NDSU student Peter Buggert shares his story
Although Peter Buggert did not know what transgender was until he was 15, he knew as a child that he was a boy. Originally from Alexandria, Minnesota, and now attending North Dakota State, Buggert shared his story of being a trans man.
Since he can remember, Buggert would tell his mother that he was a boy. And he would ask for hand-me-downs from his three older brothers.
A memory that stood out to him as a child was playing hockey in his brother’s hand-me-down snow gear. One time a man ran into him on the ice and said, “Hey, watch out little guy.” This made Buggert excited for three days straight. He constantly reminded his parents of the man who called him a “guy.”
“I guess just having a story that goes well is something that I’m really grateful for.”PETER BUGGERT, NDSU STUDENT
Later in life, when Buggert learned the term transgender, he planned to change his name legally. At one of his previous jobs, each of the lockers were assigned to employees, but the taped names were stuck, so the names on the lockers were old. His locker name was “Peter.”
Buggert wanted to fit in with the rest of his family’s names: Caleb, Luke, Ben and Dani. Before he came out, he would constantly ask his mother how she felt about certain names and use her opinion to decide on a name for himself. That is when “Peter” stuck with him.
Although he has not experienced discrimination within his job search, Buggert said he worries about it in the future. His name is legally changed, but on documents he must provide past names, so “No matter what I do, my whole life, they’re (employers) going to know,” Buggert said.
Most of his friends and family were not surprised by his coming out as transgender, but a fear he had was how his family would react.
“Before I came out, I was super scared my parents were going to kick me out, that everyone was going to hate me and that it was going to be a really hard time. My parents, they’re kind of just the typical Midwestern family,” Buggert explained. “And so they weren’t really supportive of being trans before, but they love me no matter what, so they’re OK with it, and I’d say they’re more supportive now.” Now, he explained how his whole family accepts him, even his “old Catholic grandma.”
As a freshman on campus, he has not had any bad experiences because most do not know he is a trans man unless he chooses to share. “I’m here, and people don’t know I’m trans,” Buggert said smiling. “I never thought that would be a thing, you know, that I’d look like a guy and that people wouldn’t be able to tell.”
While most do not know his story, others who do tend to ask questions politely. He gets questions like “How did you know?” “How old were you?” “Doesn’t it worry you that you’re going to change back one day?” and “How do I know?” from younger people who are trying to figure out if they also identify as transgender. These are not harmful in Buggert’s eyes, but the internet is a different story, where the questions and peoples’ opinions become worse.
In the past, he’s been called a “sex freak” online multiple times. Other times, people try to stereotype him with “super butch lesbian” to which he explains that he is interested in men and they respond with him wanting to be a “gay guy.”
Many stereotype people within the LGBTQ+ community, and sometimes they do not realize they are doing it. Some believe that because Buggert identifies as a transgender man, he is a social justice warrior (SJW), feminist or liberal rather than conservative. Others question how he can be a biology major and ask, “How can you believe in biology?”
Buggert explained that many people do not understand or know the definitions of a trans man and a trans woman, which results in him getting questions like, “Oh, so you have a penis?” For some, that would make them uncomfortable, but Buggert laughs it off. He understands that it is even difficult for himself to explain. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a trans man is defined as “a man who was identified as female at birth.”
Buggert wanted to share his story because he is grateful. “Not a lot of trans people are willing to be public.” He explained how many are scared for their life, scared of people’s reactions, scared that they will be kicked out and scared of many more potential outcomes. “I feel like it’s kind of my responsibility, as someone who’s in a really good place compared to other people, to try and help when I can,” Buggert said.
There is no question that acceptance and inclusion of those in the LGBTQ+ community is becoming better, but it still could use work across the world. Many people in the transgender community have created a map of which states are more accepting than others according to their laws. Minnesota is toward the top of the list, while North Dakota is very low. Buggert explained that in North Dakota there is not a lot of representation for the LGBTQ+ community, but that “it’s about what you would expect.”