Husky 100

January 25, 2017

Terra Hoy’s letter to her 12-year-old self

The journey to leadership is a personal one as well as a public one. As Terra Hoy reflects on the experiences that led to her becoming a member of the first Husky 100 cohort, she shares this letter to her 12-year-old self.

Terra Hoy Husky 100

A letter to My 12-Year-Old Self on Being a Feminist Transwoman of Color and member of the UW Husky 100 2016 Cohort

Dear Michael Terra,

I send you my dearest condolences – puberty waits around the corner. When the male parts between your legs develop a mind of its own, you will feel absolutely repulsed and detached from it. But don’t worry – it’s only temporary. Many people struggle with their bodies in similar ways, and you will be there to support them. Like all things, this too shall pass.

Once you are more comfortable in your body, your existence will make great changes in the world. Not only in your own health, but also for large populations affected by your multiple careers. Take lead in filling the gaps in equal rights! People will confide in you for support and guidance, and, as someone interested in public health, policy, and governance who has faced relatable challenges of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and finances, you will be able to take action.

Trust me when I promise you a future of leadership. In your first few years of college, you will: maintain the health and safety of up to 30 retired and/or disabled residents simultaneously as a nursing assistant; share stories of transitioning from male to female with many audiences with different understandings of gender, sex, sexuality, and identities; advocate for the underlying mental and physical health disparities in transgender healthcare; and even work to promote safe environments in which diverse students can advance in their studies.

I know it’s a lot to take in, but don’t let these endeavors scare you away. After all these accomplishments, you will be given a medal from UW. This medal – The Husky 100 – will hang in you and your partner’s room to remind you of the current and future successes you bear. You are one of the 100 awarded with this new recognition by the University, including the UW President!

No matter how many days and nights you spend depressed and alone, contemplating suicide, believing you cannot become the real you, please remember that YOUR FUTURE SELF is telling you that you DO have a bright future, things DO work out, and the feelings of hopelessness DO come to an end.

Ma spent her childhood escaping from the Khmer Rouge, so she is passing on to you the first generation of education, good fortune, and privileges she and the rest of our family never had. Ma and big sis have and always continue to show you how to provide for the well-being of those in need. Don’t forget you are in this world to love yourself, the ones who continue to suffer, and the family who brought you to where you are today.

You do NOT need to be assigned female at birth to be a strong female like your mother and sister, though your future self may or may not have a sex reassignment surgery scheduled in a year from now. Suddenly the plumbing between your legs doesn’t sound so bad, right? Meanwhile, try not to sweat the deep voice, scarring acne, poor athleticism, and … offensive body odors…



A strong female – the 21-year-old version of you