I’m Robyn Sheopersad and I’m from Queens, New York.
In 1996, my mother died of a car accident. I had no parental figure really around because my father went into a depression and he was never home and he was always out drinking. We had invited guys over and had dress-up parties and that’s where I discovered my sexuality.
People in my family would obviously talk a lot of things about us – oh, we’re faggots – and this and that. So my grandmother was definitely not one to have it. Being that her daughter died and she wanted to be that close parental figure. She would have arguments with my auntie and their whole family about how, you know, she should leave us alone and we’re just kids and blah, blah, blah. Because of all those things, she was telling my uncles that how – make sure that we like girls and we have girlfriends. It made me feel bad inside. Like, you know, if I were to come out to her or say anything about these feelings, it wouldn’t have been accepted.
After I graduated high school and I went through figuring out who I am, you know, at that time. When I graduated, I was thinking how I was a gay male, you know, so that’s how I identified. And that’s how I lived my life. About two years later, I went back to Florida to visit my family with my grandmother and my auntie and stuff. They all live over there so I went to visit them and it was more like me being myself now. You know, I had a side shave and I was dressing in tighter clothing. At that time, it was like Rihanna had the side shave and all these people are wearing it, so it was, like, oh, that’s, she’s like, “Oh you’re in trend, you know, wearing the tight clothes.”
So I didn’t really come out to her. I just – kind of just lived my life and was like this is who I am. But they could clearly see something going on. So when I came back from the trip, it was a couple months later you know I was dealing with these things emotionally inside me that I didn’t understand.
Since I was younger I always had a feeling of like, I’m not a guy. I felt like a girl. And one other thing that cemented that in my brain was I saw a documentary on a trans woman getting her bottom surgery because I didn’t know something like that was possible. And when I saw that, I was like, that’s what I want. That’s me. I did personal research on it to figure out, you know, why am I feeling this way, why am I having anxiety, why am I having depression.
When I went to the doctor or the therapist, they just kind of confirmed it to me. She just made sure I was not crazy and made sure this is what I really wanted to do. And then within the week, you know, I started seeing my doctor and started my hormones and that was the best decision of my life.
This year, 2019, my auntie was having a big fortieth birthday and she invited my brother and I. And I was very hesitant about going because I knew if I went I couldn’t be something I’m not. I had to go in there and be who I truly am.
The day before I was gonna leave from my trip, my friend she contacted me and we were hanging out, you know, having a slice of pizza. And she was like, “What are you gonna do? What’re you gonna wear?” She was looking at me. “You’re not going to get your nails done?” and stuff.
I’m like, “No, that’s, like, too much for me.”
She was like, “No, you’re not going that way. You’re gonna go and be who you are and not be this little basic bitch.”
So I was like, “You know, what you’re paying for my nails? Sure.” So we went and she got my nails done this really bright pink and sparkles and everything.
I arrive to Florida and I tried my best to hide my nails, putting them in my pocket. Whatever I had to do to still be a little low-key. The real test came when it was the day of the party, which was the next day after we arrived. And, yeah, I started putting on my make up and I got dressed in this cute little pink romper. I started getting the feelings of, like, oh my God, I’m really doing this. And I couldn’t believe this was happening.
So I changed into some basic jeans and a tee shirt and I was like, “Yeah, I’m ready for this party.” But then one of my cousins, she was like “What are you doing? Why you wearing that for? That’s… it doesn’t look cute. It’s not who you are.” So I changed my outfit and I went into the party very… not so confident but I kind of stood to myself and was helping out, like making drinks and stuff, because the party was happening outside and I was inside.
So then my grandmother walks in the door and she’s like, “What are you doing in here?” And she just looks at me up and down.
And I’m like, “Oh I’m just helping making drinks.”
She’s like, “Come outside and meet these…” Some of her friends that I’ve known since I was younger and they haven’t haven’t seen me.
So I’m like, “I’ll be there.” You know, I’m helping to make these drinks or whatever, trying to prolong it as much as I can. And then she just went outside. Not a big deal. At one point, I had my cousin give me her jacket, so I could cover myself up. But then it was Florida, so it was mad hot so I was like, fuck this jacket.
And my grandmother walks back into the kitchen area with her friend that she wanted me to, like, see and meet again. So I saw the friend and she’s, you know, giving me a hug and everything. Like, “Yeah, hello, you know, I’ve changed a lot since the last time we met.”
Her friend was like, “You look very beautiful. You look just like your mother. And it doesn’t matter how you are now.” After my grandmother’s friend just accepted me in that way and just told me some positive things, my grandmother and I didn’t really speak about my transition or anything like that. It was just an unspoken thing, like, this is who you are and we’re just going to accept you and there’s nothing we can do but love you.
Even at the party, one of the guys was like, “Is this your granddaughter?”
And she even said, “Yes.” So that with a very proud moment, just smiling, like, yes, I am your granddaughter now.
So we’re pretty good now. You know, I definitely feel better now that she knows how I am so we could FaceTime and I don’t have to worry about scrambling to take my makeup off and doing my hair different. I’m so glad now that she’s in a space where she could – she could actually want to learn more. And I’m there to take her through that journey and show her that, you know, it’s okay to be a little different, you know, and stand out.
Like, there’s many LGBT kids who are kicked out of their house and not accepted by their family. That’s really – I’ve heard those stories and they’re not… they’re not so ideal. And so when I think about what I went through through my transition, it makes me kind of appreciate my life more – that I’ve had people who just respect who I am. As long as you respect me as a person, that’s all I care.