LGBT Feature: Kristopher’s Story
In our feature, the term gay refers only to the attractions and orientations of individuals and not to their sexual activity. The writers have left out any reference to positions on moral and political questions to avoid polarizing discussion.
For those of us who are not LGBT, we hope these stories provide a glimpse into the lives of some of our brothers and sisters at Calvin. For those of us who are LGBT, we want you to see that you are not alone, and the Calvin community cares deeply about you.
Many of the students who are LGBT have not experienced a supporting, caring community at Calvin, but after we hear stories and place a face on an issue, we may still take our differing positions, but we will refuse to do battle. Join us as we listen attentively, respond thoughtfully and love graciously.
Kristopher Zasadil, a sophomore from Wayland, Mich., is studying English writing and classics in hopes of becoming an author. Kristopher serves on the Sexuality and Gender Awareness leadership team.
When I was little, two of my best friends were in Boy Scouts. They told me stories about all the adventures they got into. It sounded like heaven to me. Yet when I asked my parents if I could join, they put me in Girl Scouts.
This is just one example of countless difficult times in my childhood when things just didn’t match up for me. It has always been difficult, feeling in my heart like I was a boy, when everything else told me otherwise.
In elementary school, I knew that I was not like the girls in my class. It’s hard to try to put that difference into words, even now, but I just always had an intrinsic feeling that I was a man. I knew there was something not right about the way I looked and the way I was supposed to act.
Puberty was probably the hardest time for me growing up. My friends were excited to go shopping for makeup and dresses and bras, or to dream about their futures as potential mothers and wives.
But I felt none of that joy or hope. I thought about my future as a woman with dread, not wanting any part of it.
So when my body began to change during puberty, it was like a bomb had been dropped — I finally was forced to realize that there was no way I was ever going to become the man I wanted to be. Not when my chest bloomed out and my hips flared.
I was uncomfortable in my own skin; I was almost sickened by looking at myself in the mirror. I innately felt like I was a boy, but it was like I was trapped in a female body. Even though everyone said I was a girl, I wasn’t so sure.
Through high school, trying to live as a woman felt like wearing a mask and going through motions.
I began thinking of myself as a man, realizing how right that felt.
When I was home alone, I would cross-dress. I would bind my chest, stuff a pair of socks in my pants and steal some of my dad’s cologne. Then I would swagger in front of the mirror, lower my voice and act all suave like Shatner’s Kirk. This was my secret that I kept hidden from everyone else.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I came out as transgender to myself. When I told my friends about a year later, they were not at all surprised and treated me no differently. My parents were skeptical at first, but are now more supportive than I could have asked for.
As a Christian space, Calvin has a lot of work to do in becoming welcoming to all people. One thing that stands out is the strong heteronormalcy in things like serenades and floor dates.
The assumption that everyone on the floor wants to sing love songs to, or go on dates with, floors full of the opposite sex, can be ostracizing. They can be fun rituals, but they can put some in an awkward position.
It’s hard for me to identify as a man and live on a girl’s floor. I often feel like the odd one out.
But despite how hard it can be sometimes, I’ve found Calvin to be a great space. Sexuality and Gender Awareness is a beautiful, welcoming group where I have found my place.
My resident assistant and resident director know my struggles and do everything they can to help me out.
While Calvin has a way to go yet, I’m glad to say that we’re on the right track.