My best friend in the world is a transgender woman, but her gender isn't the reason we're friends.
We are friends because there is never a dull moment while being around her; she brightens up any room she enters.
Her eccentric, high energy and upbeat attitude toward life is something I truly cherish.
She makes every less than favorable atmosphere into a place I want to be.
We met through our former employer and randomly had an art history class together.
Our art class was painfully dull. We both were failing, but we didn't care.
We would joke the entire time and have tears streaming down our faces from laughing so hard.
For two years, we both worked at large a clothing retailer that caters to women aged 16 to 25.
The job f*cking sucked, we were overworked and we were only paid minimum wage.
However, we made the f*cking best of it.
We rebelled by hiding in the stock room for half of our shifts, eating anything we could find.
Joss, born Joshua, identifies as a female and still is in transition of physically becoming a female.
As her best friend, I notice only a small portion of what she goes through on a daily basis.
On the outside, it may seem Joss has an almost ordinary life, but that is far from the truth.
I will never understand how it feels like to be transgender, but being close with Joss makes me realize how difficult it truly is.
She missed a few classes of art history for one reason or another, and she always came up in class when she wasn't there.
A fellow student asked if anyone was sitting in a vacant seat, and another student responded, "That guy, girl thing usually sits there."
He dehumanized and objectified Joss, as if she wasn't even a real person.
While Joss was absent from class on another occasion, the girl next to me asked if Joss was a guy or girl.
These insensitive comments coming from my classmates astonished me.
It makes me question: Why do people care so much about gender?
Since Joss considers herself a female, she uses the female bathrooms.
One day, we were both in the bathroom after class, and a fellow student accused her of not being a "girl."
These types of remarks follow Joss, haunting her wherever she goes.
While working for this large retailer, the entire staff was encouraged to wear clothing from the store, but not Joss.
Joss was told to wear khaki pants, a polo shirt and boot shoes because she wasn't legally a "female."
She would try to find a way to get around the dress code, but she would get sent to the back room to "talk" with management.
Sometimes, they would even "talk" to her on the sales floor.
I witnessed management reprimand Joss by talking down to her about legalities.
Most of the time, she would get sent home with tears running down her face.
Joss was always the topic circulating around the store.
There were constant stares and whispers of, "Is that a guy or a girl?"
A young girl even asked her directly what gender she was, and the mother of the girl clearly heard this comment and didn't say a word.
Till this day, Joss believes this company "stripped" her of her own identity.
When I first met Joss, she would put so much effort into her appearance and would rather die than wear sweatpants.
She started wearing some version of the guys' dress code for work and then stopped caring all together.
No matter where we go, there are always stares, whispers and the occasional comments from the people who surround us.
Being Joss' best friend only gives me a limited amount of insight into the trials and tribulations of what she truly goes through every day for simply being herself.