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In the year 2015, a student graduated from West Broward High School. While she was here, she was a leader in both color guard and the band program. She played flute and piccolo and in her senior year performed a saber solo in the marching band show for West Broward’s Performance Ensemble. Her high school years seemed to be perfect; however, she continually struggled with her gender identity. After graduating, she was able to express herself more openly, beginning the transition from male to female. During her transition, she entered the world of South Florida drag queen competitions under the name, Jane Bell.
Since middle school, Bell was certain she was gay, but as she entered her junior year of high school, she didn’t feel this label entirely encompassed her identity. She came to the conclusion that she was transgender after she graduated, and this coincided with the beginning of her drag career. Her experience in color guard gave her an advantage in a community centered around music, personality, and dance.
“There’s a lot of similarities between drag and guard,” Bell said. “They both have the same mannerisms; they both thrive off the same energy.”
While many high school students were spending their junior years worrying about getting into college, Bell had to struggle with the topic of her gender identity.
“How could I make friends when they were befriending an idea rather than a person?” said Bell. “I had to convince myself that I wasn’t trans in order to be successful in high school.”
Fear dictated Bell’s life throughout her high school career. She still suffers from anxiety, like a lot of trans women, but thankfully she has a great support system in her friends who clear all of her doubts.
“The anxiety that a lot of trans people face is fear of being harassed or hurt by being themselves,” said Bell. “Transgender women are just like cisgender women. The only difference is the body they were born with.”
Bell was unable to transition from high school because she hadn’t yet fully come to terms with her gender identity, and transitioning is a lengthy and complicated process.
“The accessibility to transition is not there and that should definitely be changed.”
Bell may have had a turbulent past in high school, but now that she is able to express herself in an accepting community, she can look forward to achieving her goals. Today, Bell lives full time as a woman.