Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Awen Briem

Download the full-sized image of Interview with Awen Briem

Awen Briem identifies as transgender and as male if he’s not out to them. He was assigned female at birth and grew up in Syracuse, New York. His family then moved to Des Moines, Iowa. He experienced a lot of bullying because he didn’t fit in and so wasn’t included. He did make a few friends though where he felt safe. He stuck with them until high school until he met some queer kids through a weekly queer group in school. All of them have since passed due to HIV, suicide, or hate crimes. He has two older brothers who stayed in New York after Briem moved to Iowa with his parents. His parents were tender and nurturing and also very progressive and social justice oriented. When his body started going through puberty, he felt desperate, like nothing made sense. He felt out of control, depressed, resentful, and angry. Before puberty it was easier to be a tomboy, but after puberty the gender policing intensified. Not knowing what transgender was and not having the language to articulate his identity, he was unhappy and confused. He began to accept things 8-10 years ago when he changed his name, before he was able to acknowledge to himself that he was transgender. It took him many years to have the courage to connect with a therapist and then a physician who could get him on hormones. He came out at 16 as a lesbian, then as a dyke, then for most of his life as gay or queer. None of those identities felt right, however. He dated women since he was 16. He likes facial hair, he runs a lot, he likes to work out so he’s more comfortable with a muscular, athletic build. He’s always dressed in a way that is perceived more masculine, but he doesn’t really claim being a man or male necessarily. He’s been a tattoo artist for 22 years. When he came out to his parents, they ignored it, but both of his brothers were immediately supportive. He started testosterone three years ago at the time of the interview and had top surgery and a hysterectomy. He struggled with insurance covering his trans related care but his physicians helped him work through it. He is now married to a supportive partner and has a son.

Item Information:

Identifier
t435gd15m
Collection
Audio and Video Clips and Transcripts
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
Briem, Awen
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Dec. 28, 2015
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
OutFront Minnesota
Places
Minnesota > Hennepin County > City of Minneapolis > Minneapolis
Michigan
New York > Onondaga County > City of Syracuse > Syracuse
Topic(s)
Acceptance
Appearance
Assigned gender
Bullying
Change of name
Clothing
Coming out
Communities
Employment discrimination
Femininity
Gender diversity
Gender dysphoria
Gender identity
Harassment
Health care
HIV/AIDS
Homophobia
Hormones
Language
Masculinity
Partners (LGBTQ)
Politics
Religions
Schools
Sexuality
Social media
Suicide
Surgery
Therapies
Transgender people
Transphobia
Youth
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
Contact host institution for more information
For more information on copyright, please read our policies