Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Jae Bates

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Jae Bates identifies as a queer trans man or trans male and was assigned female at birth. He has one older brother who is adopted. He was born in South Korea in 1996 and grew up around Hopkins, Minnesota. His birth mother at the time was unwed and escaping a bad marriage. She then met Bates’ father, but their relationship didn’t last since she didn’t trust him. She tried raising Bates but couldn’t make it work as a single mother, so he was put up for adoption. Ever since he was 4 he wanted short hair, would participate in masculine activities, and knew himself to be a boy. As a child in second or third grade he played on the local basketball team where he realized to his disappointment that he wasn’t a boy as he thought he was when the coach told him he needed a protective cup. Believing he was one of the boys, he told his mom he needed a cup, and she laughed. He realized then he wasn’t going to be able to play on the team. He was bullied in school around his race, sexuality, and gender expression. He was called a chink, gook, and other racial slurs related to his eyes. He began to attempt to blend in and act as white as possible, stopped talking about South Korea, and stopped going to cultural events. He came out as gay in junior high but was depressed since he didn’t know who he was even after coming out. Bates figured out that he was trans when a trans man shared his experiences with him and after researching online about it. He then came out as trans when he started high school. His mom was accepting but worried about Bates encountering trans violence and dealing with other trans related issues that she believed would make his life harder. She was concerned about his safety. His dad, on the other hand, responded by saying Bates wasn’t really trans and fell into denial. He finally accepted that Bates was trans when Bates’ therapist from the Program on Human Sexuality told him he was trans, however. His brother accepted him as well but wished bates didn’t have to medically transition, even asking Bates to just socially transition. Because of insurance issues, he’s been off and on testosterone as he waited for prior authorization approval, which put him in danger since it affected his chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes. He had a bi-lateral mastectomy as a senior in high school and top surgery. He went to the University of Puget Sound in Washington State as an out trans person. He interned at OutFront Minnesota working with schools and youth and has also been involved in other trans advocacy. He is currently in a relationship with his girlfriend.

Item Information:

Oral Histories with People of Color
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Bates, Jae
Jenkins, Andrea
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Jun. 28, 2016
Oral Histories
Korean War
OutFront Minnesota
Vietnam War
South Korea
Minnesota > Hennepin > City of Minnetonka > Hopkins
Assigned gender
Coming out
Gay men
Gender diversity
Gender realignment surgery
Health insurance
Hormone therapy
Partners of transgender people
Transgender people
Verbal abuse
Resource Type
Moving image
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