Homecoming queen nominee talks about being transgender

The Daily News


Editor's note: This Q & A is not an endorsement for the title of Homecoming Queen.


For 73 years, Ball State has been crowning Homecoming kings and queens from student and greek organizations on campus. This year is bound to be different from any other before because a transgendered student was nominated for the position of Homecoming queen for the first time. Since the announcement of the nominees in the summer, the Daily News sat down with junior telecommunications major Natalie Roman to find out what it’s like to be a transgendered student at Ball State, as well as what her nomination means for her and Ball State. 


Q:
What does it mean to be transgender?

A:
“Being a transgender means that your birth sex does not align with your internal sense of gender identity. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you change from one sex to the other.”


Q:
When did you know that you were transgender?

A:
“I’ve had feelings since I was about 5- or 6-years-old, and I didn’t really pursue them because I wasn’t allowed to. I think I came to terms with it at 16, and I started acting on it when I was 18 and in college.”


Q:
How did your family take the news?

A:
“They didn’t take it very well; they disowned me and I don’t talk to them anymore. They still try their best to make sure that I don’t do well financially. So they cut me off completely and didn’t sign my [Free Application for Federal Student Aid]. It’s been very rough, but it’s gotten much better since my second year at Ball State, and I’m really glad to finally get away from that negative situation.” 


Q:
Where are you in the process of your transition?

A: 
"As of right now, it’s one year and six months of hormone replacement therapy and I have changed my legal birth name to Natalie Grace Roman, and that’s about the extent of it. I think the thing that people get wrong is that transitioning is this end goal process — where you get surgery at the end — but I’m not completely set in stone what I want to do with my body. So I say that socially, I am who I want to be right now, physically, not so much. I am absolutely dead set on getting sexual reassignment surgery, but as far as my current situation goes, it’s nowhere in my future unless I start group funding.” 


Q:
Are you getting support throughout your process and who from?

A: 
"Preliminarily, the majority of support through my process has been from Spectrum and the Counseling Center. Also, my husband Scot and I think the majority of it is Spectrum, preliminarily — just being around people who are like me and meeting people like me. And also, Internet resources like Reddit because Reddit has a very strong trans community.” 


Q: 
With the Counseling Center, did you find that helpful? What would you say to other people struggling with this issue about the Counseling Center?

A:
"As far as the Counseling Center’s process for getting medical attention goes, I do believe I am the first male to female to go through the center — also the [Amelia T. Wood] Health Center, in order to get my medications prescribed to me by the Health Center. So I guess I kind of broke down that barrier for transwomen to start transitioning on campus. Now there’s much better precedent, and we’re finally in a place where we can treat our trans students with respect, and the Counseling Center is a good resource for that.”


Q: 
How has Spectrum played a role in your support?

A:
“Spectrum has been a wonderful experience. I have never met a group of people so loving and caring about every single one of their members. Last year, I was appointed to the PR position and this year, I’ve been voted in and that means that I’m officially on the exec board. And I feel like as far as it goes now, Spectrum can be an organization that’s not only serving the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, but also the trans community because it’s still relatively new, even if it has start up at the same time as the movement. As far as Spectrum goes, I guess we have progressed beyond just gay-straight labels and have pushed more toward and greater acceptance of the gender and sexual minority community.”

 

Q:
What does this mean for you?

A:
"It’s not entirely for me, it’s for the organization as a whole. It says a lot about Spectrum now to finally put in a trans candidate and treat it like it’s not that big of a deal. I think it’s really cool that Ball State is going to allow it. To me, it’s still a matter of precedence that I’m going to be able to be that person in the spotlight and deal with all the people who are trying to get me down. It means that I can show myself as a normal person and every other trans person on this campus as just a normal person. And I think that’s the most important part. In today’s age I think it’s kind of a big deal but I feel within a couple of decades, it won’t be.”

 

Q:
What does this mean for Spectrum?

A:
“It shows not only Spectrum’s confidence in me but also the confidence in the Ball State community to treat me normally. It’s pretty cool.”

 

Q:
What does this mean for Ball State as a university, and what does this mean for its future?

A:
“It puts us on the map. Personally ... I looked at Ball State as that beacon of hope and equality. Ball State themselves has really helped me particularly, and I know that when I took my first campus tour and I saw ‘Safe Zone’ signs on doors and I read about Spectrum and I read about the Counseling Center, I just knew that this was the place for me.” 


Q:
Had you known about Ball State’s acceptance in that area before orientation?

A:
“I only got glimpses of it during orientation. I also came here for my major so it really worked out.”


Q:
Spectrum’s mission is to “educate the Ball State and Muncie communities on lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered issues, cultures and history through various programming efforts.” How are you planning on using this to educate Ball State students as well as the people of Muncie?

A:
"This, itself, is going to start a discussion and there are going to be people who will most likely say negative things about me and it’s going to be a conversation eventually. People are going to talk. As far as educating the wider community, Ball State in itself is one of the largest employers in Muncie and it is a good staple in Muncie itself. I think as Homecoming queen candidate, as well as a member of Spectrum’s exec board, that we should really talk about uniting Ball State’s LGBT community with the outside community. Because there is a large amount of kids in high school and middle school right now that know, and they need a place to go. There are groups like Muncie Outreach that are helping and I think that’s really cool. I know Burris [Laboratory School] started their Gay, Straight Alliance recently, and that’s pretty cool. So I feel like as far as what this says to Ball State and what this says to Muncie itself, it says we’re going to be that place — we’re going to be that safe place, we’re awesome like that.”


Q:
Your candidacy is open to interpretation by everyone involved in Homecoming as well as everyone who knows about your story, what is the most important thing you want people to take away from your candidacy?

A:
"This is not a political statement. My existence in itself is not a political statement, so therefore me running for Homecoming queen is not a political statement. It is, however, revolutionary in some way and I can’t deny that. I don’t feel like being tokenized, but I also feel like it is important.”

Comments

More from The Daily






This Week's Digital Issue