People often say college helped them transform into the person they became. However, very few went through the transition Finn Wengerd is experiencing. Wengerd is a sophomore computer science major here at EMU. As of this year, his gender identity has changed from feminine to masculine.
Wengerd is taking steps to facilitate his transition with the university. He’s working to get his name, as well as his gender, changed within the system and plans to move to male housing next year. Although he is now male-presenting, he wants people to know he’s still the same person. “The only things that are changing are my pronouns and physical appearance,” he said. “If you take away your physical appearance, you are left with your mind and how you react to things and I think that is who you are.”
Recognizing his gender was not easy. Wengerd grew up in a small town where anything other than assimilation negatively impacted not only him but his family. Even acknowledging his non-cis-gendered identity was unfathomable until recently. Despite this, Wengerd questioned himself throughout high school.
“I kept asking questions like ‘what would happen if this?’ … And it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I started to wonder ‘what is this other world that I just don’t have vocabulary for?’” He began to wonder if he was nonbinary or genderfluid but eventually came to the conclusion that he is a man.
There is not much education or access to information about trans and nonbinary genders. Sometimes getting help can block people from realizing their truth because of the preconceived notions and assumptions society still harbors. Wengerd recounts one instance when he opened up to his therapist about his gender. “She told me ‘you’re not trans, I would know’… I was silent the entire car ride home.” Even so, that instance could not stop him from realizing the truth. “I thought she had authority on the situation, but she doesn’t. My gender is my own.”
While his transition is, of course, important to who he is, to truly know Finn Wengerd, one must recognize that the biggest part of him is a nerd. In addition to majoring in computer science, Finn is the co-president of EMU’s Safe Space, enjoys playing video games, and is a huge Neil deGrasse Tyson fan. He obsesses over his dog, Pip, and the anime “Yuri on Ice.” One cannot sing anything from the 1998 musical “Prince of Egypt” without Wengerd breaking into song and dance. His only request is you call him “Finn,” “he,” or “him.”