Cecilia Gentili couldn’t stand the looks on their faces. The looks waiting room patients would give her when a nurse called a man’s name and she stood up instead. The looks nurses would give her when they said they were looking for someone else. The looks she’d get at the bank when she tried to open an account.
“They made you feel like less than a person,” Gentili says.
Gentili is a transgender woman, and in person, with shoulder-length blond hair, she is the woman she always knew she was. On paper, however, it was another story. For years, Gentili’s legal name and documents didn’t match her identity, and navigating that discrepancy became a daily struggle. For transgender people — those who don’t identify with the sex are born with — any time they have to show ID can turn into moment of awkwardness, humiliation or, in some cases, discrimination: making credit card purchases, applying for jobs, checking into hotels, securing housing, getting into school, voting. Gentili even avoided medical care and traveling through airports because of how uncomfortable the interactions made her feel.