Liam Gillin has spent plenty of his time in the wings of the Nelly Goletti Theatre doing tech, learning his trade in media studies—making it all happen backstage. Liam would love nothing more than to try something new and audition for an acting role, but not be judged by his physical appearance or the pitch of his voice.
This academic year gives Liam a chance to start fresh—to be seen not for what body he was born with, but for who he is.
‘IT’S BEING MYSELF,’—Since this fall semester, Liam is now known to the world as a transgender man. Hailing from Garden City, New York, he came back for his second year by transitioning from his legal name to Liam and re-establishing himself with family, friends, and the Marist community. Factors such as gender norms, social standards, and criticism present roadblocks for Liam. He responds, “It’s not rebelling, it’s being myself.” After beginning his transition, Liam has had to adjust to new and old relationships along with his identity. “Coming out as transgender is very glamorized. And it’s not. It’s tough. You struggle immensely with yourself and with other people,” he said.
When he came out, several hometown friends did not accept or understand the change. With his family, adapting to the daughter to son/niece to nephew roles has been its own challenge. Oftentimes, people default to his original gender and question his motivations. “Nothing will hurt more than my birth name. It feels like an invalidation of my identity,” he said. “It feels like you’re wearing an outfit you never wanted to wear, glued to your body and you can’t rip it off.” In response to his struggles with identity, Liam turned to his passion for media. Before starting college, he endured years of bullying and created YouTube videos as an outlet. He made comedy videos then later, LGBT lifestyle videos.Though his account is currently inactive, he hopes to document his daily life and his transition in the near future. For now, he is living his regular life along with what he calls, “those days of dysphoria, where I wish I was in the body I wanted my whole life.”
Liam Gillin came out as a transgender man in Fall 2017 and aims to help Marist to become a diverse and accepting place for the LGBT community. He is an active member of Marist College Club of Theater Arts (MCCTA). He is also an active member of Marist’s LGBT club, Fox Pride, and is working on several projects such as an LGBT-inclusive prom and ensuring gender neutral bathrooms on campus. He hopes to work with internet content creation in the future, and ulimately, to help others express their true selves.
NOT WITHOUT SUPPORT—Liam is not without support, however, and is involved with Marist’s LGBT club, Fox Pride. There, he receives encouragement from peers during his transition and help others handle their struggles. He explained that the club is not LGBT exclusive but communicates a more universal message: “Coming out is something that everyone is going to do in their life. We’re talking about loving and accepting yourself and how to support other people.”
Giving presentations on LGBT life and advocating for gender neutral bathrooms are only some of Liam’s current projects. He created a special campus-wide, LGBT-inclusive formal called “The Lavender Ball” to take place in March. One of his close friends, Caroline Fiske ‘20, affirms that Liam is learning from his own hardships to influence others. “Liam stands up for what he believes in despite what other people think. He is not afraid to talk to new people, try new things, and be his true self."
Although his coming out began only six months ago, Liam has simply been living his life. He cut his hair short and wears the clothes he likes. “I’m just like every other guy. My body parts are not defining my gender. It’s how I am and how I feel about myself.