Portrait of Simone Sun

Simón(e)'s Story

I knew I was trans because of science.

I was raised in a strict, conservative, religious household. Nonconformity was discouraged and punished. This conflicted with my identity as a transgender nonbinary woman before I had the words or concepts to express it. I was young and confused, left with many unanswered questions about myself and my place in the world, with no one around me willing or able to help.

But I had science, a process that helps humanity learn about the universe; a way to find answers to my questions. In a way, science became my refuge from the dogmatic and unchanging world I grew up in. Science told me it’s okay to not know and, even better, it’s okay to try to find out! I think it’s why I gravitated to biology and neuroscience. The stories they uncover are in many ways, stories about ourselves. How we came to be (our evolutionary history), who our relatives are (the diversity of life on Earth), how our bodies work (the internal systems that sustain us), who we are (our brains in our bodies).

One of the most important things biology teaches us is that life is dynamic, complex, and diverse. Change and growth are necessary for life to exist. I hear so often that gender transition is “not natural,” that my transness is not real, that I’m just a “biological male,” as if my chromosomes determined exactly who I am long ago. This is simply wrong.

I am a living organism.

I am the DNA that sets the foundation for who I am.

I am the genes that are expressed or repressed at different points in my life.

I am the chromatin that opens and closes with the changing environment.

I am the microbiome that contains more cells than the rest of my entire body.

I am the heart cells that will beat until I am no more.

I am the neurons in my brain that change their connections as I learn and grow.

I am the mind that wakes from sleep with the dreams of the future I have yet to make.

I am a multiplicity and I will not be contained.