Meet Ym, fka Chad Browne-Springer

#LetsFaceIt

“There’s space to relearn and unlearn the things we were taught as kids, or things we picked up and thought were true only to learn they weren’t.” It’s a belief that gives Ym (fka chad browne-springer), who is transitioning, hope in an era of “don’t say gay” bans and increased restricted health access for transgendered people. 

An artist, composer, musician in Phat A$tronaut, and photographer in the Greater Hartford area, Ym says there is “massive stigma and misunderstandings and miscommunications about any queer related anything or gender variants. In my experience of transitioning, the impact has been less about a physical aspect and more about the mental and spiritual parts. The internal parts aren’t discussed so much because people are so focused on anatomy. People don’t understand how complicated things are.”

Ym’s feelings of being disconnected from their birth body began when they were young. “There’s a notion around transitioning that it becomes more serious or it’s taken more seriously when you get into the hormonal, chemically shifting places, or start expressing or dressing differently,” they say, noting they are about six months in taking gender affirming medicine. “The stigmas go deeper and further back. While I’ve started the chemical and medical shifting more recently, this feeling of differentness and the questions and wondering have gone back to when I was a kid. A couple of decades ago I had questions and other people questioned how I fit into the places I was told I should fit or forced to be a part of.”

But Ym had no language to express their feelings and questions. “The transitional aspect is valid prior to any medical stuff, knowing there’s something you need to explore or embrace within yourself in a world that doesn’t teach you about it, doesn’t give you any language or tells you you’re wrong or it’s a sin—I have heard all of those things my entire life,” Ym says. “Those are the things that make you feel isolated. It has you on your own because you’re seeing around you that the people who say they love you are simultaneously feeding you hate and dissonance and these messages of unacceptance whether they know they’re doing it or not. Those aspects are so ingrained into our DNA and mindsets that it takes time to come to a place of embracing yourself if you don’t have or are not surrounded by a support system that will actually genuinely love you without the contingencies of them thinking of who you are.”

Ym credits the pandemic with helping them decide to transition. “The grief [of losing an aunt] plus isolation plus grieving my career—it got to a point where I was going to kill myself,” they say. “It didn’t work out in a physical sense of leaving this plain but it did have an impact in a metaphysical way. In many ways I did die. 

“In this second life I had to address all the things I realized I wasn’t addressing before,” Ym continues. “Regardless of the stigma and sin and hate and pain and all the fears, I had to make decisions for myself to live a life genuine to not only who I am and have always been but who I want to be in the future.”

And so we get to the hope part. “I would love for people to be open to the notion that they may not know as much as they think they do. To be open to having conversations and questions and not the conversations and questions where you are trying to prove someone wrong or right or just interacting with humans,” Ym says. “Just hear them out and try to embrace people for who they are rather than who you think they are.”

And to those who may be trying to decide their journey’s path, Ym offers this: “Regardless of where you are in your journey, regardless of who you are or find yourself to be, you don’t have to go through surgeries or name changes to be valued and loved. You have value as you are. Take your time finding yourself. It’s YOUR journey. It might be tough but it also might be worth making a life worth living. 

Each day in May, you will meet a new face and a new lived experience, because #LetsFaceIt there is no one-sized fits all when it comes to our wellbeing. View past posts here.

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