With Thanksgiving in our rear view mirrors and Christmas just a couple weeks away, family is more relevant than any other time of the year. When I stepped on campus back in 2004, that is the one thing that stuck out to me, Trimble Tech was a great big family that accepted anybody and treated everybody equally. Over the years, Trimble Tech has had our fair share of LGBT students and they have come and gone as they have been part of our Bulldog family. Having seen the struggle that some of these students go through internally I thought it was important to share these struggles that one of our own has gone through in hopes that if there are others out there they know they are not along especially this time of the year when we need our friends and family the most. When I thought about this idea I reached out to Nathan, our December Alumni Watch, and asked if he was cool with it and if I could share his story. Nathan agreed so here is what we talked about after sitting down and having a conversation about Nathan’s past. First let me say Nathan graduated Trimble Tech as Elvia Duran and now goes by Nathan and I want to thank Nathan very much for spending time and sharing this story so others may gain strength by this. Let me also say that I knew Elvia and I have had numerous discussions with Nathan over the years, and I am extremely proud that he is willing to open up and share this information.
High school can be challenging enough this day and age so I asked Nathan how was high school for you before you realized who you truly were?
“It honestly wasn’t terrible in terms of making friends and having good grades. But beyond that, I felt frustrated with myself and I wasn’t sure why. I just felt like there was a part of myself that I wasn’t understanding or being honest about, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.”
When did you realize or what was the moment that you realized who you really were?
“During my second semester of college I was diagnosed with severe depression. I was struggling mentally in so many ways and I did not understand why. I was doing really well in school, but everything else was in shambles. My therapist of two years suggest I see a gender therapist. I didn’t understand why, but after the first appointment, everything started to make sense. I went home after my first appointment and searched YouTube about gender dysphoria. I was exposed to many stories of transgender individuals that were finally figuring themselves out and how happy they were. I started crying after two hours of watching YouTube videos. I was happy and terrified at the same time. I finally figured out why I couldn’t identify with who I was. I felt peace and fear all at once. I knew there was a long road ahead of me and that was truly terrifying.”
After you realized things, did you feel more comfortable in your skin? Had you told anybody at that time?
“I was able to be more at peace with myself knowing why I wasn’t able to connect with my body. I came out to my brother first and soon after my mom. They were incredibly supportive and encouraged me to seek my happiness. My dad needed more time to adjust, but he reassured me that he loved me and wanted to see me happy.”
Was there a teacher or friend who was there for you and helped you out?
“When I first came out I reached out to a few friends from high school and some high school instructors that I wanted to tell. The response was positive for the most part. Their words of encouragement meant so much to me. I was about to embark on a very difficult and rewarding journey and I needed every word of encouragement I could get. “
What was your major at Tech, were you involved in anything besides HST? Did you come out of Tech with any certifications through HST?
“My major was the HST/EMT program. I did not take my National Registry Exam after graduating high school. At the time, I was determined to pursue nursing. After my freshman year of college, I decided I wanted to pursue emergency medicine. During the EMT program at Tech, I fell in love with emergency medicine and wanted to pursue a career as a trauma nurse. I was also involved in theater arts, which helped me a lot with making friends and really fitting in.”
After you graduated, did things change for you? What did you end up doing?
“Life has been something I could have never envisioned when I was in high school. And I mean that in the most positive way. Currently, I am attending paramedic school and plan to graduate December of 2018. While I attend school, I’ll be working in an ambulance helping the citizens of Fort Worth. But work has been very supportive. They changed my name on my I.D. when I came out and used the proper pronouns immediately. I was the first transgender individual to come out at work and that encouraged them to create a policy that protected transgender individuals in the work place from any form of discrimination. I am truly grateful to them for being as supportive as they have been and continue to be.”
Going through the physical changes, what/how did you feel?
“At first I felt like the changes weren’t happening fast enough. But before I knew it, I was a completely different person, physically, in a year. It’s hard to believe looking back at old pictures, how much I have changed.”
Did you have any really dark moments you would be willing to share? How did you get out of or overcome that dark moment? What made you realize you needed to put one foot in front of the other and that it would be alright?
I remember the summer before my freshman year of high school I was suicidal. I would think about hurting myself from the moment I woke up to the moment I shut my eyes to sleep. It only got worse. That’s when I realized that I needed to reach out. I didn’t want to die. But the battle in my head was getting out of control. I reached out to a friend and she truly played a huge part in saving me from myself. Because of her, I built up the courage to talk to my parents. They were supportive and told me they were willing to do what ever it took to help me. I started counseling shortly after and began to take antidepressants. What I took away from this was that, I don’t have to deal with things on my own. There is always someone out there willing to listen and help you get through something. I underestimated my friends and family. I truly believed I was only going to burden them, but they showed me otherwise.
How did Tech/society/your friends accept you through this process? Did you care?
“At first, I was very concerned about what people would think/say. I did not want to lose anyone of my friends or family. But as time went by, and I became more and more comfortable in my skin, I stopped caring. I realized that the people that wanted to stick around were worth holding onto. But honestly, the majority of my peers, friends, coworkers, and family accepted me and that was an incredibly feeling all on its own.”
Considering where you have come from, where do you want to end up in your personal journey?
“Physically and mentally, I am in a place that I can see myself for a long time. I’m not looking too far ahead at this time. But I know that I’ll always do what I find necessary to be happy in life.”
What are your future career goals?
“After paramedic school, I plan to work as a paramedic for a few years and pursue a bachelors degree. I haven’t really decided in what yet. I’m caught between nursing, PA/MD, or future EMT/Paramedic instructor. I’m sure that once I get there, I’ll know.”
Looking back, would you change anything?
“I wouldn’t change a thing. I believe that things worked out for the better and can’t imagine living my life any other way.”
If you could give any advice to someone in high school struggling with who they are or having the courage to tell your parents, what would that be?
“Life gets so much easier when you stop trying to hide/deny the truth from yourself. Be you, the world will adjust. You might lose some people, and that will be difficult, without a doubt. The people worth keeping will want to be in your life and those are the people that matter most.”
Again I want to thank Nathan for his time and sharing about his journey from Elvia to Nathan, it shows a lot of courage. Nathan is and will always will be a Bulldog Alum and is someone hopefully that will help someone out there who might be struggling with the same things Elvia did. I want to wish everybody Happy Holidays and ask you to look out for your neighbors and going as far as to say hello to a stranger or holding a door open for someone. Let’s lead the way and make this Holiday Season a joyous one!