(Editor’s note: This story is the sixth part of a multi-part series “Identity Crisis,” examining the transition from one gender to another that began with Issue #2 and concludes in Issue #6. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.)
by: MATT MOLINAR/Opinion Editor
Ever since he was a child, Cadyn Cypert has always known he was different.
Growing up in a conservative Baptist home, as well as transitioning from female to male, has given 20-year-old Cypert one of the most unique life experiences anyone can go through.
“I first knew when I was 4 years old,” Cypert said in an exclusive interview with the Plainsman Press. “I always turned toward the male aspect of everything. My parents would say that it was just a phase, and I always thought I would wake up one day and think ‘maybe they are right.’”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gender identity develops in children around the age of 4 years old. Not to be confused with sex, gender identity in children is usually easily self-identifiable with biological sex. However, for some children, the link between the two may not be so clear.
“As my life progressed, I always just leaned toward the guy things,” Cypert said. “In junior high, everyone told me that I was gay, so I just identified as lesbian. Senior year, I met Cody, the first transgender person I had ever seen. I remember bawling because I was like, ‘This is what I am.’ So, I made the decision to come out when I graduated.”
After graduating from Coronado High School in Lubbock, Cypert began attending South Plains College as a commercial music major. In his second semester, he met with Anne Akin, a counselor who assisted him while coming out. Cypert says he has been out since Feb. 13, 2014.
After coming out as transgender, Cypert began meeting with a counselor to begin the gender transition process.
“When I first started going, I thought I would just get hormones right away,” Cypert said. “That’s not how it worked for me. She [the counselor] made me go through a lot. There were a lot of sessions and breaking down, because she wanted to make sure I was 100-percent sure this is what I wanted.”
According to Cypert, the process of being prescribed hormones for transgender individuals involves having a letter written from a doctor or a counselor, and getting blood drawn to ensure the individual is ready for the treatment. After hormones are prescribed, the individual must return for monthly checkups to determine whether he or she must increase or decrease the dosage.
After six months of intensive therapy, Cypert was excited to have the therapist sign his letter, allowing him to be prescribed testosterone. The therapist began prescribing him anti-depressants leading up to his prescription of testosterone.
“She didn’t sign my T letter,” Cypert explained. “She said, ‘If your family doesn’t approve, then I won’t sign the letter.’ I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, so that wasn’t going to happen.”
After not being able to receive the letter, Cypert left the therapist and found a doctor who would help him jumpstart his transition by allowing him to receive testosterone.
“I ended up going to see a doctor in town named Dr. Pravu,” Cypert said. “I sat down with him and had a conversation, and he wrote my T letter that day.”
After going through the precautionary tests to determine if Cypert would be ready for hormone replacement therapy, he was prescribed one milligram of testosterone every two weeks.
“It’s injected either in your hip or anywhere else that has lots of muscular tissue,” Cypert explained. “It doesn’t feel good. It’s thick, like peanut butter, but it all comes down to what I do to be happier.”
Cypert has been on hormones for six months and has already experienced many changes to his body.
“First, I noticed that my hair was getting thicker,” Cypert said. “Hair started growing in places that I’ve never had hair grow before. After three months, my vocal cords stretched out, and my voice started getting deeper. But it’s different for everybody.”
Like most LGBT youth, Cypert was bullied in high school. Even as a lesbian, Cypert was bullied and eventually transferred schools due to the bullying. Before transitioning, Cypert made the decision to come out to his close friends.
“I came out to a couple of my friends to test the waters,” Cypert said. “I lost my best friend, even though he was gay. He said he would never be able to see me as a guy.”
After graduating from high school, Cypert began attending SPC. Because Cypert hasn’t had a legal name change or gender change, beginning every semester calls for him to alert professors of his preferred name and pronouns.
“The majority of the time, they are OK with it, and sometimes they get a little freaked out,” Cypert said. “But now that I’m on testosterone, it just clicks more.”
Cypert has experienced a large amount of backlash, both at work and at college for using the men’s bathroom. At the time, there was no unisex bathroom, so he had to chose to use the bathroom with the gender he identified as.
“Last fall semester, Yik Yak was blowing up,” Cypert said. “There was a post floating around about me because I was using the men’s bathroom and this guy flipped out. Everybody was going at each other. That’s when I was told not to use the bathroom, and to just go home. At the Administration Building, they said, ‘just walk to another building. Don’t mind them.’”
During the Lubbock Gay Pride festival, hosted by the Texas Tech University Gay Straight Alliance, Cypert was given the opportunity to prepare a speech and present it at the festival. Katie Miller, president of the TTUGSA, appointed Cypert as a replacement for another speaker.
“I prepared this speech about my struggles and getting to where I was at now,” Cypert said. “I’ve never spoken to a crowd like that. I only talk about my transition in videos and with small groups of people. It was awesome.”
After experiencing the struggles that come with being transgender, Cypert says he enjoys helping out children who may not have the same support systems that some transgender children have.
“My advice to young transgender people is that people will tell you that it’s a phase,”
Cypert said. “They’ll say you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you have questions, please, don’t feel afraid to go to a counselor. They will help you.”