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“I Like That About Me.”

Born a boy, Emeri Burks always wanted to change that

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Most children dream of possessing the magical ability to fly, to be invisible, or to talk to animals.

But as a young boy growing up in Jefferson City, Mo., Emeri Burks wished only to be a girl. “I prayed every day for the body that would fix things, that would make everything right,” recalls Burks (CAS’08). “More than anything, I wanted to be anatomically and biologically female.”

It wasn’t until sophomore year of high school that Burks learned of a word that explained the feelings he had wrestled with for years: transsexual. “A transsexual is someone who identifies with the opposite gender of his or her born sex,” Burks says. “For me, it means that in spite of what my body, my doctors, my teachers, and society have told me, I am — and always have been — female.”

Last summer, Burks underwent sexual reassignment surgery, and today she has the body she wished for as a child. In the video above, she describes her transition from a deeply depressed boy to a much happier young woman.

“At last,” she says, “I am whole.”

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu. Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.

23 Comments

23 Comments on “I Like That About Me.”

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 7:02 am

    I’m a trans grad student at BU and just wanted to say to Emeri thanks for having the courage to make this video.

    Everyone makes change in different ways and I think this video is great.

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 8:46 am

    You are awesome, girl! College students every where are wrestling with their identities and it is refreshing to see a young college woman talk about her own challenges as eloquently as you have! Good luck!

  • Becky Brand and Meg Maloney on 03.20.2008 at 10:02 am

    Emeri!

    We love Emeri and think that what she’s doing is amazing! You are a beautiful young woman! Congrats!

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 10:17 am

    bravery

    This is for Emeri: Thank you for that brave, articulate speech. Such dignity is as rare as it is inspirational. Best of luck to you.

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 10:56 am

    Thank you...

    Thank you for having the guts to put yourself on video and tell your story. I can’t imagine how many people your words will help by hearing about your courageous path to true happiness. So thank you for reaching out, and for proving to us that we all really do have the ability to create our own destiny.

  • Francis P. on 03.20.2008 at 11:22 am

    My Poetic Courage

    I’ve known you for about two years and counting. You have always been such a great person, and poetic friend. We will get our “dual-stage time soon.” Until then, keep being yourself, because that was all I even knew you as.

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 11:35 am

    congratulations on having this published Emeri! Made me feel more hopeful about the opinions of the society that we live in and. you are brave!

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 12:44 pm

    great video

    Wow, I can only imagine how much courage that took, good luck Emeri!

  • Anonymous on 03.20.2008 at 1:33 pm

    Emeri, you are Beautiful. Both inside and out.

  • AJ on 03.20.2008 at 1:59 pm

    Beautiful!

    Wow. Thank you. I’m stunned at your eloquence and your courage, which you carry in such an amazing way. All the best to you. Thank you for adding your light to the world.

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 9:19 am

    Nice story – well done!

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 9:55 am

    In all honesty, the claim that you “felt like a girl” makes no sense. What does that mean, exactly? That you liked dolls and tea-parties? That you were interested in fashion? That you didn’t care about sports? Those are just stereotypes and roles defined by society. The truth is, there is no such thing as “feeling like” a girl or boy. A girl’s mind trapped in a boy’s body is a specious notion because in reality, gender has nothing to do with feelings, opinions, attitudes and personality. Those things are individual, not gender-based. You changed your body because you too believed what society told you was true: you too believe in false predeterminations of female and male behavior and personality.

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 12:14 pm

    EMERI

    GOOD LUCK YOU WILL NEED IT!!

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 1:47 pm

    amazing...

    A friend forwarded this link to me… I graduated from BU in 03… I am touched by your courage, honesty, and the peace you share with the world…

  • The Cap'n on 03.21.2008 at 2:23 pm

    I hope that actions speak louder than words. I hope that love is sufficient. I am– always have been, so immensely proud of you.

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 4:18 pm

    To the person who wrote the comment “In all honesty, the claim…” submitted on Fri, 03/21/2008 09:55 am, believe it or not, not everything can be defined by notions/stereotypes that are familiar to you. I’m colorblind, can you explain the feeling of perceiving the color red to me?

  • Anonymous on 03.21.2008 at 4:20 pm

    Response to a comment here

    To the person who wrote the comment “In all honesty, the claim…” submitted on Fri, 03/21/2008 09:55 am, believe it or not, not everything can be defined by notions/stereotypes that are familiar to you. I’m colorblind, can you explain the feeling of perceiving the color red to me?

  • tara-ICPC on 03.21.2008 at 5:57 pm

    I am glad that you have finally found peace.It was evident as soon as i saw you after the surgery.You are a flower that waited to bloom ,but now you are the most vibrant in all of the garden.

  • Jon Piron on 03.21.2008 at 7:41 pm

    Regarding the first comment

    With regards to the person who wrote the following:
    “In all honesty, the claim that you ‘felt like a girl’ makes no sense… You changed your body because you too believed what society told you was true: you too believe in false predeterminations of female and male behavior and personality.”

    What a crappy, judgmental response to such a thoughtful and brave video posting. I seriously wonder if the person who wrote the above comment could speak as well and for as long as Emeri did without saying something that could be similarly picked apart.

    More importantly, I think it is pretty presumptuous–not to mention inappropriate–to psychoanalyze someone so severely simply because of an apparent inconsistency in her claim that she once “felt like a girl.”

    Seriously, did you really find Emeri’s posting so upsetting that you thought it necessary to create such a scathing critique of her character? Why, because of a few potential semantic flaws? Or because of your own insecurities with the topic? I wonder what would happen if we reversed this microscope on you. I wonder if we’d find a quasi-intellectual who gets off on walking all over her peers; a pseudo-psychologist who feels more intelligent, not based on the merits of her own intellectual achievements, but on the nasty and malicious judgments of others. In essence, you try quite hard to feel superior to your peers. But you don’t do so by raising yourself up. You do so relatively, by pushing others down.

    Well, mission accomplished.

    One bit of advice, though, in case you wish to publish similar critiques in the future: true critics are always first and foremost critical of their own criticisms.

  • Anonymous on 03.22.2008 at 10:45 am

    Reply to "In all honesty, the claim..."

    “in reality, gender has nothing to do with feelings, opinions, attitudes and personality. Those things are individual, not gender-based.”

    I mean, if you say so. I thought it was pretty widely acknowledged that gender had something to do with one’s individuality. As you said, there are predetermined conceptions about femininity and masculinity, and there is the physical sex of male and female. However, any understanding of our physically male or female bodies is obviously going to be arrived at from our singular perspective, within the confines of predetermined conceptions. So then gender most certainly does have to do with personality and attitudes.

    I mean, if this is purely “based” in the individual, then tell me what the individual is based in.

  • Anonymous on 03.23.2008 at 10:15 pm

    inspiring

    Emeri- you are truly beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there and talk about your experiences. I can only imagine what you have been through and I wish you the best of luck in the future. Thank you!!

  • Anonymous on 03.26.2008 at 5:20 am

    thank you Emeri!

    Thank you Emeri for having the courage to share your story.

  • A Mom on 03.26.2008 at 6:54 pm

    Wishing you contentment

    As a parent, I can only imagine how much courage it took to talk with your parents about your feelings. We do want our children to conform to the “norm” and make us proud, but we also, desperately, want our children to be happy. I truly believe that we should do the best with what God gave us, but I also believe that God gave people the ability to fix what sometimes goes haywire. It’s like putting a glove sculpted for the left hand, on the right hand. It fits-the fingers and thumb are in the right places-but it doesn’t fit comfortably and is not perfectly functional. It just doesn’t feel right. So..you can either live in frustration, or fix it. Emeri, wishing you many years of happiness, peace, love, good health, and contentment.

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