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“The Gender Question”: A Reflection

By Clay Horton

My hands are shaking as usual as I grip onto the cold bathroom sink; water drips down my face, mixing with tears as I whisper to myself. I suffocate on the cotton candy scented soap that I’ve covered myself in. Clouds of doubt and self-hate swirl around me as I try to convince myself that I fit into a binary box.

I am Clara. My name is Clara and I am female. I am female. I am female. I am female.

For most of my life I was more of a tomboy, but still a woman. I remember being ridiculed for liking the wrong color or playing the wrong sport or having short hair. It was easy to get pushed into a box, thrust into a more feminine being. Holidays were worse: forcing myself into dresses, piling on the makeup, doing anything I could do to please my family.

Hello, My name is Clay Horton. I use He/They pronouns and I’m a Public Ally.

The relief hearing that sentence spilled out of my mouth. I can be whoever I want. They want me here as I am. 


The acceptance of myself sparked the acceptance of many different qualities of myself; I am not perfect and I never will be, but I will always be myself. Since then, I went to college, worked on a social media page for both a nonprofit and my university, and was interviewed for NPR and the Today Show.

The smell of Old Spice swirls around the room as I pull my comb through my bright blue hair. I smile as I slide into my chest binder before throwing on my favorite skirt. I exhale, relieved, as I look into the mirror and finally see who I am on the inside.

Clay Horton is an alum (Connecticut ’20).

This piece is part of Public Allies’ campaign to highlight voices of LGBTQ+ members, alumni, staff, and partners throughout Pride Month.