Phoenix Schuster

LGBTQ

I'm Phoenix (he/him), a queer trans guy who graduated in 2016.

It took a lot of time and self discovery to figure out these parts of myself, but I knew that there was something different about who I was as early as childhood. I had a clear idea of my sexuality from age 11 or 12 and there was no doubt in my mind that I was not straight. I just always knew that my attraction wasn't limited to guys. For many years I considered myself to be bisexual and having grown up semi regularly attending church I knew that there were many Christians who viewed that part of me negatively so I kept it pretty well hidden. Up through the end of high school I felt some shame about my sexuality, but not nearly as much as I would feel later on.

I transferred to Cedarville after my first semester of college and thought it would be a fresh start for me. Within a year of attending I was struggling with serious depression and anxiety that centered around who I was. The frequent messages comparing the queer community to predators and how we should be ashamed of who we are were taking a toll on me.

The second semester of my sophomore year I remember starting my desperate attempts to “pray the gay away.” I was very private about my struggles because I knew it was dangerous for anyone to know. After a year of praying I realized that I wasn't going to change and I became even more distressed. I did come out to a very very small number of people, but only those that I felt I could trust with my life. The fear of being discovered and expelled was constant. This continued into my junior year.

Sometime during my senior year I started quietly questioning my gender. I had always felt deep down that I wasn't a woman, and as a kid I would often try on some of my dad's clothes or wear his cologne when I was alone. During high school I grappled with the feeling of admiring other guys and wanting to be them. Referring to myself as a woman felt like a lie. Even though I had these feelings I didn't figure out that I was trans until my last year of college, when I came across resources that were helpful. I experienced the same shame about my gender that I had felt about my sexuality for the same exact reasons. Shortly after graduating I came out to some close friends as non-binary, and then eventually realized that I'm a trans guy a few years later.

My time at Cedarville was quite difficult and has left me with a lot of struggles and trauma that I need to work through, and I am no longer a Christian as a result. I do have a few fond memories of my time there, mostly related to the classes I took for my major and the few friends that I was able to make. Now that I've graduated I'm finally able to live as my authentic self and it's been wonderful. I'm happily married, I'm fully out as trans and queer, and I've been on hormones for around 9 months now.

To anyone who is currently attending Cedarville and struggling with who they are, I want you to know that you are wonderful, strong, and perfect just the way you are. Things may be tough right now but I promise you that you can be happy one day. If you ever need someone to talk to feel free to contact me at phoenixschuster@gmail.com.