum where we show the vitality of the human spirit through the strife that people face and overcome. If you have any suggestions for the project, please contact us. All input is welcome.

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