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Episode #20: Elliot Gray

December 7, 2020

56:29 minutes


Many of us are aware of what the term transgender means, but we really don’t understand it. Elliot Gray gets that, he notes, “I totally understand people who don’t understand how being transgender could work or how your mind could think that way. But you’re never going to understand. Just like I will never understand the lived experience of a person of color. I will never live that life. But I accept it, I celebrate what it is. You have your own unique experience that makes you, you.” He goes on to tell us, “I’ll never understand an extrovert. I don’t get how you’re energized by being at a party with 50 people. But I accept that you do, so you go and you, do you, I’m just going read on my couch. This is very simplified but being transgender is the exact same thing. I’m not going to shun that person for wanting to go to a party.”

Elliot Gray grew up playing sports and idolizing his big brother. As a young adult Elliot was known as Emma. Elliot competed on female teams and grew up as a girl, but something always felt off and not quite right. A talented rower, Elliot was a member of the national junior team and was the flag bearer for Team Manitoba at the Canada Summer Games in 2017. He went on to row for the University of Victoria and it was there that he started to confront the incongruence he always felt. Elliot recounted that experience telling us, “that’s kind of the point where I was like, Whoa, this is not right. I just remember every night; I was just so upset and every time I was in a [women’s] boat I just felt like a shell of a human being. It was just not what I wanted it to be anymore because I still loved the sport [but it just wasn’t me].” After the school year ended Elliot stepped away from rowing and took time to understand who he was. He returned to school the following year ready to live as his authentic self.

The journey from Emma to Elliot has been a lifelong process. Elliot has learned to love the man that he is and to feel love for role Emma played in his life. When asked if he would change his journey Elliot had this to say, “As hard as it is sometimes, I wouldn’t change it. Because people who go through whatever their unique hardship or challenges in their life constructively are some of the most amazing people . . . If I can be a positive influence in the lives of people close to me, the people I know who have experienced hardship and been a positive influence on my life that, to me, is the most beautiful thing. I don’t think I would trade that for having a slightly easier, or a lot easier time emotionally because I wouldn’t have the emotional depth that I do.”

To learn more about listening to yourself, fighting for your identity and accepting yourself fully, please listen to our open, honest, and brave conversation with Elliot Gray.

“Being transgender, it’s not all that I am, It’s just a small detail in my story that leads to a lot of the great things that I have in my life. I think it enriches who I am, but it’s not who I am.”