By Ashley Dallas,  reporter


As transitioning or transitioned men and women are raising awareness in mainstream media and pop culture and are the topic of heated debates, two students at Pikes Peak Community College share their experiences on the record about what gender identity means to them.

James Morrison, 17, is a student at Pikes Peak Community College who identifies as a gender-fluid man.

Morrison revealed he’d always had mixed feelings about his identity and recalls times he’d feel oddly excited when someone accidentally referred to him as a boy.

Brought up in a Catholic household it was hard for him to explain his identity to others. His mother and brother support him in the best way they can.

Morrison states, “I see it [gender] as an influence and a guide, I’m very proud to be trans, even though I get a lot of judgement and criticism for it.”

He has enjoyed immersing himself in what he refers to as “trans culture” and he strongly supports all those who identify as LGBTQ.

Trans-gendered celebrities like Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Marsha P. Johnson, and Ezra Miller have inspired him over the years.

“I know that being trans isn’t all that I am, but many people seem to stop there when it comes to getting to know me. Sometimes I let being trans consume me. I’m so much more than my gender, as are many others, trans or not,” Morrison says.

Gender identity and gender roles often complement each other.

The Paper asked, “If gender roles didn’t exist, do you think trans-gender men and women would?”

Morrison responds, “I think trans people would still exist even if gender roles didn’t because some trans people don’t conform to gender roles in the present day where they do exist. There is no wrong way to be trans.”

He continues, “Through my experience, being trans is honestly a one of a kind experience all on it’s own. No two trans people are the same, are we all face our own challenges, our downfalls and our triumphs, our routines and our lives. I know I’ll have my fair share of ups and downs in my life because I’m trans. But I love who I am. I take pride in who I am. I am proud to be trans. I’m proud to be James.”

Another student at PPCC, recollects his story and personal experience about being trans-gender.

Avery Mitchell, 19, recalls his feelings and how he didn’t acknowledge them at first.

However, three years later he realized he was identifying differently than the “female” identity to which he’d been born.

Growing up in a Christian family, attending a religious school and church did not make it easy for him to “come out,” but now he identifies as a transgender male.

“It was really, really hard,” he says, recalling his struggle with identity.

His parents were not only shocked, but in disbelief. He recalls his mom thinking it was “body issues.” They’ve since become more accepting of using his name and trying to use his male pronouns.

He doesn’t believe they struggled with his identity because they were Christian but because they were used to raising a daughter and now they have to get used to his true identity.

When asked if he finds it frustrating when people assume his gender, Avery says, “Yeah, I know I can’t do anything right now because I haven’t fully transitioned. A lot of people are conditioned so they see someone who is feminine and call them a girl and see someone who is masculine and call them a boy but it’s not how I see myself.”

Avery believes we’d be better off as a society if we got rid of gender roles.

He says, “It’d be helpful for a lot of people if we got rid of them. I understand why it was a thing in the past, women stay at home while the men go and hunt but it shouldn’t have anything to do with a person’s character.”

He continues saying, “There are people who are comfortable being men but who also like to put on a dress or wear makeup. Gender roles see a man wearing makeup or a dress and automatically label him as gay or a pansy.” Concluding our conversation, Avery explains what it means to be trans-gender.

He says, “In my experience it is you were born a certain way and people attach labels to you. Being trans is seeing how you identify with another gender and feeling comfortable, what makes you comfortable.”


For more information on sexual identity, LGBTQ issues, and student diversity at PPCC, contact The Office of Diversity and Inclusion via